The Fiat 124 Spider: Italy's Lightweight

The Mazda MX-5 (or Miata as it's commonly known) is a car that's been loved worldwide for over 20 years now. Its simple strategy of a front-engine, rear-drive layout with just enough power to keep things interesting has repeatedly won over critics due to its pure simplicity. Add a bit of stylish design and a removable soft-top into the mix and you've got the best-selling roadster of all time.

At this point, you may be wondering why, in an article about a new Fiat, I'm going into detail about a seemingly unrelated Japanese sports car. Well, here's the reason: despite the fresh styling and engine from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the 124 Spider is, essentially, a Miata. For a while, rumors circled about a collaboration between Mazda and Alfa Romeo. That idea, as of now, was scrapped as company officials decided the car would fit in more with the identity of the Fiat brand.

Although it's got the looks of a Fiat, it does have the heart of an Alfa. Rated at 140 horsepower, it's not the most exciting heart it could've received, but turbocharging allows it to produce 178 lb ft of torque, surpassing both current MX-5 engine outputs. This power is fed to the rear wheels through the Miata's familiar six-speed manual gearbox. No performance stats have yet been released, but if you're dying to get a rough estimate of how quick the 124 will be, I've got a suggestion for you. Head over to Google, type "2016 Mazda MX-5 performance stats" into the search bar, and click the blue search button below. Problem solved.

Now for the Spider's styling. The 124 was destined to bear more than a passing resemblance to the MX-5 on which it's based, but Fiat's design team went to great efforts to make it stand out. While the MX-5 was designed with a more minimalist approach, the 124's designers opted for (in typical Italian fashion) a much more dramatic appearance. It incorporates Fiat's current design language nicely into a new, more curvaceous form. I personally like it, especially with those bulges in the hood.

The 124 Spider is shaping up to be a real hit for Fiat. Combining the MX-5's fun-focused character and light weight with a torquier motor and more exciting styling is a fantastic idea. The 124 will hit the roads next year. Hopefully, by then we'll have news of a faster, Abarth-tuned version. For updates on that, as well as everything else from the LA Auto Show, make sure to stay tuned to Oh So Lofty.