Following a seemingly extended period of speculation and leaks, the new Fiat 124 Spider has finally been officially unveiled.

Based on the Mazda MX-5, the Fiat 124 Spider is said to take design inspiration from its 1966 namesake.

While the proportions are all very similar to its Japanese sister car, there are elements that differentiate it, notably the higher rear haunches and the unique front end.

The interior, however, is carried over from the MX-5 almost untouched, complete with Mazda’s excellent MZD Connect infotainment system, with the changes limited to door handles, instrument cluster fonts and, of course, a Fiat badge on the steering wheel.

The fabric soft-top is described as ‘spring assisted’ – marketing-speak for manually operated – and it operates with the same ease as that on the Japanese car.

Where the Fiat 124 does differentiate itself, however, is in its powerplant.  Power comes from a 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo petrol engine with 140hp and 240Nm of torque, although it is understood an Abarth version will follow with a more interesting 170hp.

Interestingly, this is the first time Fiat’s popular 1.4-litre unit has been used in a rear-wheel-drive configuration, and – in Europe, at least – it will be mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

An automatic gearbox is expected to be offered in the US, but no word has been forthcoming as to whether that will be available here.

What will also be interesting to see will be whether Fiat have managed to retain the MX-5’s excellent poise and balance.

The 1.5-litre MX-5, for instance, is slightly better balanced than the heavier 2.0-litre version, and although Fiat mentions reducing yaw inertia through engine placement, they don’t appear to make any claims about revisions made specifically for this drivetrain.

Fiat say the 124 Spider will go on sale in the UK during the second half of 2016.

There’s currently no word on pricing or specifications, although the company does say that gadgets such as adaptive headlights, reversing camera, rain-sensitive wipers and keyless entry will all be available.

An Anniversario model will be offered to celebrate 50 years since the introduction of the 1966 original, although it’s not clear if it will be available in the UK.