First introduced to the American market in the mid-1960s, the Fiat 124 Spider was an affordable roadster that was fun to drive. It found its way into the hearts of more than 170,000 American car buyers, and nearly 8,000 of them are still registered.

Fiat is bringing the little sports car back to the American market this year, aiming it squarely at drivers who are young, and young at heart. It’s a pure little Italian two-seater that is fantastically fun to drive.

Today, as Fiat pays homage to the original 124 Spider, the 2017 model has a relatively affordable starting price of $24,995. In fact, all models of the Fiat 124 Spider start below $30-grand.

The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider continues Fiat’s effort to increase its presence in the U.S. after the company returned to U.S. shores six years ago with the Fiat 500.

The 124 Spider will be offered in three trims: Classica, Lusso and the higher performance Abarth. Our test car for the week was the Classica. I had a ball tooling around town in the little roadster, and even got a chance to roll it up into the Felicianas with the top down. Open air driving in late January is a rarity and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It takes only a few seconds to drop the top. Just pull a latch above the rearview mirror and fold it back towards the trunk until it latches. To replace the top, push a button and pull it back to the windshield. If your shoulders are limber, you can put the top down while seated in the driver’s seat.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “This car looks like a Mazda MX-5 Miata,” you’re partly right. The two cars share underpinnings, but the new Fiat 124 Spider is distinctly Italian with an aggressive, sporty style that takes its cues from the original model.

The 124 Spider is powered by a turbocharged MultiAir 1.4-liter engine that delivers up to 164 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Buyers will have a choice between a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.

The new Spider has a refined ride and responsive throttle, especially with the standard 6-speed transmission. Shift throws are short and the clutch won’t wear out your left leg. During last year’s west coast launch of the 124 Spider we were also able to drive a model with the automatic transmission and paddle shifters, and it performed smoothly as well.

Inside the cabin of the performance-oriented Abarth, we found details like red contrast stitching, a wrapped instrument cluster hood, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a matte black instrument panel bezel and aluminum-accented sport pedals. Leather-lined microfiber seats are standard while leather seats in a combination of black and red are available.

Available connectivity in the 124 Spider is via Fiat Connect 7.0, which includes an AM/FM radio, HD radio, an MP3 player, six speakers, two USB ports, an auxiliary input and Bluetooth hands-free calling. The 7-inch touchscreen, which displays the vehicle’s rearview camera, was crystal clear. Fiat Connect 7.0 has optional SiriusXM Radio and navigation, as well as optional Bose sound with nine speakers.

The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider has a range of standard and available safety equipment and systems including a full complement of air bags, anti-lock brakes, automatic headlights, blind spot monitoring, daytime running lamps, a backup camera with cross path detection, fog lamps and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider has not yet been safety tested.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider

Engine:

Turbocharged 1.4-liter Inline 4-cylinder

Horsepower:

164 (Abarth model)

Torque:

184 lb.-ft.

Transmission:

6-speed manual or 6-speed Aisin automatic

Base price:

$24,995 ($27,880 with options & freight)

EPA mileage rating:

26 mpg city/35 mpg highway/30 mpg combined (AT)

Estimated highway range:

428 miles