2017 Fiat 124 Spider: Neoteric Classic Beauty | Design Commentary
The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider traces back to the original 1966 Pininfarina-designed Fiat 124, bringing back the iconic styling and energy that is still appreciated even after 50 years.
The designers at Fiat Style Centre at Turin, Italy, must have had a really tough time. The task was to design a convertible that brings back the classic styling and elegance of 1966 Fiat 124 Sport Spider, thereby paying homage to it, but also in a whole new perspective that goes well with the present-day sensibilities. But they were given a donor car platform – a fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 – therefore, their scope was pretty much restricted only to exterior panel design and detailing. Yet, the outcome was jaw-dropping.
Fiat’s iconic cars like the new 500 are usually seen with en number of iterations, sharing family styling to maintain a brand or even sub-brand cohesion in the company’s stable. But that can’t be the case with the 124 Spider, as the new car’s kin is not contemporaneous, but historic. Therefore, the classic Fiat 124 isn’t a mere inspiration to the 2017 model, but the original flair and beauty has to be retained as well.
Take for instance the old 124 spider’s legendary styling. Its silhouette and contours were kept horizontal, with front and rear undercuts. The flowing character line running from front to back, high and aggressive nose, and unique rear shape. That must have been really trendy at that time. “The 124 that debuted at the 1966 Turin Auto Show was one of the most beautiful cars in history”, says Virgilio Fernandez, chief designer at the Style Centre. It represented the optimism, fun and happiness of Italian lifestyle that was caught buyers’ imagination for over 3 decades globally, he adds.
The incorporation of such classic cues and styling elements in the 2017 car is very obvious. The longer hood, low-slung posture, snug decklid and nicely proportioned cabin portion, and the slender silhouette is impressive. A horizontal character line rises from the face, stretches back and joins with the tail lamp section. The upper hexagonal grille, the little humps on the bonnet, and the swallow-tail rear wing section – together brings unmistakable reference to the original 124 Spider.
Modern sensibilities like the LED lighting, built-in rear spoiler, and dual exhaust pipes add fresh flair to the car’s styling. The LED DRLs, in particular, provides peculiar expression to the car’s nostalgic styling. On the inside too, the tech-fancy touches like the sporty steering wheel, voguish instrumentation, heads-up infotainment display, and comfy bucket seats, which are also starkly eye-grabbing in an open-top convertible, complements the overall presence of the car. Although the interior design and layout is derived from the donor car Mazda MX-5, Fiat’s unique touches are still very evident.
The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider includes two other iterations as well – Lusso (‘luxury’) trim and Abarth variant. Evidently, the fun play of the brand in distinguishing the multiple models with too much detailing is seen here as well. The Lusso variant features 17-inch alloys, silver-painted A-pillar header and roll-bar cover. But the 124 Spider Abarth model is the most exciting, as it tries to personify modern-day sport performance with the classic styling. That shows the best part of the old car’s classic styling – it suits the elegance of a lifestyle convertible as well as the aggressiveness of a open-top sportscar. In fact, original Fiat 124 did have sport variants that brought the company its first European Rally Championship victories in 1970s.
The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is definitely a unique kind of Fiat, bring the best out of classic beauty in a very modern understanding. Compare the car with the Mazda MX-5’s styling, the individualism of the 124 becomes evident. Apart from the roadster wheelbase and retractable roof mechanism, both cars are poles apart. But compare it with the original Fiat 124, then the expression and emphasis gets tallied.