LOS ANGELES – There may be a Mazda MX-5 chassis underpinning the ’17 Fiat 124 Spider, but who cares as long as the top drops, the engine sings and the styling screams “la dolce vita?”

That’s what FCA’s Fiat brand is counting on when it reintroduces the 124 Spider roadster to the U.S. market in 2016 after a three-decade absence.

“This car distills the best qualities of the old car,” says Ralph Gilles, FCA design director at a special event prior to the Los Angeles auto show unveiling of the new model. “This car is going to change lives. It is the anti-commodity.”

Bold statements, indeed, but the 124 Spider appears to have the goods to back up the swagger. Building on the already-winning MX-5 platform, Fiat adds a 1.4L turbocharged MultiAir I-4 engine producing 160 hp and 184 lb.-ft. (249 Nm) of torque, driving the rear wheels through either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. The MX-5 is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0L I-4 making 155 hp and 148 lb.-ft. (201 Nm) of torque

The body work is all Fiat as well, starting up front with styling that designer Felix Kilbertus says mimics a human face, with a broadly smiling grille and three-segment round headlights as eyes, recessed and lightly lidded by sheet metal to recall Spiders past.

Spider heritage also influences the long, low hood and power domes as well as the horizontal rear lamps and bird-in-flight “V” styling of the stubby decklid and rear fenders, Kilbertus says.

Although many interior elements are shared with the MX-5, Fiat injects its own level of luxury materials, including a sport steering wheel, seats and shifter to distinguish the 124 Spider. Gauges, graphics, door panels and the upper dash trim also are unique.