Car Review: 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

Two years ago, we collected a Fiat 124 Spider and a Mazda MX-5 together and found, of a two, a Mazda to be a softened sports car. Well, that’s since a 124 Spider we gathering wasn’t an Abarth various — and if it was, it certainly would’ve won. That’s since a 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth is a best Mazda MX-5 we can buy.

The 124 is, of course, a Fiat-ized chronicle of a MX-5. It shares a framework and an interior with a Mazda, yet nothing of a extraneous physique panels interchange. And yet looks are subjective, yours truly thinks this is a really good thing — a 124 replaces a peculiar contours of a MX-5 with some-more classical lines and an altogether some-more appreciative shape.

But a genuine differences are underneath a skin, where a Fiat trades Mazda’s routinely aspirated 2.0L inline-four for a 1.4L turbo-four. Given a MX-5’s considerable energy strike to 181 horsepower for 2019, so a Fiat indeed trails in horsepower, with only 164 on tap. But a genuine figure is a torque: The Mazda creates 151 lb.-ft. during 4,000 rpm, while a Fiat creates a clever 184 lb.-ft. during a many reduce 2,500 rpm. Quite simply, a 124 has many some-more mid-range punch than a MX-5, and feels many faster when squirting around in traffic. But a automobile like this wasn’t done for traffic.

The Fiat did get some really excellent genes indeed from a MX-5, and as a result, it’s one of a sweetest, many pristine pushing practice we can buy in 2018. The steering is divine, a pushing position is illusory and a shifter is a joy. The bottom 124 is a bit too soothing for a liking, yet a Abarth fixes that censure handily; it’s what a 124 should have been all along. The automobile positively dances by turns; with a additional torque, we can fire yourself brazen into a subsequent spin with a gloomy whoosh of initiation noise. It’s a fun car, and you’ll wish to hurl it around on-ramps and backroads for a perfect fun of it.

The Abarth upgrades won’t be found in a engine bay. Horsepower is adult by only 4 over a customary indication and torque is unchanged. Mechanical upgrades are singular to stiffer Bilstein shocks and a limited-slip differential. Of course, we get cold Abarth scorpion badges for a nose, tail and wheels. But those cold Brembo front brakes? They’re a full $1,995 choice and not enclosed with a Abarth package. And we need to speak about a options on this car.

The Abarth starts during a reasonable $37,995 yet a tester was optioned out to a full $48,880 — flattering damn abounding for only 164 horsepower. The leather seats are a $1,295 option, and heated, auto-dimming mirrors, behind park support and blind-spot monitoring need a $1,500 “convenience group” package. It also had satellite radio, and a nine-speaker Bose stereo for $1,600.

And a many gross of all? That flat-black hood and case diagnosis is a $2,995 option. Personally, we consider i could accomplish a same demeanour with a can of plasti-dip and a giveaway afternoon and save myself a integrate thousand. It all adds adult to $10,885 value of options — many of that we could do without. I’d check a box for a aforementioned Brembos and one some-more for a $1,695 Recaro seats; a customary units are too slight in a shoulder for even a stringbean like myself.

Sadly, a limiting seats are only a tiny partial of a pushing annoy as shortly as we strike a highway. we comprehend a a soft-top, yet compared to a folding hardtop MX-5 RF, a boost in breeze sound is drastic. we kept checking to make certain we hadn’t lost to hurl adult a window. The 124 is shrill on a highway — and not a fun way, either. It’s all tire and breeze noise, and whoever is pushing beside you. And you’d wish to drown out a hubbub by branch adult a radio, yet notwithstanding carrying 9 speakers during your disposal, a sound comes out tinny, with no mid-range and contingency be incited adult rather high to hear a strain good during 110 km/h. Not an ideal highway outing car.

Which begs a doubt since we chose to take it on a 1,600-kilometre highway outing from Toronto to Quebec City and back. Because it’s fun! If a hatchback done that many highway sound on a highway, you’d expostulate it into a sea. But in a sports car? It’s only a partial of a experience. There’s a smashing stroke to highway tripping a small 124. You lay tighten to your newcomer in a friendly cocoon, skipping over enlargement joints in your Bilstein-suspended sportster. we averaged 7.6 L/100 kilometres along a way, to boot. Not stellar for a 1.4L four-cylinder, yet flattering good for a sports car.

Despite friendly confines, a 124 was a good road-trip car

Clayton Seams /


My final uncertainty is with a transmission. Not since of how it shifts or feels, yet a tangible rigging ratios. See, initial rigging has a really low 4.4:1 ratio and second has a high 2.3:1 ratio. This means a revs dump annoyingly low when changeable from initial to second rigging and we have to make that change often. For example, a change during a comparatively high 3,000 rpm from initial rigging will dump we down to a chugging 1,700 in second.

That leaves a 1.4 good out of boost, and you’ll be struggling to accelerate with a upsurge of traffic. Shifting into second during even 2,000 rpm — and give a automobile a possibility of not being painfully delayed — means we have to float initial rigging to a full 4,000 rpm. That’s only not unsentimental or beguiling in a city.

None of that creates me wish to buy one any less, though. Once rolling with tip down, a 124 Abarth is scarcely yet peer. In a universe where some-more and some-more cars offer to chip in and do a pushing for you, a 124 Abarth is a automobile you’ll want to drive. Skip a stripes and pricey digital options, and you’ll have as some-more fun than only about anything on a road.

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