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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!

Glad to see these cars have an active website, I've graduated from University this year in the UK and managed to land myself a job straight off the bat (imagine that, these days). So I am looking for an upgrade.
I have driven an 04 MG TF for the past 4/5 years and enjoyed it so much, however, commuting 40 miles each day to work was taking its toll and with how unreliable the car has been for me (around £4000 in repairs) it's putting me on edge each time I get inside of it (not fun). And with a new job, you'd imagine I want something that I know will start each morning. I've been looking for similar, modern cars for a while now and my heart and eye has always been with the 124 having sat in one on its release year at Goodwood FOS. I'll note that I'm looking at the Fiat models as the Abarth is slightly out of my price range.

  • I have sat in one since, and as a 6ft 3' stack of bones, I'll have to be honest, it's tight. I'm used to minimal space with the MG but could do with a bit more space between my legs and the dashboard. Are there any options to eliviate this? I recall seeing something about a seat lowering bracket on here a few months back.
  • Secondly with manuals, what is standstill traffic like in one of these? this seems to be a common occurrence in my commutes. More specifically how heavy is the clutch? and how is 1st gear at low speeds?
  • Lastly, standard, Lusso and Lusso+, can somebody be kind enough to the list the differences between these so I can make a better decision.
It should be noted I would be buying outright second hand with under 20k miles and plan to keep the car for a long time (5+ years), and my budget is £15000 ~.


Many thanks!
 

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As an Abarth owner, I can't speak to any of your questions except the second one. The clutch is actually really light in these vehicles, so I find stop and go traffic not that much of an issue. Annoying, but you won't feel like your left leg is cramping up from working the clutch.

Bon chance avec votre acquisition. :)
 

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Welcome to the forum, there are a few of us UK based 124 Spider owners on here. To answer your questions:

1. I am only 5'7" and if have the seat back upright, I put the seat forward a bit so there is a gap behind the rear of the seat, maybe 3" so I can see that 6'3" might be tight, but it would be worth playing with different positions of the seat base and seat rear. It sounds like the car would be your everyday car, so make sure you'll be comfy with the roof up as well as down. Don't forget there is also the large hump in the driver's footwell that will sit under your left knee I found this quite obtrusive before but don't even notice it now.
2. Like any new car, the clutch is light and I haven't found it to be a chore in traffic. Compared to other heavier and/or FWD cars thst I drive the Spider is light and nimble and eager to move away in first. Not sure what your question is though?
3.The base model is the Classica, noticeable by the body-coloured windscreen frame and 15" wheels and stainless steel exhaust pipes. It also has less interior/dashboard upholstery, A/C but not climate control, fabric non-heated seats, no rear parking sensors/camera nor keyless entry and only halogen headlights and no fog lights. Also as standard it has the small 3" text display only screen and apparently only 1 USB port, and no navigation system. Many Classicas have been upgraded to the 7" infotainment system.
The Lusso has 16" wheels, silver screen surround and chrome exhaust pipes. It has more interior/dashboard upholstery, climate control, heated leather seats, rear parking sensors/camera, keyless entry and fog lights, plus silver roll bar covers. It also has keyless entry and 7" infotainment system with navigation.
The Lusso Plus adds the LED adaptive headlights and washers, plus rain/dusk sensors, and the 9 speaker BOSE audio system.

In my opinion the 7" infotainment, larger wheels and reverse camera on the Lusso are worth having, and the LED lights on the Plus are worth having, but the BOSE system maybe not.
 

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Hi

I've pretty much trodden your exact same path before, sharing your pleasure and pain with MGs (MGB and more recently the TF). The TF was great fun and never let me down, but it just couldn't cope with higher mileages on our appalling pot holed roads in the UK, especially in England. Like you I also had the Fiat 124 in my sights way before I bought mine, so know exactly how you must be feeling.

However, I am just under 6 foot and I agree that your extra height cannot simply be disregarded. It certainly feels more confined than the TF even for me. But at least you've sat in the 124 and know you can actually exist in there, which is a good start! If you do some searching on this site I recall there are posts, from the US I think, that explain what can be done about the seats. Maybe someone can give you more info on that. Also, the seat backs are a lot narrower than in the MG, so your build will also be a consideration in terms of comfort, although a cushion might help. Regardless of all this though, I think you will always struggle to get in and out in an elegant manner especially with the roof up, but as you managed with the MG I suspect you'll be willing to accept that!

The clutch is absolutely fine. As for progress in slow traffic, my personal experience is that crawling along in 1st is ok but constantly shifting between 1st and 2nd is not the easiest and most pleasurable experience. However, I stress that this is with minimal experience on my part and given the clutch is just fine I am sure you would soon master the art of smooth progress.

As for spec, if you do a web search you can still bring up a Fiat price list from September 2018 which includes the 124, with a full spec listing for each of the 3 versions. If you're really interested you could go on Ebay and get the original brochures which will give you a bit more detail. The good thing is it's all fairly straightforward, as there were basically no extra cost options to choose from. You also only had 8 colours (including 2 whites) and 2 interior trim colours (Black & Tobacco). So it's very easy to narrow things down to what you want. The other good news is that with your budget and willingness to buy at up to 20k miles, you should be able to get any spec you want except the final S Design, which was basically a white Lusso Plus with black detailing. You could even get one of the launch Anniversary cars, which were basically a red Lusso Plus, but just be aware they don't have the reverse camera if you want that (or auto locking feature I think).

As you are no doubt well aware, the 124 is pretty scarce in the UK because Fiat pulled the import plug after little more than 2 years of modest sales. This is great in terms of giving you a good looking car with a certain level of exclusivity, especially a fun, affordable one that you can use every day. I am obviously very biased but I just don't know if there is anything else out there to compare with it. On the downside, do not underestimate the impact this scarcity could have on getting what you want. According to DVLA data, there were only 2,800 Fiat's in the UK last time I looked and only a fraction of these will ever be for sale at any one time. So if you set your sights on a particular version with a specific paint and trim colour, you may struggle to find it straightaway, other than in white perhaps. A few combinations are especially rare and may not appear for sale for several months - and they could be at the other side of the country when they do!

In terms of reliability, it sounds like some owners are racking up huge miles especially in North America without any problems, often in some very extreme temperatures. You also have the build quality of Mazda and many of their components, allied to a tried and tested Fiat engine. Obviously our poor roads will never help when it comes to cars like this, but I suspect the 124 will still fare a lot better than the MG in that respect, plus by now you will be familiar with the worst pot holes to avoid on your daily commute.

I would just end by saying that, as long as you can physically fit in and drive one of these, I'd very much encourage you to go for it. Unlike many of us here, you are young and hopefully flexible enough to deal with the effects of fitting into a car that, as I think you accept, probably wasn't designed for someone of your height! Given you are fortunate enough to be have the opportunity, surely it is better to take the plunge and see how it goes, rather than getting something 'second best' and wondering what might have been? What's the worse that can happen - if you find you really can't live with it I doubt you will lose much, if any, money on it in the short term if you buy the right car.

Good luck whatever you decide to do and I'm sure you'll find many people on here willing to give you all the advice you need now and in the future.
 

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I agree with all the above. I'm about 6'1" and fit fine - any issues getting in and out are more due to my advanced years than anything else. I don't do a regular commute, but when I am in traffic I don't find the clutch to be a problem at all - though I do find a bit of a gap between first and second gears.

As for models, I have an S-Design, which is a Lusso Plus with gunmetal mirror and headrest covers, a tricolore badge on the boot, Abarth wheels and a red stripe along the bottom of the doors; mine's a white car, I don't know whether the S-Design was available in other colours and if so what happens to that stripe. I bought it 3 months ago as a 11-month old ex-demo car with 8k miles for just a little more than your budget - so I think you stand a very good chance of getting what you want.

Finally, I'd say that even if you find you cannot fit in the car comfortably then I think their values will hold up well as they've not been imported into the UK since the beginning of the year.

Go for it !

P.S. if you say where you are in the country and there's a local owner on here they might well let you spend time with their car.
 

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Welcome,

Echo and +1 the previous.

I would try and stretch to an Abarth, they may have a higher residual value and demand down the track, just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi

I've pretty much trodden your exact same path before, sharing your pleasure and pain with MGs (MGB and more recently the TF). The TF was great fun and never let me down, but it just couldn't cope with higher mileages on our appalling pot holed roads in the UK, especially in England. Like you I also had the Fiat 124 in my sights way before I bought mine, so know exactly how you must be feeling.
What a beautifully, tailor-written response. Cannot thank you enough for this, it spoke to me incredibly well!

Great to hear from a someone who made the same transition, my TF has a very heavy clutch, legs hit the steering wheel very often, but after 5 years I could say (if it was reliable) I would comfortably drive it for a couple more. I have never owned a spacious car so I guess ignorance is bliss for me. I am willing to drop a lot in terms of comfort as long as it doesn't put me at risk obviously! Great to hear that about the clutch, it really cannot be much worse than stop-start hill traffic in a heavy clutch MG!

However, I am just under 6 foot and I agree that your extra height cannot simply be disregarded. It certainly feels more confined than the TF even for me. But at least you've sat in the 124 and know you can actually exist in there, which is a good start! If you do some searching on this site I recall there are posts, from the US I think, that explain what can be done about the seats. Maybe someone can give you more info on that. Also, the seat backs are a lot narrower than in the MG, so your build will also be a consideration in terms of comfort, although a cushion might help. Regardless of all this though, I think you will always struggle to get in and out in an elegant manner especially with the roof up, but as you managed with the MG I suspect you'll be willing to accept that!

The clutch is absolutely fine. As for progress in slow traffic, my personal experience is that crawling along in 1st is ok but constantly shifting between 1st and 2nd is not the easiest and most pleasurable experience. However, I stress that this is with minimal experience on my part and given the clutch is just fine I am sure you would soon master the art of smooth progress.
My next step will be to book a test drive and get the seating position to the best it possibly can be. I sat in one recently for about 20 minutes and felt fine, didn't notice any headroom issues surprisingly. It was just the gap between my knees and the dashboard. The centre console is a perfect height for me by the way for an armrest! I have mastered the art of shifting my weight in and out of a small 2 seater, even in the tightest of spaces. So much so that whenever I get into an average-sized car it feels like I'm walking onto a bus!

As for spec, if you do a web search you can still bring up a Fiat price list from September 2018 which includes the 124, with a full spec listing for each of the 3 versions. If you're really interested you could go on Ebay and get the original brochures which will give you a bit more detail. The good thing is it's all fairly straightforward, as there were basically no extra cost options to choose from. You also only had 8 colours (including 2 whites) and 2 interior trim colours (Black & Tobacco). So it's very easy to narrow things down to what you want. The other good news is that with your budget and willingness to buy at up to 20k miles, you should be able to get any spec you want except the final S Design, which was basically a white Lusso Plus with black detailing. You could even get one of the launch Anniversary cars, which were basically a red Lusso Plus, but just be aware they don't have the reverse camera if you want that (or auto locking feature I think).
Very informative and great to know my budget can go some distance!

As you are no doubt well aware, the 124 is pretty scarce in the UK because Fiat pulled the import plug after little more than 2 years of modest sales. This is great in terms of giving you a good looking car with a certain level of exclusivity, especially a fun, affordable one that you can use every day. I am obviously very biased but I just don't know if there is anything else out there to compare with it. On the downside, do not underestimate the impact this scarcity could have on getting what you want. According to DVLA data, there were only 2,800 Fiat's in the UK last time I looked and only a fraction of these will ever be for sale at any one time. So if you set your sights on a particular version with a specific paint and trim colour, you may struggle to find it straightaway, other than in white perhaps. A few combinations are especially rare and may not appear for sale for several months - and they could be at the other side of the country when they do!
This is exactly what I'm looking for, I love the idea of exclusive cars with friendly communities to help out at any given time. In terms of comparison, I looked at the MX5 and the TT however, dare I say in 2019, the 124 is a lot...manlier? I'm fairly versatile with the 124 I'm after and as long as the MG doesn't blow a head gasket before the new year I have plenty of time!

In terms of reliability, it sounds like some owners are racking up huge miles especially in North America without any problems, often in some very extreme temperatures. You also have the build quality of Mazda and many of their components, allied to a tried and tested Fiat engine. Obviously our poor roads will never help when it comes to cars like this, but I suspect the 124 will still fare a lot better than the MG in that respect, plus by now you will be familiar with the worst pot holes to avoid on your daily commute.
Luckily my commute is about 90% motorway, it's just those gruelling, stop-start, neutral to 1st every 5 seconds moments. I absolutely know the potholes like the back of my hand, as well as the more-resent flood-prone areas!

I would just end by saying that, as long as you can physically fit in and drive one of these, I'd very much encourage you to go for it. Unlike many of us here, you are young and hopefully flexible enough to deal with the effects of fitting into a car that, as I think you accept, probably wasn't designed for someone of your height! Given you are fortunate enough to be have the opportunity, surely it is better to take the plunge and see how it goes, rather than getting something 'second best' and wondering what might have been? What's the worse that can happen - if you find you really can't live with it I doubt you will lose much, if any, money on it in the short term if you buy the right car.

Good luck whatever you decide to do and I'm sure you'll find many people on here willing to give you all the advice you need now and in the future.
Absolutely, got to make use of my youth while it's still here! i'm sure my older self will disagree though and i'll pay for it later, live for the moment right? ?
Absolutely, this is the only car I have had my eyes on for a good while now, I considered a Mini Roadster too but it's just not a 124. Exactly, the worst scenario is I miraculously can't live with this beautiful car and have to sell it, which should be a lot easier knowing I'm not tied to any HP or PCP contracts.

Cannot thank you enough for reaching out to me on this, you answered everything I asked for (and more).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Welcome,

Echo and +1 the previous.

I would try and stretch to an Abarth, they may have a higher residual value and demand down the track, just a thought.
If I test drove an Abarth or hell, just sat in one, I'd probably make some horrendous financial decisions ?.
It's not just the high vehicle price, it's the insurance too as well as higher service costs (I believe?) and probably more on petrol because I wouldn't get out of the darn thing!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I agree with all the above. I'm about 6'1" and fit fine - any issues getting in and out are more due to my advanced years than anything else. I don't do a regular commute, but when I am in traffic I don't find the clutch to be a problem at all - though I do find a bit of a gap between first and second gears.
Hi Barney, great to hear!

Luckily I'm pretty scrawny, I could probably slide under the actual car if I tried! Good to get a similar response about the clutch.

As for models, I have an S-Design, which is a Lusso Plus with gunmetal mirror and headrest covers, a tricolore badge on the boot, Abarth wheels and a red stripe along the bottom of the doors; mine's a white car, I don't know whether the S-Design was available in other colours and if so what happens to that stripe. I bought it 3 months ago as a 11-month old ex-demo car with 8k miles for just a little more than your budget - so I think you stand a very good chance of getting what you want.
Sounds awesome, would love to see some pictures of this. I do really like the Abarth wheels, I assume these can be fitted to a fiat with no problems?

Finally, I'd say that even if you find you cannot fit in the car comfortably then I think their values will hold up well as they've not been imported into the UK since the beginning of the year.

Go for it !

P.S. if you say where you are in the country and there's a local owner on here they might well let you spend time with their car.
Brilliant, I'm in England, Southampton. Although, I don't know if I'd want the responsibility of driving somebody else's pride and joy! :unsure:

Cheers Barney
 

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Congratulations on the new job and welcome to the Spider forums.

I’m 6’0” / 185 lbs and it fit just about perfectly in my Abarth. I wouldn’t want to be over 6’1” in it. But ultimately it will matter if you have a long torso or long limbs.

I find shifting gears is mostly a personal thing. I drove manual transmission Jeep Wranglers in Los Angeles for 10 years and it never bothered me; it was second nature. Meanwhile other Jeepers would go on and on about how terrible JK’s shifter linkage was, etc. Shifting gears in a Spider is more enjoyable than in a Jeep, but the act of shifting doesn’t bother me either way.

Hope that helps.

Good luck.
 

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Sounds awesome, would love to see some pictures of this. I do really like the Abarth wheels, I assume these can be fitted to a fiat with no problems?

Brilliant, I'm in England, Southampton. Although, I don't know if I'd want the responsibility of driving somebody else's pride and joy! :unsure:
Your mention of doing a lot of mway driving reminded me that I do find the car very noisy at 70 (ish) on motorways, particularly with the hood up. I'm in Somerset, a bit far away I guess.
Here you go (sorry about the dirt) ...
73240
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Welcome to the forum, there are a few of us UK based 124 Spider owners on here. To answer your questions:

1. I am only 5'7" and if have the seat back upright, I put the seat forward a bit so there is a gap behind the rear of the seat, maybe 3" so I can see that 6'3" might be tight, but it would be worth playing with different positions of the seat base and seat rear. It sounds like the car would be your everyday car, so make sure you'll be comfy with the roof up as well as down. Don't forget there is also the large hump in the driver's footwell that will sit under your left knee I found this quite obtrusive before but don't even notice it now.
Hi Azzura, cheers for the swift response on this.

I recently sat in one at my local garage with the roof down and didn't notice any issues with head height. I also sat in an MX5 and didn't notice at all, it's more about the distance between my knees and the dashboard. Saying that, there's similar issues but with the steering wheel in my MG and i've lived with that for 5 years.

2. Like any new car, the clutch is light and I haven't found it to be a chore in traffic. Compared to other heavier and/or FWD cars thst I drive the Spider is light and nimble and eager to move away in first. Not sure what your question is though?
I guess the question was "what is it like to drive in those gruelling stop-start situations", but you pretty much answered that one.

3.The base model is the Classica, noticeable by the body-coloured windscreen frame and 15" wheels and stainless steel exhaust pipes. It also has less interior/dashboard upholstery, A/C but not climate control, fabric non-heated seats, no rear parking sensors/camera nor keyless entry and only halogen headlights and no fog lights. Also as standard it has the small 3" text display only screen and apparently only 1 USB port, and no navigation system. Many Classicas have been upgraded to the 7" infotainment system.
The Lusso has 16" wheels, silver screen surround and chrome exhaust pipes. It has more interior/dashboard upholstery, climate control, heated leather seats, rear parking sensors/camera, keyless entry and fog lights, plus silver roll bar covers. It also has keyless entry and 7" infotainment system with navigation.
The Lusso Plus adds the LED adaptive headlights and washers, plus rain/dusk sensors, and the 9 speaker BOSE audio system.
Can't thank you enough for this, been trying to separate them for a while. bookmarked for reference. With winter coming, them heated seats sound incredible.

In my opinion the 7" infotainment, larger wheels and reverse camera on the Lusso are worth having, and the LED lights on the Plus are worth having, but the BOSE system maybe not.
Great insight, thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Your mention of doing a lot of mway driving reminded me that I do find the car very noisy at 70 (ish) on motorways, particularly iwth the hood up. I'm in Somerset, a bit far away I guess.
Here you go (sorry about the dirt) ...
View attachment 73240
Stunning! really digging those wheels, I'd be incredibly proud of that and I'm sure you are!

I doubt it is much louder than the MG, with it being mid-engine too it makes quite the racket 60mph+. I think I'm prepared for anything at this point ?
 

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As an Abarth owner, I can't speak to any of your questions except the second one. The clutch is actually really light in these vehicles, so I find stop and go traffic not that much of an issue. Annoying, but you won't feel like your left leg is cramping up from working the clutch.

Bon chance avec votre acquisition. :)
Great to know! absolutely, will always be annoying no matter what car you're in.
 

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Congratulations on the new job and welcome to the Spider forums.

I’m 6’0” / 185 lbs and it fit just about perfectly in my Abarth. I wouldn’t want to be over 6’1” in it. But ultimately it will matter if you have a long torso or long limbs.

I find shifting gears is mostly a personal thing. I drove manual transmission Jeep Wranglers in Los Angeles for 10 years and it never bothered me; it was second nature. Meanwhile other Jeepers would go on and on about how terrible JK’s shifter linkage was, etc. Shifting gears in a Spider is more enjoyable than in a Jeep, but the act of shifting doesn’t bother me either way.

Hope that helps.

Good luck.

Thank you for the warm welcome Aldo,

Great insight, would you say this might be because you've driven spacious cars before the Abarth? Perhaps it's better than I haven't experienced that, comfort and spacious is something I have never experienced owning cars.

Absolutely, thank you for the insight, really appreciate it!
 

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If you like top down driving then heated seats are a must. Although Sydney winter weather is nowhere near as bad as UK winter weather (I'm English) I've always driven top down in cold weather. The combination of windows up, heated seats and fan heating creates a pool of warm air that keeps you ok but maybe looks slightly crazy to other divers.

The decision regarding Abarth or not is more related to heart over head I suspect. Abarth is the only model we get in Australia so no other choice was available for me. Others may attest to getting Abarth spec and sport mode response with mods that may cost less than the premium that the Abarth demands but with the continuance of this car being somewhat problematic I'm speculating that the Abarth model will hold its value better against the other versions.
 

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An interesting reference to sport mode - I hadn't considered that Kipper might be considering an auto. I suspect they are far less popular in the UK than elsewhere, if that's what he's after.

Edited to add : obviously he isn't, as he's concerned about the clutch.
 

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An interesting reference to sport mode - I hadn't considered that Kipper might be considering an auto. I suspect they are far less popular in the UK than elsewhere, if that's what he's after.
In my urban driving conditions the throttle response in normal mode is so slow at low rpm, especially in first gear, that I consider it downright dangerous. Perhaps this is the "turbo lag" that people refer to but either way it becomes dangerous when forced to undergo quick traffic movements.

Pop sport mode on and it's an instantaneous improvement, as it should be normally IMO. I never drive any other way. Not having the experience of the Classica/Lusso versions I can't compare or know if it's the same or not.

I have seen most of the reviews on Youtube and not heard one mention of this, some reviewers even saying sport mode does barely anything! Be sure to drive both to see if the low speed response suits your driving style.
 

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You just need to rev up the engine a little higher by pressing the throttle deeper before shifting into 1st gear, that’s all.
 

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You just need to rev up the engine a little higher by pressing the throttle deeper before shifting into 1st gear, that’s all.
Thanks Aldo but maybe that's not possible when forced to take quick action. There are many instancies when it's impossible to prepare like this.

I like to have a consistent throttle response regardless of driving modes. I don't have a problem with a relaxed power delivery or ride comfort as some systems provide but when I press the throttle I expect something to happen there and then.

When interfacing with machinery I regard positive feedback and consistent response of controls is essential for safe operation. I'm glad to have sport mode as it fits with what I expect from this car and my driving style.

This is the first turbo engine I've had so after a lifetime of NA and FI engines perhaps it's me that needs to adjust but when I push that throttle I want it to react immediately not half a second later so sport mode is a must for me.
 
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