The 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth Is a Fantastic Little Roadster That Needs a Reality Check

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It’s tough to find many wrong with a 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth, even compared to a some-more famous Mazda Miata it shares underpinnings with. It’s sporty, fun and it zips around city like any day is a gentle summer day.

The problem is, eventually, somebody needs to move a 124 behind down to Earth.

(Full disclosure: Since indication years don’t matter when it comes to fun roadsters, FCA forsaken off a 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth usually after a new year and left it for a week.)

On a surface, Fiat Chrysler’s Italian-branded roadster seems like a CO duplicate of a Miata—the 30-year-old automobile so zodiacally enjoyed that it’s tough to report succinctly yet regulating a sleepy cliché—with a opposite face, engine and badges.

But what takes a 124 from a mass marketplace to a niche one is usually that: The automobile hasn’t practiced to comment for a changes to a 2019 Miata, even in a 2019 indication year. With how identical a dual are, that’s a smirch conjunction FCA nor intensity buyers can overlook.


What Is It?

The tenure “Fiata,” that you’ve roughly positively heard, isn’t usually a inexpensive poke during FCA for creation a automobile identical to Mazda’s roadster some-more than dual decades late. The cars are indeed built alongside any other in Hiroshima, Japan, with a 124 pity a lot of tools with a current-generation Miata.

The story of their common prolongation dates behind years, to when a fourth-gen Miata had nonetheless to entrance and when everyone, including Mazda, suspicion a automobile that would share a new Miata’s underpinnings would be an Alfa Romeo. But a respect went to Fiat instead, given a late FCA trainer Sergio Marchionne wanted no Alfas to be built outward of Italy.

Thus, a 124 was reborn with a Mazda soul, 75 percent of it made in Japan and another 20 percent in Italy. Inside of a 124, it becomes clear how identical a dual are.

Specs That Matter

This 2018 124 Abarth is a $35,765 car with a turbocharged, 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that sends energy to a back wheels by a six-speed primer transmission. The Miata has a 2.0-liter inline 4 yet a turbo.


The engine creates a rated 164 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque on a Abarth—Fiat’s foe trim designated by a scorpion and named after Karl Abarth, who raced and mutated cars decades ago. That birthright is a large partial of a car, too, with Abarth logos a distance of hands all over it. Even if a people around a automobile don’t know what an Abarth is, they’ll know that this is one.

The Abarth’s energy series is usually sightly adult from a Classica and Lusso trims’ 160 HP, and, notwithstanding a Miata removing a poignant bump from 155 to 181 HP for a 2019 indication year, numbers did not change on a 2019 124 model.

That’s a shame, since it creates it harder for a 124 to practically compete. The car’s tip Abarth trim has a starting MSRP of $28,295 for 2018 and $29,290 for 2019, while a 2019 Miata’s tip Grand Touring trim can be had for a bottom MSRP of $30,780 and 26 additional HP—a decent cost per energy unit.

But a 124 Abarth is still a good car, no matter how badly it needs to adapt.

What’s Great

From a outside, a Fiat 124 is a possess car. It’s got a singular design, that is tough to accomplish yet morphing into straight-up ugly, and, in a universe where some-more empty pipes meant some-more pizzazz, a 4 pipes are a good touch.


Inside, a Miata roots start to show.

The dashboard is Miata. The infotainment complement is Miata. The stitching is Miata. The glovebox, cupholders, push-to-start symbol and meridian controls are Miata. The sign cluster has a setup identical to a one on a Miata. The doorway trims are decidedly not Miata, yet that’s a subject for a subsequent section.

Just like a Miata, though, a 124 is fun. It handles good on curvy roads, goes by a 6 brazen gears with nearby robotic ease, and has that same tight, new feeling a Miata does. The purchase is springy, a change motions are smooth, and a automobile rivals a famously parsimonious branch radius of a Mazda.

The Recaro seats are comfortable, and a leather bolsters interconnected with Alcantara backs give a automobile a sporty vibe that, distinct entirely leather seats, expected won’t shortly be injured by element aria where a chairman sits.


The automobile has a toggle next a shifter for foe mode, educational a word “SPORT” on a rigging indicator—which, distinct a Miata, doesn’t harass a motorist to upshift as shortly as a automobile approaches 2,000 rpm. It’s tough to collect out many of a doing disproportion in foe mode, yet a empty gets angrier and a automobile feels quicker on a gas.

The empty in ubiquitous is maybe a best partial of a car, and it’s positively one of a categorical things that lets it demeanour by a shade of a some-more determined Mazda sibling. The 124 Abarth rips adult to speed and crackles as it slows, yet it’s not a unnoticed tinge as if it’s sanctimonious to be some-more absolute than it is.

Instead, it’s a farty tiny noise, that is distant some-more appealing than it sounds—so appealing, even, that it’s many improved than a 2019 Miata’s upgraded exhaust, that was a outrageous alleviation over a 2018 Miata already.

For those who wish to listen to something other than a exhaust, all on a 124 is accessed yet Mazda’s stream infotainment system. The shade has dual categorical controls, a volume doorknob and one to navigate features, and can be used as a touchscreen when a automobile isn’t in motion.

Like many automaker-designed infotainment systems, a Mazda one takes a while to learn. But it becomes elementary over time, and a speakers connected to it in a 124 have decent audio peculiarity even during 70 mph. The automobile has some highway noise, as all soft-top convertibles do, yet it’s flattering good removed in a cabin.


Until recently, a 124 Abarth used to have one vital yet mostly ignored perk: a document for a $999 one-day lane experience enclosed in a MSRP, possibly a chairman leased or bought a car. That no longer relates for purchases after Jan. 1, expected associated to issues during a school hosting it, and FCA pronounced zero serve is designed during this time. That’s a outrageous detriment for a Abarth’s value, deliberation that it was something a Miata didn’t offer.

What a Abarth still has going for it, during least, is a warranty. While Mazda offers a customary three-year or 36,000-mile warranty, a 124 and other cars in a Fiat lineup come with 4 years or 50,000 miles for both a unchanging and powertrain warranties.

The 124 does remove out on that final part, though, with Mazda charity 5 years or 60,000 miles on a powertrain.

What’s Weak

The 124 Abarth arrived on a Wednesday night with an interior light out—a dim start, literally, to an differently good week with a car. But that’s not to contend all else was perfect, anyway.


In terms of energy in a Miata-124 relationship, a Fiat reigned adult until a 2019 indication year. Now that 2019 is here, though, it’s tough to keep from directly comparing a Abarth’s 164 HP to a Miata’s 181.

Since they run opposite engines, a 124’s turbo loiter and indolent acceleration underneath 3,000 rpm give it a opposite opinion than a some-more absolute Mazda. But doing is a offered indicate on these cars, not power, and some of that prodigy of slowness can be redeemed by flipping a 124 into a jumpier foe mode.

There are a few other inconveniences once a Abarth gets going, like a bright-red tachometer. It looks good when a automobile isn’t moving, yet if a motorist wants to change during high revs, a numbers on a all-red tach turn tough to discern.

Instead of carrying a redline clearly noted with a red line, it’s noted with a thin, white mottled dwindle that blends in with a rest of a gauge. Checkered flags are customarily a good thing, yet this one creates it easy to trip adult and strike redline—something an owners substantially doesn’t want.

The 124 is also tiny, like a Miata, and should have a many adjustments a tiny proportions can yield for different-sized drivers. But steering-wheel tallness ranges from low to super low—between a driver’s thighs, basically— that boundary who can drive, and eventually buy, a car.


Aside from that, a shifter struggled to go into initial several times during a week and a cessation was a bit sensitive, rattling over rough roads. The automobile did, however, take speed bumps during 25 mph surprisingly good for a size.

But a biggest beating on a 124, by far, is a doorway styling.

The 2018 and 2019 124 Abarth models usually come with black interior options. Most of a interior is plucked from a Miata, that has a matte-like finish between a leather, dashboard and stitching. That same vibe is via a Abarth, adult until a doors.

They, instead, have a glossy, antiquated demeanour that clashes—hard—with a rest of a interior. The black on a doors is a warmer tone, too, while a blacks via a rest of a interior are some-more gray. They simply demeanour like they don’t belong, that is hapless in a automobile with so many going for it.


And, given that a doorway is a initial thing someone sees when removing in a automobile and a final thing they see when removing out, it’s tough to ignore.


With a scarcely $36,000 MSRP on this 2018 indication and 2019 MSRPs that opposition a new Miata, a 124 Abarth desperately needs to adjust to a market. It’s a good automobile in a segment, yet a problem is that a approach foe has evolved.

The longer Fiat guaranty is a bonus, yet outward of people who swear by a Fiat or Abarth brands, a 124 needs possibly a energy boost or a cost diminution to be truly rival now—especially given a Miata’s some-more determined base.


Like a Miata, a 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth is a automobile someone buys since they wish to drive, not since they need it to get somewhere. It’s meant for delight rather than practicality, and in terms of driving, a Abarth brings that delight usually as good as a Miata does.


Fiat’s hostility to adjust a 124 to a market, though, creates it tough to clear as a Miata aspirant during MSRP. It relegates a Abarth, full of scorpion logos and Recaro seats, to a code automobile rather than one someone could come to a lot and buy formed on value compared to a competition—a automobile that requires a chairman to scapegoat certain perks in sequence to buy into their brand.

The Abarth is a good claimant for a code car, too, given a logos and additional touches all over. The hapless partial is, it’s so many some-more than that—if usually a cost or a energy total would give it a possibility to uncover everyone.

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