Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia (FCA) has confirmed it will bring only the Abarth 124 Spider flagship roadster to our market, leaving the regular Fiat model off the local schedule.
Unveiled at March’s Geneva motor show, the top-shelf Abarth-enhanced version of the new 124 Spider, itself based on Mazda’s new MX-5, is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 127kW of power and 250Nm of torque.
In its regular European-market form, the Fiat 124 Spider’s turbo 1.4-litre mill delivers only 104kW and 240Nm, while the version that will head to the US gets a 119kW/250Nm tune.
FCA Australia marketing and product manager, Zac Loo, told CarAdvice today that the decision to focus on the top-shelf option centred on the view that the Abarth 124 Spider “is a performance car, so it fits best with the performance brand”.
The decision will also save FCA Australia from the issue of pricing the regular Fiat 124 Spider against its platform mate, the Mazda MX-5.
Sourced directly from nearby Japan, the MX-5 is priced in Australia from a sharp $31,990 for the entry 1.5-litre model. By comparison, both versions of the 124 Spider are shipped from basic production in Japan to Italy for finishing, meaning that competitive pricing against the MX-5 could have proven an insurmountable challenge.
In focusing on the Abarth model, FCA Australia secures a clear point of difference between the its own offering and the less powerful Mazda MX-5 models - although it may still need to pitch close to the $41,550 starting price of the higher-spec 2.0-litre MX-5.
Confirmation of an Abarth-only approach follows word last year that FCA Australia had been tossing up between offering both models or the top-shelf variant exclusively.
“We’ll look at it and see where we can provide the best sports car. That’s most likely going to be an Abarth, but nothing’s set in stone,” Loo told CarAdvice in September last year.
“MX-5 has a really strong core that it’s building on, and we wouldn’t look to go after the same space,” he added.
MORE: Fiat 124 Spider revealed