Australian buyers with their hearts set on the charming Fiat 124 Spider might be disappointed to learn that the standard car won’t be given an Australian berth.
The news isn’t all bad however, with the hotter Abarth 124 Spider set to take its place. So, how do the two compare?
European and US buyers will be offered a choice of three Fiat roadster specifications, plus one Abarth, with the standard car powered by a turbocharged 1.4 litre four-cylinder engine capable of 103kW and 240Nm of torque.
Those figures propel the Fiat 124 from 0-100 km/h in 7.5 seconds.
For the hotter Abarth variant, engine outputs jump to 127kW and 250Nm, dropping the 0-100 km/h time to 6.8 seconds - sure to be a better fit for the performance-hungry Australian market.
Transmission choices are set to include a six-speed manual, or six-speed Esseesse Sport Sequential automatic. The driven rear wheels are also fed via a self-locking differential, compared to the open differential of the non-Abarth cars.
To keep up the sporting flavour, the 124 Abarth is set to include a range of features not seen in the standard Fiat version, including specific calibration of the double wishbone suspension and power steering.
A sport mode button can also be found on the shift lever surround of both manual and automatic 124 Abarths, allowing access to a remapped steering and throttle program for a more agile feel.
A sports exhaust is fitted as standard, but Australian buyers will also be offered an optional Record Monza bimodal exhaust, able to allow more of the Abarth’s sporting soundtrack to be heard at the touch of a button.
The interior also gets a range of upgrades, with a range of different finishes and colours used throughout, plus a bespoke instrument cluster finish.
On the outside, the 124 Abarth ramps up the visual aggression thanks to its unmissable blackout treatment across the front bumper, bonnet, and boot lid, along with larger front air-intakes and a quad-tipped exhaust set into a unique valance at the rear.
Of course, the 124 range is based off the chassis of the Mazda MX-5, but the mechanical changes give the turbocharged Fiat’s a point of difference to Mazda’s aspirated MX-5 range, not to mention the huge styling departure, visible below. We've compared the Fiat and Mazda before, here.
A full list of Australian specifications will be released closer to the 124 Abarth’s launch in the fourth quarter of 2016, but, in the lead-up to the new model’s introduction, buyers can register their interest at a dedicated pre-launch website.
Pricing is also yet to be confirmed, but a mid-$40k price point is expected, with official confirmation closer to the car’s Australian debut.
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