Great news for Abarth fans at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show: Fiat's performance arm has given the 124 Spider roadster a racy makeover including more power, sportier styling and a tweaked chassis. UK prices have been announced, and it kicks off from £29,565.
It's only been a few weeks since we've driven the regular 124 Spider, and we came away very impressed with that car. But it's already hotted up, and the Abarth version will become the 'halo' car for Fiat's performance arm. Abarth's online configurator has already gone live ahead of Fiat's own, allowing customers to spec and pre-order their cars.
Image 6 of 19
Whilst that price is a substantial £10,000 increase over the 124 Spider's predicted starting point, it does at least get more power. The 1.4 MultiAir turbo unit jumps up from 138bhp to 168bhp, while torque also increases by a modest 10Nm to 250Nm.
Not huge increases, then, but that makes it capable of 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, which is half a second quicker than the 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. The top speed is 143mph. It weighs just 1060kg meaning a power-to-weight ratio of 158bhp-per-tonne, while Abarth claims it sounds much sportier thanks to a new Record Monza exhaust system.
The Abarth model gets a stiffer suspension setup than the regular Fiat 124 Spider, with Bilstein dampers and beefed-up anti-roll bars. Bigger Brembo brakes also feature, with aluminium calipers. It can be had with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with paddles, and the latter gets a Sport mode for quicker shifts.
The standard Abarth 124 Spider is already racier-looking than Fiat's version, but the Geneva show car is specced with the 'Heritage Look' pack, which is a no-cost option. It brings a matt black bonnet and bootlid, plus red exterior trim detailing.
Image 8 of 19
The £29,565 price gets you standard equipment such as cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and satnav, plus Alcantara black and red (or pure black) seat trim. The automatic gearbox is a £2,035 extra, while an optional visibility pack brings LED DRLs, auto lights and wipers and rear parking sensors.
Abarth has also announced a triumphant return to rallying, with a monstrous 300bhp Abarth 124 Rally also displayed at Geneva.
Alfredo Altavilla, Fiat Chrysler Group’s chief operating officer, confirmed last year there would be a more hardcore Abarth 124 Spider on the horizon.
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.
Image 10 of 19
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.