Web twins: Abarth and Fiat 124 Spiders at Geneva | CAR Magazine

Web twins: Abarth and Fiat 124 Spiders at Geneva

Published: 05 March 2016 Updated: 05 March 2016

► First look at Abarth 124 Spider
► Plus Fiat roadster for sub-£20k
► All the news from Geneva motor show

The Italians brought the 124 Spider to Europe with a double-whammy of Abarth and Fiat roadsters at the 2016 Geneva motor show

First unveiled at the LA auto show in 2015, the Mazda MX-5-derived sports cars have now crossed the Pond – and the big news was a faster Abarth 124 Spider version.

The Abarth sports car: the lowdown

Launching in September 2016, the new Abarth 124 Spider will be priced from €40,000 in Europe (around £31,000). It’s been breathed on by the Abarth racing team: its 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo produces 168bhp and 184lb ft of torque, sent to the rear wheels via a mechanical limited-slip differential.

It’s enough, claim the Italians, for 0-62mph in 6.8sec and a top speed of 143mph. A sports exhaust is fitted to provide a fruitier soundtrack, despite the diminutive capacity. As well as the Mediterranean couture, the turbocharging is one of the key differences between the naturally aspirated Mazda.

Abarth quotes a 1060kg kerbweight and 50:50 distribution of mass; combined with some chassis tweakery including Bilstein dampers and stiffer anti-roll bars, it should give the MX-5 foundations subtly different handling characteristics to its Japanese brethren.

Brakes inside the 17in wheels are by Brembo, while buyers can pick a six-speed manual or Sequenziale Sportivo paddle-shift automatic. Each 124 carries a numbered Abarth plaque and can be specced with a matt black bonnet and bootlid finish to complement the rally-referencing paint jobs, and Alcantara cabin upholstery.

Fiat 124 Spider: prices confirmed below £20,000

Sister brand Fiat brought its own 124 Spider to Europe for the first time and confirmed more EU specs. It uses the same 1.4 MultiAir petrol turbo as the Abarth, but detuned to 138bhp and 177lb ft.

It’s correspondingly slower, with 0-62mph taking 7.5sec and v-max is 134mph. Crucially, the price is also smaller – Fiat has confirmed UK Spiders will be priced below £20,000 when right-hand drive sales start in the third quarter of 2016.

All UK 124 models come with air-con, cruise control, alloys, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless start and leather steering wheels.

Early birds can order one of 124 Anniversary Editions, priced from £23,295 and designed to commemorate the original 124 Spider’s launch in Turin in 1966. They come with LED adaptive headlamps, 7in touchscreen, sat-nav, nine-speaker Bose stereo and DAB radio.

Click here for our Geneva motor show homepage

The Abarth 124 rally version

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words