The Abarth package adds upgraded wheels, brakes and paint. The Abarth package adds upgraded wheels, brakes and paint. Photos by Tim Miller

Fiat 124 Spider Abarth – Italian Flair with a Japanese Twist

Written by  Tim Miller on Wednesday, 16 January 2019 15:00

The latest generation of this iconic Italian sports car has a fair bit of Japanese-based DNA, but this is a good thing.

A mixture of Italian style and Japanese engineering based on the Mazda MX5 Miata platform, the Spider has enough enhancements to provide its own unique position in this market.
With its 1.4-liter turbocharged Fiat engine, upgraded suspension tuning and upscale interior, the 124 Spider, especially in Abarth form, provides enough machine to enjoy twisty roads and old-school top-down motoring.

LIKES
The little engine, once over its turbo lag, comes on strong and provides a throaty exhaust note. The interior is well-appointed, and the operation of the manual top is quick and simple.

WHAT’S BEST
This Fiat offers exhilarating driving and is a pleasure to wind up through the gears and the Abarth version provides near-neutral handling.

WHAT’S WORST
Turbo lag may be bothersome, there is almost nil interior storage space and the horn sounds like it belongs on a mini-van.

OVERALL
While the market is small, the Fiat 124 Spider should be considered. It is large enough for a weekend trip for two, rides well considering its size and has all the creature comforts drivers want these days. Whether it is worth the extra $13,000 to get the Abarth version in lieu of slightly more performance and Abarth badging is debatable, but in keeping with the car’s character, Fiat should install Fiamm air horns on the Spider.

DETAILS
BASE PRICE: $37, 995
PRICE AS TESTED: $50,875
ENGINE: 1.4-liter turbocharged inline four.
POWER/TORQUE: 164 HP, 184 LB-FT.
FUEL MILEAGE: 9.5 L/100 KM city, 7.2 L/100 KM highway.
DRIVETRAIN: Rear-wheel-drive / Six-speed manual gearbox (six-speed automatic optional) / Double wishbone front suspension / Brembo four-wheel disc brakes / Bridgestone 205/45VR17 tires.
SPECIFICATIONS: Weight: 1133 KG (2500 LB) / Wheelbase: 2308 MM (90.9”) / Fuel capacity: 45.04 L (11.9 Gal) / Storage space: 140 cubic L (4.9 cubic feet).

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