Abarth 124 Spider-15

It’s summer in Europe, and a good time for the Abarth 124 Spider to surface in the continent. The drop top is the Abarth-tuned version of the Fiat 124 Spider, which in turn is based on the latest ND Mazda MX-5. It’s made in Hiroshima alongside the Miata, but the Fiat has unique body panels and its own powertrain – turbo instead of NA.

The standard Spider is powered by a 1.4 litre MultiAir Turbo engine with 160 hp at 5,500 rpm and 250 Nm of torque at 2,500 rpm. Here, the blown four-pot gains ten more horses to make 170 hp. 0-100 km/h is completed in 6.8 seconds on to a top speed of 232 km/h. Abarth’s “Record Monza” exhaust is standard, and a “unique growl” is promised. Also included in the RWD roadster is a mechanical self-locking differential.

The 1,060 kg Abarth Spider is available with a six-speed manual or the automatic “Sequenziale Sportivo” gearbox with steering paddle shifters.

Abarth 124 Spider-18

The scorpion brand says that the Spider’s dynamic set-up is for increasing stability in corners and for compression braking. The Bilstein shock absorbers, specifically calibrated springs and oversized anti-roll bars ensure optimal handling, it is claimed. The Brembo braking system has four-piston callipers on the front wheels. The steering has be recalibrated.

There’s no mistaking this car for the standard Fiat 124 Spider, thanks to the black-painted bonnet and boot panels, plus red highlights on the front lip, tow hook cap and wing mirrors. The three items are in grey for red and blue paint options.

By the way, the black hood is a nod to the classic Abarth 124 Rally, which had it to prevent the driver from being dazzled by the sun. Customers can choose to have the panels in body colour for no extra cost.

Abarth 124 Spider-22

Painted as such, the Abarth 124 Spider looks rather cartoonish to these eyes, although that probably wasn’t the intended effect of the more aggressive bumpers, additional vents, sportier 17-inch rims in grey and two extra exhaust tips (to make four).

Compared to the stock 124, the Abarth car gets unique seats, a red centre marker on the steering, a red-backed tachometer, Alcantara-style trim on the dash and the famous scorpion logo, of course. The MX-5’s nine-speaker Bose stereo with dual headrest speakers is an option.

Each car is tested and certified by an Abarth technician who applies a metal plaque with the sequential number of each car, the company says. What do you think of this Italian take on the MX-5? I prefer the original.

GALLERY: Abarth 124 Spider

GALLERY: Fiat 124 Spider