Performance sells! Fiat’s Abarth performance line has proven to be a large boost to association sales. Granted, we’re not articulate Ford F-150/Toyota Camry numbers here. Fiat sole usually underneath 5,000 124s final year and roughly 13,000 500s. But of those comparatively scanty sales, Abarths have represented 26 percent. Specifically, 14 percent of 500s and a critical 40 percent of 124 Spiders. That’s flattering good lapse on investment and something let’s wish other carmakers notice. Say it again: Performance sells!
Fiat combined a Abarth name to a offerings in a U.S. 6 years ago on a lovable small 500. Back afterwards we remarkable that a framework was 15mm lower, with new Koni FSD shocks to assistance boost hurl rigidity 40 percent front and rear; there is a 0.9-degree boost in front finish disastrous camber; and a behind cessation gets an antiroll bar where nothing existed before. Power rocketed adult from 101 batch to 160 in Abarth trim, and torque rose from 98 to 170 lb-ft interjection to a small turbocharger, twin intercoolers and Fiat’s simple-but-effective MultiAir intake camshaft government complement that hydraulically varies intake valve lift and generation to enlarge and squash energy and torque curves. The stream indication year’s Pop and Lounge models of a 500 start with 135 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque, btw.
We gathering a 500 Abarth behind afterwards — 6 years ago — during Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in pleasing Pahrump, Nevada, and had a good time shifting it over a small whoop-dee-doo on that track’s western loop. It was as quick as your many emotionally secure associate — no matter how we gathering it. “We guess a Abarth chronicle of a 500 is roughly twice as many fun to expostulate as a batch chronicle of a car,” we pronounced then.
Four years after that, Fiat introduced a 124 Spider, roving on a Miata chassis and powered by a Fiat Italian drivetrain. The 124 Spider got a Abarth diagnosis in 2016, with 164 hp, 4 some-more than standard, and 184 lb-ft of torque. It rode, and continues to float on, Bilstein shocks front and rear, with a automatic limited-slip diff, front strut building bar, competition mode selector and a possess exhaust.
Last week Fiat brought a garland of Abarths together during Willow Springs racetrack and let several of us press dopes secrete them around a squiggly Streets of Willow highway march for a day. I’m guessing Fiat wanted to remind a universe that these are still fun to expostulate and that they are still accessible for purchase. Hey, anything that formula in lane time in fun cars is excellent by me.
Just to make certain we stayed on a lane during Willow, Fiat hired a Skip Barber Racing School to remind everybody to peak early and often. More specifically, we were guided by mythological competition pulling instructor Terry Earwood, who regaled us with backwoods Georgia/Florida amusement (“Now here’s sumthin’ some o’ yew might notta evera seen, a diploma!”). If we can take a category taught by Earwood, take it. It’ll be value a weight in pulling tips yet also in hilarity.
We were divided into dual groups, those who mighta famous what they were doing on a racetrack and those who certified they didn’t. Somehow we got placed in a former. Yee haw! First laps were in a 124 Spider Abarth around a soppy movement pad where we schooled that we try too tough to redeem after spinning out. I’m a recuperating spinner. we had Earwood roving shotgun, so that was fun. “Ya gotta demeanour where ya wanna go, not where ya already are!” he said. That was, like, life advice, too. Thank you, Terry!
Then we got to path The Streets of Willow in 500 Abarths. The 500, obviously, is front-wheel drive, an inherently safer setup reduction disposed to crazy spinning out. Even in a opening Abarth trim, it was still quick as a nonradioactive isotope. My sense, after many laps going flattering damn fast, was that we could usually toss a whole Abarth thing into any dilemma any approach we wanted, during any speed, and come safely out a exit of a spin prepared for more. Even with a expostulate mode selector in sport, it was waggly yet safe, never scarily so and never unequivocally dangerously. You can always save yourself in a Fiat 500 Abarth. The small four-banger could simply lift around a Cinqucento, yet infrequently we wish there was some-more energy underneath a hood, generally when a powerband started descending off during around 6,000 or 6,500 rpm.
Then we were incited lax in a 124 Spider Abarths. These are different. The biggest disproportion — duh — is that they are rear-wheel drive, inherently reduction quick and inherently many some-more fun. Every path was finished with competition mode intent and a behind finish looser than a slots in Vegas’ No. 1-voted off-strip casino. My initial tour we was on a fender of one of a fastest, if not the fastest automobile reporters ever born, usually ask anyone, and we watched in horror, a roar held in my throat usually like Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween XXVII,” as he got a automobile totally laterally right in front of me entrance onto The Streets’ big, prosaic movement pad area. we corroborated off, awaiting glow trucks, gait cars and maybe a rescue chopper or dual to come resounding onto a lane underneath full-course red conditions with black flags fluttering from each dilemma worker. But … no one cared. He straightened out and we proceeded on, me carrying forsaken behind about a retard and a half out of perfect terror.
So we started pulling a limit, too. And, certain enough, a Fiat 124 Spider in Abarth opening trim began to shake around. The springs and shocks felt softer than we would have expected, there was some roll, some easy tail-happiness, maybe too many of it. Now, we was there during what was afterwards called usually plain aged Laguna Seca when they introduced a Spec Miata competition automobile about 400 years ago, and we remember meditative afterwards that a Spec Miata Racer was so protected that it was roughly boring. Don’t send in your hatred mail, I’m usually saying, or maybe we should say, that we had a sense after several laps of a lane afterwards famous as Laguna Seca that a Spec Miata during that time felt like it was set adult to be unequivocally safe, we were doubtful to breeze adult in a weeds or even to spin out. Likewise, a Toyota 86 TRD Special Edition we gathering during a Exotics Racing lane outward Auto Club Speedway in Fontana 3 months ago did not even spirit that it would be removing out of line during any indicate whatsoever. That was in contrariety to a batch Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ, that slides gracefully around all day, a tail relocating out accurately as many as we wish it to before tucking behind in precisely when we tell it to tuck. This Fiat 124 Spider Abarth was distant wilder and some-more tail-happy than a Spec Miata we gathering many years ago and some-more so than a 86/BRZs I’ve driven, too.
Coming over that small mountain on a backside of The Streets of Willow, we indeed did start to see a behind finish of my automobile ramble out a satisfactory volume once, yet nowhere nearby as many as a World’s Greatest Car Writer had finished usually mins before. we collected it behind inline immediately but, of course, a whole lead-follow way afterwards slowed down, as if we was a playground chimp that it was unexpected satisfied had somehow gotten reason of a appurtenance gun. But we was distant reduction out of line than that other guy! Just check a in-car video (of that there was, uh, none).
So what did we learn today? Who knows? What’s unequivocally compulsory here is to do an on-track comparo between a Spec Miata, a 124 Spider Abarth and one or all of a BRZ/86 combinations of cars. Maybe a batch Mustang and Camaro four-cylinders should be considered, too. But I’m going to go out on a prong here and broadcast a Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ, in batch form, to be a many fun we can have in this class.