Do you smell that? That’s the scent of blood in the air, and Fiat knows how to strike once it gets wind of it. Since there aren’t a lot of miniature roadsters out there to attack in the first place, the revealing of an Abarth version of the sharp little 124 Spider has one-upped virtually everyone in one swift stroke.
Tuned by Fiat’s performance division, this amped-up model made its debut at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. While it still rocks the same 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder as its base counterpart (and unassumingly churning out 184 pound-feet of torque), the Abarth offers 10 more horsepower (up to 170 now) and a boatload of extras in all other departments.
While European buyers can still opt for either a plucky six-speed manual or a paddle shifting automatic gearbox, the real upgrades reside in the bolt-ons. Equipped with a standard set of Brembo big brakes, tightly re-valved Bilstein dampers, and a free-flowing Record Monza quad exhaust, this kit has a unique “Stage 1” feel to it that could warrant some very interesting performance results.
Outside of its suspension upgrades, handling is improved via an electronically assisted steering system and stiffer sway bars, and since the limited-slip differential is supposedly mechanical in nature, drivers can expect a classic performance feel. There’s also a Sport button in this model for more speedy gear shifts, and electronic controls can be manually switched off for those of us who want to really “feel” the car.
On the inside, everything is almost entirely stitched leather and Alcantara in nature, and while the steering wheel and shift lever are noticeably smaller, it’s little touches like the aluminum pedals, large red rev counter, and the performance gauge pods that seal the deal for us.
But for some buyers a “Stage 1” kit just isn’t going to cut the prosciutto. Both Fiat and Abarth recognized this well in advance: The solution they came up with is the race version seen here as an homage to the rally days of old.
Badged as the Abarth 124 Rally, this hardcore serving of Italian motoring has been built from the ground up to adhere to FIA R-GT regulations, and rocks a turbocharged 1.8-liter motor that has been mounted further back for better weight distribution. Reportedly churning out a healthy 300 horsepower and an unknown amount of torque, it features a vented hardtop, complete roll cage, and a laundry list of upgrades that make it truly rally ready. The only question now is: Will we ever be able to get either of these impressive little roadsters over here in America?