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by Tim Beissmann

Abarth will build a hardcore version of the upcoming Fiat 124 Spider to give the Italian half of the partnership a distinct performance advantage over Japanese sister car, the Mazda MX-5.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief operating officer Alfredo Altavilla told Auto Express there would be two versions of the new roadster: the “comfortable” Fiat 124 Spider and the “extreme” Abarth model.

“You like performance? There will be an Abarth version,” Altavilla confirmed.

The British publication believes the open-top Abarth could be powered by a detuned version of the turbocharged 1.75-litre four-cylinder petrol engine found in the Alfa Romeo 4C producing roughly 150kW. It’s believed the 124 will get a smaller 1.4-litre turbo shared with other Fiat Chrysler models.

The fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 will be offered with 96kW/150Nm 1.5-litre and 116kW/200Nm 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engines.

Mazda MX-5 program manager Nobuhiro Yamamoto recently ruled out a turbocharged version of the new model, meaning the Abarth will be in a performance league of its own.

“There is no chance of a turbo version of the Mazda MX-5 – never, never, never,” Yamamoto said.

“We won’t do a turbo for the very simple reason: power is not important for the MX-5. What is important is the handling, agility and the feedback.”

It’s unclear exactly when Abarth’s performance roadster will hit the road at this stage. Reports circulating in April suggested the Fiat 124 Spider was on track to be unveiled towards the end of this year before going on sale around the world in 2016. Attention will then shift to the Abarth version.

The fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 goes on sale in Australia next month priced from $31,990 plus on-road costs.




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