A tasty Italian sports car and a trip to buy delicious handmade pasta sounded like an appetising plan.

But I had driven less than a quarter of a mile in the elegant Fiat 124 Spider when the words of the late, great motoring writer Phil Llewellin started ringing in my ears. And he wasn’t happy.

I was cruising along and I had left the roof up. Now Phil was a kind, calm and considerate man, but I once felt the sharp edge of his tongue when I rolled up at a motoring launch in a Porsche Boxster – with the roof up.

He strolled up to me, flashed a scary smile and said: “Dave. Convertibles are convertible for a reason. Put the roof down and enjoy the fresh air.”

That was 13 years ago and today, as then, it was a bit chilly; I hadn’t got a jumper; it looked like it might rain… I pulled over and put the roof down.

Am I glad I did, for only with the wind in your hair can you truly enjoy everything the 124 Spider has to offer.

So off we set to Stroud Farmers' Market where we knew Bristol-based Little Hollows Pasta would have a stall, with the rear-wheel-drive roadster delivering all the open-air delights associated with two-wheel travel, while cosseting both driver and passenger in hugely comfortable, supportive, heated leather seats.

Steering is light and handling is sharp and precise, as you would expect, but a real surprise is the superb ride comfort, delivered thanks to the hidden combination of an elegant double wishbone suspension arrangement at the front and a multilink set-up at the rear.

The two-seater encompasses the classic beauty of its 1966 predecessor with a low centre of gravity, retracted cockpit and a stretched bonnet complete with a pair of classic power "humps".

Power comes from an in-line mounted, 140 horsepower, four-cylinder 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, linked to a slick six-speed manual gearbox.

Fiat says the upper hexagonal grille was inspired by the form of the front air intakes on the vintage model and recalls the honeycomb structure of the original’s sporty grille.

Inside, the car is bang up to date with a central controller between the seats allowing you to switch the dashboard-mounted, touchscreen display between satellite navigation, in-car entertainment and Bluetooth phone.

Instrumentation is simple and clear with white digital figures on a black background dominated by a large central rev counter, speedometer to the right and fuel gauge and computer read-outs to the left.

Folding down the roof can be achieved while sitting in the driver’s seat by releasing one roof-mounted catch and simply folding back the top to click into place behind the headrests.

So treat yourself. Put down the roof and have as much fun as it is possible to have in a Fiat and tuck in. Phil would thoroughly approve.


Auto facts

Model: Fiat 124 Spider 1.4 Multiair Lusso Plus

Price: £24,995

Insurance group: 26E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 44.1mpg

Top speed: 134mph

Length: 405.4cm/159.6in

Width: 174cm/68.5n

Luggage capacity: Five cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 9.9 gallons/45 litres

CO2 emissions: 148g/km

Warranty: Three years/100,000 miles