2019 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth review: An Italian spin on a Japanese legend

    I spent a variety of time in Roadshow’s long-term Mazda MX-5 Miata, tackling day by day commutes, occurring street journeys and monitoring it on quite a few events. Minus its brake fade points when pushed actually onerous, I cherished the little roadster. With that stated, it appears pure that I’d be equally enamored of the 2019 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth. After all, this Italian two-seater is constructed upon the Miata’s wonderful platform. But with its personal exterior design, distinctive suspension tuning and turbocharged engine, would I prefer it sufficient to make me push the Miata apart? Japanese bones Unlike some visually indistinguishable platform-sharing cousins just like the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86, the Fiat 124 Spider is a good bit completely different from the Mazda Miata. It wears its personal sheetmetal, and is a full 5.5 inches longer than the Miata. Fiat says the 124’s styling inspiration is borrowed from the unique Italian roadster, bringing cues just like the inset headlights, grille, hood ripples and facet character traces to at present’s automotive. The performance-focused Abarth strikes a sportier pose with distinctive entrance and rear fascias, gunmetal accents and 17-inch wheels. Do I just like the look? I do not thoughts the extra mature look, however I do just like the Mazda’s extra aggressive traces higher total.

    Miata-Fiat variations roughly vanish when you step inside. With the exception of various gauges, door panels, small trim bits and badges, it is a Miata cabin within the 124 Spider. The Fiat, nonetheless, is quieter when rolling round city with the highest up due to an acoustic windshield, thicker rear glass and extra sound insulation for a extra enjoyable trip. The onboard know-how can also be borrowed from Mazda. Infotainment duties are dealt with through the Mazda Connect system that is known as Fiat Connect within the 124, with a responsive, 7-inch touchscreen. In my Abarth take a look at automotive it options onboard navigation, a nine-speaker Bose audio setup, satellite tv for pc radio and Bluetooth. Sadly, it would not have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. 

    A number of security tech goodies can be had within the 124 Spider. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors are packaged right into a $1,495 Comfort and Convenience Group that additionally contains an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated exterior mirrors and an alarm. 

    Sorry, you will not discover Apple CarPlay or Android Auto inside the 124.
    Nate Reed/Roadshow
    Italian coronary heart and mannerisms Where the 124 deviates so much from the Miata is within the engine compartment. Instead of Mazda’s naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I4 with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque, the 124 Spider makes use of Fiat’s 1.4-liter turbo I4, with 160 hp, 184 lb-ft and a gravelly exhaust be aware. Put it Sport mode and the turbo engine’s peak torque is on the market from 2,500 rpm and stays robust by means of the excessive 5,000s earlier than truly fizzling out.  The midrange grunt is stellar to have at your disposal round a racetrack
    like GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan. Down the lengthy again straight, triple-digit speeds are simply achieved, and carrying head of steam out of corners is well completed. Throttle response is not as full of life as with the Miata’s naturally aspirated engine, however the Fiat’s setup is ok for rev-matching when downshifting the six-speed handbook transmission.  With the 124’s engine at all times wound up on monitor, its turbo lag points get masked. Unfortunately, on the road, in stop-and-go conditions, it is on full show. Not a lot occurs when rolling away from stops as enhance builds, and then you definitely all of the sudden get a wallop of thrust. The 124 Spider is at the least decently environment friendly, although, returning an EPA-estimated 26 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 35 mpg on the freeway. On my non-racetrack tanks of gasoline, I averaged 30.5 mpg. 
    The Abarth’s trip and dealing with on the road are one other robust swimsuit. There’s some give tuned into the Bilstein shocks and uprated springs. Impacts from larger street imperfections are felt, however not uncomfortable within the slightest, making the 124 effectively fitted to regular commutes and weekend street journeys. When blitzing my favourite winding backroad with some gusto, the Fiat is responsive, however not fairly as responsive as a Miata.

    The 124’s barely muted reflexes are extra obvious round GingerMan Raceway. At nook turn-in, it takes a second for the skin tire to load up and monitor by means of. Through the high-speed transition between turns eight and 9, weight switch is extra pronounced earlier than the physique takes a set, and the 17-inch Bridgestone Potenza RE-050A tires dig into the pavement. (It’s value noting that the Fiat 124 Spider weighs about 138 kilos greater than an equal Miata.) Make no mistake, the Fiat is not a foul efficiency automotive, however its persona is rather less hyperactive than the Mazda. It’s positively nonetheless a handler, with a balanced chassis which you can have a variety of enjoyable with on a street, and monitor hanging on tight round turns or sideways in a managed method with the turbo thrust. Unlike within the Mazda, the Brembo brakes oddly suffered a lot much less brake fade when beat on, which is a plus.   The Abarth’s Brembo brakes deal with monitor work remarkably effectively.
    Nate Reed/Roadshow
    How I’d spec it Performance is the primary focus when constructing my 124 Spider Abarth, a roadster that begins at $29,290, not together with $1,495 for vacation spot. From there I’ll equip the $1,495 Brembo brakes, $995 Record Monza Exhaust for the growling soundtrack and $1,195 Recaro seats to maintain me locked down throughout onerous driving. The one non-performance-related possibility I’ll take is the $1,495 Comfort and Convenience Group, largely to get blind-spot monitoring.

    The choices spending spree brings the value tag of my Spider to $35,965. That’s solely a contact extra inexpensive than the $37,655 instance pictured right here, however extra efficiency often would not come low cost. Yes, you need the optionally available Record Monza Exhaust system.
    Nate Reed/Roadshow
    A extra mature Miata With a confirmed basis from the MX-5, it is darn close to unimaginable to not just like the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth. I do not thoughts its wrapper, softer suspension tuning or turbocharged engine — all of those give the Fiat a definite and tamer persona. But would I select it over a Miata? In quick, no. Good because the 124 Spider is, the Mazda Miata’s snappier reflexes, extra linear energy supply and meaner look make it the one for me.

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