Spi­der’s Ital­ian touch

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - CRUISE CONTROL -

FIAT has re­vealed more de­tails of its Mazda MX-5-based road­ster.

The new Abarth 124 Spi­der is a dif­fer­ent look­ing car on the out­side, but all the hard body points are iden­ti­cal and the in­te­rior is pretty much MX-5 right down to the cen­tral con­trol screen and dash.

Abarth, which is Fiat’s per­for­mance arm, puts its own me­chan­i­cal lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial un­der the 124 and shoe­horns a 1.4-litre turbo into the en­gine bay.

The end re­sult is that the 124 has com­fort­ably more oomph than the MX-5: 125kW/250Nm com­pared to 118kW/200Nm in the MX-5 2.0 litre.

The Abarth ex­hales through quad ex­haust tips with a loud Monza ex­haust sys­tem op­tion­ally avail­able. Fiat has a cheaper vari­ant of the 124 but that won’t come here be­cause the com­pany wants to avoid com­pet­ing on price with Mazda.

The Abarth ver­sion is ex­pected to be priced about $40,000 plus on-roads, about the same as the top-of-the-range MX-5 GT 2.0.

Aside from the dif­fer­ent en­gine and dif­fer­en­tial, the Abarth has Bil­stein dampers, stiffer sway bars and Brembo four-pis­ton front brakes.

It rolls on ul­tra-low pro­file 17inch rub­ber and comes with a six-speed man­ual or con­ven­tional six-speed auto with pad­dle shift. It also has a sport mode and switch­able sta­bil­ity con­trol for track driv­ing.

The ex­tra equip­ment means added weight – about 50 kilo­grams more than the 2.0litre MX-5 – but the ex­tra bal­last doesn’t slow it down much.

Abarth says it clocks a 0100km/h sprint in the mid 6.0 sec­ond bracket, com­pared with a claimed 7.3 sec­onds for the MX-5. It is thirstier, though, con­sum­ing 7.5-litres/100km com­pared to 6.9L/100km for the 2.0-litre MX-5.

The sharper-edged styling gives the 124 a strong street pres­ence and it looks a big­ger car thanks to the flat-top rear and front guards and large flat bon­net.

In­side, the 124 fur­ther dif­fer­en­ti­ates it­self from the stan­dard Fiat with leather/ mi­crofi­bre sports seats, Bose au­dio, cli­mate con­trol air­con, a re­verse cam­era, push-but­ton start and tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing.

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