Two years ago, we hopped behind a wheel of a 2017 Fiat 124 Spider and embarked on a highway outing from Los Angeles to Pebble Beach for Monterey Car Week. Logging some-more than 700 miles with a Fiat over a march of a few days gave us a possibility to unequivocally get to know all a details and outs of a car, along with how it differed from a fourth era Mazda MX-5.
Even today, it’s formidable to plead a 124 yet mentioning a Miata in a same breath. While a Fiat wears an Italian badge, a dual cars are built on a same prolongation line during Mazda’s Hiroshima open plant and share utterly a bit of automatic DNA. But on a debut, a 124 charity a constrained choice to a MX-5 not usually given of a Italian bodywork, yet given of a Fiat-sourced, 1.4-liter turbocharged MultiAir engine.
Offering adult to 164 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque in a performance-tuned Abarth trim, a 124 Spider’s increased energy plant charity a discernible and constrained choice to a naturally aspirated two-liter underneath a hood of a Mazda, that delivered 155 hp and 148 lb-ft. of torque. But that was then.
Mazda’s engineers have spent some time reworking their four-pot in a time since, and a powerplant now delivers 181 hp and 151 lb-ft., and a indent now revs all a approach to 7500 rpm. While that competence not have unconditionally reinvented a 2019 Miata, it does offer something some-more for sports automobile cross-shoppers to ponder.
The Fiat 124 Abarth’s foe isn’t exclusively relegated to a Japanese cousin, either. Like a 124 and MX-5, a Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 are a formula of a common bid between a dual automakers to rise rear-wheel drive, budget-friendly sports cars that share their automatic underpinnings while charity a constrained pulling knowledge that’s singular to any brand.
Starting during $29,290 in Abarth guise, a Fiat 124 hasn’t been reinvented for 2019, yet there are a few inestimable changes on hand. Those embody a switch to turbocharged energy opposite a indication lineup, along with new options like a Record Monza opening exhaust complement and several coming tweaks.
Can a performance-tuned Fiat continue to reason a belligerent in face of rising competition? We headed to Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, California, to find out.
Design and tech
Apart from newly-available options packages like a Veleno Appearance Group – that adds red extraneous accents and a few upgrades to a cabin – a extraneous of a Fiat 124 Abarth stays evidently unvaried from a entrance in 2016. That’s not indispensably a bad thing though, as a 124’s retro-inspired pattern gives a drop-top a particular impression that still stays singular today.
Opting for a Abarth trim brings with it a series of upgrades that embody 17-inch aluminum wheels, a automatic limited-slip differential, a performance-tuned cessation with Bilstein monotube shocks, quad-tipped sports exhaust, singular foe seats, and raft of Abarth-specific cultured tweaks inside and out.
While a cabin doesn’t wandering distant from a fourth era Miata’s layout, Fiat and Abarth have practical their possess touches here as well, adding some Italian aptitude by approach of contrariety stitching and a reworked sign cluster. A 7.0-inch Fiat Connect touchscreen infotainment complement with a fill-in camera is given as standard, as are exhilarated seats in Lusso and Abarth-trimmed models. However, it’s value observant that a discretionary Recaro foe seats yield glorious parallel support while remaining well-padded and gentle during extended stints behind a wheel. We elite those to a customary Abarth buckets.
Dropping a tip stays a scarcely free task, and a morality of a operation invites we to do so frequently.
Dropping a tip stays a scarcely effortless, one-handed task, and a morality of a operation invites a motorist to do so frequently. Although a lightweight cloth tip can usually do so many to diminish highway sound during speed, it’s aided by an acoustically-treated windshield and additional sound deadening to assistance keep a pole during excusable levels – and noticeably reduce than a Mazda-badged counterpart.
Two-seater ragtops aren’t typically famous for their roominess or storage capacity, yet a 124 does exaggerate best-in-class load room during 4.94 cubic-feet, while conduct and legroom are surprisingly copiousness for taller folks like your author.
Our chair time in a 2019 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth was disdainful to a several opening pulling exercises that a folks during Skip Barber Racing School had set adult for us on and around a Streets of Willow highway course. Driven behind to behind with a Fiat 500 Abarth – a indication that is encouraged by a same engine and has a scarcely matching quell weight – highlights a luminosity of a 124 Abarth when driven with sporting purpose.
While a rear-wheel expostulate blueprint gives a 124 an apparent advantage right out of a gate, it’s a framework change that’s maybe many striking, aided in no tiny partial by a nearby 50-50 weight placement with a motorist on-board. The Abarth loves to dance, and somewhat some-more assertive cessation tuning that Abarth engineers practical here contra Mazda’s tuning for MX-5 Club curtails a conspicuous of a physique hurl exhibited by a Japanese sports car, and that in spin bolsters motorist certainty during a limit. Truth be told, we’d cite even agree doing than what a 124 Abarth offers, and we’d be peaceful to give adult a small bit of cessation correspondence to get it.
It’s a framework change that’s maybe many striking, aided by near-perfect weight placement with a motorist on-board.
A Sport Mode selector on a core console also helps compute a pulling knowledge from a Miata, dialing adult a stifle attraction and steering weight while relaxation a reigns of a fortitude control system. However, when unequivocally pulling a car, some drivers might find a electronic nannies to still be a small too invasive for lane use, even when Sport Mode is active.
But disabling traction and fortitude control is as elementary as a pull of button, and doing so extended both path times and fun cause in a experience. High horsepower cars can be handful on lane when we tell a wiring to take a night off, yet in a automobile like a 124 Spider Abarth, it only allows a framework to arrangement a loyal character. And that’s a smashing thing.
Fiat offers a four-year, 50,000 mile simple warranty, a four-year, 50,000 mile powertrain warranty, and a 12-year, unlimited-mileage guaranty opposite gnawing on a new 124 Spider Abarth. Four years of roadside assistance is also included.
How DT would configure this car
We’d cruise a Record Monza empty to be essential as well, not only for a snarl yet given we beheld it can be formidable to hear a engine revs over breeze and highway sound during speed with a tip down. When swapping gears manually it compulsory us to take a eyes off a highway to demeanour during a tachometer some-more mostly than we would have liked, so an authoritively shrill empty complement serves some-more of a purpose than only bumping adult a cold points in this situation.
Most examples of 124 Spider Abarth are going to spend copiousness of time on open roads as well, so it’s critical not to forget about a quadruped comforts, too. The discretionary nine-speaker Bose reward audio complement would be good value a weight chastisement to us, while a discretionary adaptive LED headlamps that are enclosed as partial of a Visibility Group package enhances reserve and visible interest with no drawbacks other than a thinner wallet.
The Fiat 124 Abarth was a good sports automobile when it debuted in 2016. The problem, however, is that it stays roughly unvaried currently while a rivals continue to labour their offerings – Subaru recently debuted a Performance Package as good as a STI-tuned tS model for a BRZ, while Toyota recently denounced a TRD-tuned iteration of a 86 that evidently mirrors Subaru’s Performance Package for a BRZ.
But as nimble and able as a 86 and BRZ might be, they’re particularly incomparable and heavier than a 2,500-pound Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, and that creates a Fiat’s Japanese cousin a primary competition. The Mazda MX-5 is even lighter than a Fiat by about a hundred pounds, yet in years past, a 124’s turbocharged powerplant helped to even a score.
However, now that a MX-5 has perceived a aforementioned engine updates for 2019, a value tender charity by a Fiat has turn reduction clear. While a increased Fiat indent still offers an additional 33 lb-ft. of torque compared to a MX-5’s naturally aspirated two-liter, it’s now down 17 hp to a Mazda.
Power plants aside, a existence is that conjunction a 2019 Fiat 124 or a 2019 Mazda MX-5 are extravagantly opposite from a machines they were a few years ago. But a fact that Mazda continues to rise and file a sports car, while Fiat seems to be calm to simply say pace, might infer to be a determining cause for many cross-shoppers.