NEW YORK — The domestic automotive media are already searching for the lost 10 horsepower of Abarth’s U.S. version of the Fiata Spiata. You might know it as the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Elaborazione Abarth.
“U.S. regulations prohibit the 1.4-liter Multiair turbo’s 10 horsepower bump from the European specifications car,” Fiat Brand North America director Bob Broderdorf explains.
If that’s not explicit enough, think of it this way: You know that Volkswagen had trouble meeting U.S., and not European diesel emissions standards, so it’s not a stretch that gasoline emissions regulations make it easier for the Multiair to get by with that 10-horsepower bump overseas than in our home market. Otherwise, everything we know about the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Elaborazione Abarth indicates it’s the version enthusiasts will want.
Handling. Elaborazione Abarth adds stiffer springs, Bilstein shocks and a limited-slip differential, Broderdorf says. And we think this is a first for the Mazda Miata platform it rides on – the Elaborazione Abarth will have two-mode adjustable dynamics, a feature that seems antithetical to the architecture’s purity and simplicity. Though we haven’t driven any Fiata, yet, we figure the standard 124 Spider will be a bit softer than the Miata, while the Abarth will be firm as, or firmer than the Miata Club Sport.
Exhaust Note. The Abarth also features quad exhaust tips. The 1.4 Multiair is the same engine as in the Fiat 500 Abarth, so we can expect the 124 Elaborazione Abarth should compete with that car for best-sounding four-banger in the business, and definitely in this price range. As noted above, the 124 Abarth’s engine, like the standard Fiata’s, makes 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque.
Styling. The 124 Abarth ditches the standard 124’s chrome brightwork for gunmetal trim, including 17-inch wheels and new rocker panel valances. The “black stripes” – actually, flat black hood and rear deck – are hand-painted when the car reaches the U.S. port. They’re also optional, as are the Brembo brakes with red calipers, and the suede Recaro seats. Color choices are the same for the standard 124 and the Abarth.
Transmissions. The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Elaborazione Abarth will be available with the six-speed manual or (argh) six-speed automatic transmission. There will be three other trim levels available in North America; the Classica, Lusso and Prima (124 copies of the launch model). The Lusso originally was to be automatic-only. Broderdorf says he’s fixed that to include the manual option, ahead of launch.
Pricing. Too early to say, of course. The Classica, Lusso and Prima are set to arrive in U.S. dealers in the second quarter of this year, and the Elaborazione Abarth comes in the third quarter. “You will be pleasantly surprised by the price,” Broderdorf says. We figure pricing will be about on top of the ND Mazda MX-5 or slightly higher (though the Prima will come only fully equipped, and probably well into the $30s), so the Abarth will be about the same price as the Miata Club Sport., while the Lusso will be the more expensive trim level, equal to, or higher priced than the Miata Grand Touring.