New 124 Spi­der heads Down Un­der

Pilbara News - - Motoring - Ewan Kennedy

Abarth is to Fiat what HSV is to Holden and AMG to Mercedes; an or­gan­i­sa­tion that takes stan­dard cars and turns them into hot sports and/or rac­ing ma­chines.

The lat­est one to come to Aus­tralia, the Abarth 124 Spi­der, is now on a ship Down Un­der and goes on sale on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 7.

Carlo Abarth al­ready had a strong back­ground of build­ing rac­ing cars be­fore he set up his own com­pany in Bologna, Italy in 1949.

His star sign was Scorpio and he chose a scor­pion-based badge for his spe­cials. His first tuned Fiat was built in 1951 in a new Abarth fac­tory in Turin. Fiat took over the Abarth or­gan­i­sa­tion in 1971 and be­came Fiat’s rac­ing de­part­ment.

Many fast Fi­ats have been tuned and built by Abarth in the in­ter­ven­ing years and the 124 Spi­der road­ster is the lat­est in a long line of re­spected cars that are pop­u­lar in Europe, though still rel­a­tively rare in Aus­tralia.

Abarth 124 Spi­der has a com­plex blood­line; the body was de­signed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Mazda, which even­tu­ally re­sulted in the re­cently launched MX-5.

Though you can see the sim­i­lar­i­ties in body shape, it comes as no sur­prise that the Ital­ian Abarth has a more ag­gres­sive look than the Ja­panese Mazda.

Again, not a sur­prise is that the Ital­ian ma­chine has full-on sports car in­ten­tions.

The Abarth 124 Spi­der’s en­gine is built in the Euro­pean Abarth fac­tory, then shipped to Ja­pan for in­stal­la­tion in the Spi­der in the same fac­tory that as­sem­bles the MX-5. The Ital­ian en­gine is a four­cylin­der tur­bocharged 1.4-litre unit pro­duc­ing 125kW of power at 5500rpm, and 250Nm of torque that be­gins at a rel­a­tively low 2500rpm.

The en­gine is mated to ei­ther a six-speed man­ual or six-speed torque-con­ver­tor au­to­matic with pad­dle-shift over­rides.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion from zero to 100km/h takes only 6.8 sec­onds.

The turbo-petrol en­gine is in­stalled be­hind the front axle, so tech­ni­cally the Spi­der is mi­dengined, with all that means in the way of dy­namic balance and agility.

As in any pure sports car the Abarth Spi­der is driven by the rear wheels. A me­chan­i­cal limited-slip dif­fer­en­tial sits be­tween the wheels. The sus­pen­sion of the Abarth 124 Spi­der has a dou­blewish­bone lay­out in front and a fivelink set up in the rear.

Sports sus­pen­sion is very much part of the pack­age and is based around Bil­stein shock ab­sorbers. Brembo brakes are stan­dard.

We are as­sured the chrome quad-tip sports ex­haust makes all the right noises. Even bet­ter, it can be up­graded with an op­tional dual-mode Monza ex­haust sys­tem.

Abarth 124 Spi­der has a Sport Mode that changes the cal­i­bra­tions of the en­gine, au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, elec­tric power steer­ing and dy­namic sta­bil­ity control sys­tem.

The Abarth 124 Spi­der is equipped with so­phis­ti­cated elec­tronic aids and ac­tive safety fea­tures. How­ever, when driven on a race­track, the new 124 Spi­der lets the driver dis­en­gage the elec­tron­ics to take full control of the ma­chine.

Though we haven’t sam­pled the sounds and feel of the hot Abarth for our­selves yet, we’ve been in­vited to the me­dia launch in early Oc­to­ber and will re­port back im­me­di­ately after­wards.

The Abarth 124 Spi­der will be on sale in all Aus­tralian Fiat deal­er­ships. Fi­nal prices are yet to be an­nounced, but ex­pect them to start in the low to mid-$40,000.

In Europe, the car is also sold as a stan­dard model, the Fiat 124 Spi­der. We are told there are no plans to im­port it to Aus­tralia as the com­pany wants to con­cen­trate on the hot ver­sion — which seems like a log­i­cal move, but time will tell.

Very Ital­ian in its style, the new Abarth 124 Spi­der is com­ing to Aus­tralia.

Pic­tures: Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

The sus­pen­sion of the Abarth 124 Spi­der has a dou­ble-wish­bone lay­out in front and a five-link set up in the rear.

The Abarth 124 Spi­der is equipped with so­phis­ti­cated elec­tronic aids.

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