JAY RAMEY

Fiat hints at Abarth version of 124 Spider

An Abarth version of the 2017 124 Spider has all but been officially confirmed, though just what engines will be available is still up in the air.
Jay Ramey is an associate editor with Autoweek, a sister publication of Automotive News.

A sportier version of the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider was a hot topic of conversation even before the car debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, and Fiat is not exactly hiding the fact that it is considering a more hardcore version of the reborn roadster.

Fabrizio Simoni, Abarth's head of marketing, indicated to Automotive News Europe that an Abarth 124 Spider was one of the two models that the in-house tuner is considering, in addition to a 500X baby SUV.

Currently, Abarth only offers the 500 hatch in manual and automatic flavors, with the latter having joined the stateside lineup in order to expand the sub-brand's appeal to slushbox aficionados.

So far, only one new Abarth model has been confirmed to join the lineup in 2016, and even though Fiat executives have not stated which one it'll be, a mockup of the Abarth version has already been shown to a select group of visitors at the L.A. Auto Show.

That's about as close as automotive executives get to grabbing a bullhorn and yelling, "Yes, we're going to make this car!"

Moreover, an Abarth version of the Spider has already been spotted testing, though what will power the souped-up roadster is still a matter of speculation. A version of the 1.4-liter four-cylinder found in the stock 124 Spider is certainly a candidate. Tuned to provide a modest boost over the stock 160 hp output in the U.S. model, the Abarth variant could end up pumping out close to to 200 hp. A refit of the 1.7-liter engine from the Alfa Romeo 4C has also been cited as a possibility.

At least a couple versions of the Abarth 124 Spider are said to be in the works aimed at different markets, including a range-topping variant with well over 200 hp that would make use of some WRC-inspired components.

An Abarth version of the 124 Spider is closely tied to the automaker's World Rally Championship hopes in a new category for rear-wheel-drive sports cars, a source told Automotive News Europe.

Abarth plans to boost its production by 50 percent this year alone and hopes to increase its dealership network, as well. The in-house tuner currently has approximately 300 sales points worldwide in the Fiat dealer network -- with the top markets being Italy and the U.K. -- but plans to expand that to 750 locations.

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