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Fiat 124 roadster to get Abarth makeover as performance brand’s halo model
The Fiat 124 Spider – due next year – might have a retro nameplate, but its performance and handling will be right up to date. After months of speculation, the company has confirmed that the sister car to the Mazda MX-5 will definitely spawn a high-performance Abarth version, and usher in a new generation of Abarth models that’s faster and more focused than ever before.
“You like performance? There will be an Abarth version,” said Alfredo Altavilla, Fiat Chrysler Group’s chief operating officer.
He confirmed that there will be two versions of the 124 Spider – a “comfortable” Fiat model and a more “extreme” Abarth.
Our exclusive images show how the car could look. With a gaping mesh grille and large air vents cut into the bumper, the Abarth version adopts a meaner stance.
The more aggressive styling also includes a carbon-fibre splitter and side skirts, plus multi-spoke Abarth alloys with bright red brake calipers and lowered suspension. To the rear, two large exhausts poke out from a carbon-fibre diffuser and there are extra air vents to expel hot air from the rear brakes.
As for what will power the Abarth roadster, a detuned version of the Alfa Romeo 4C’s 237bhp 1.75-litre turbocharged engine is the current front runner, producing around 200bhp. In a car that’s unlikely to be heavier than a tonne, that’s enough for an identical power-to-weight ratio to the Porsche Boxster GTS, so a 0-62mph sprint time of around five seconds flat is feasible.
Mazda bosses poured cold water on any possibility of a high-performance version of the new MX-5 earlier this month, pointing out that their roadster is more about handling purity than horsepower. In light of that, an Abarth 124 that will exploit the potential in the shared chassis is great news for performance fans everywhere.
The new 124 Spider will become the halo product in the revitalised performance brand’s range, along with updated Abarth 500 models due in mid-2016 and another as-yet-unconfirmed car. Altavilla revealed that Abarth will make more extreme models rather than ‘warmed-over’ Fiats – and last year’s bonkers Abarth 695 Biposto was apparently just the start.
“What I wanted to do with Biposto was mark a very clear cut with the past,” explained Altavilla. “Abarth is all about performance and so I’ve told my team to stop working on colours and trims. Any new version of an Abarth car should deliver some sort of a performance enhancement, otherwise it is useless.
“We went too far with the Punto Abarth – the Punto is a family car and the Abarth version was seen as a bit of a stretch. I stopped production of it 15 months ago because it was not targeted at the true Abarth customer – an Abarth has to be something special and a family car cannot offer this.”