Originally, all Abarth 124 Spiders were destined to leave the Mazda factory in Hiroshima, Japan (the 124 is based on the Mazda MX-5) and head to Turin, Italy for final tuning and modifications, before then being sent all the way back to Australia.
However, the new boss of Fiat Chrysler Australia managed to convince the Italians that it makes more sense to send the car directly to Australia and have the final adjustments made locally, thus saving thousands in freight cost.
FCA Australia CEO, Steve Zanlunghi, who has been in the job for less than two months, says he is focused on bringing the most competitive product to market with respect to the brands, with the Abarth pricing being his first achievement.
“The Abarth was supposed to go from Japan to Turin to be, I guess, up-fitted with certain things, and we were able to get the certification and do it in Australia. Right there, it saved thousands in freight costs.”
If you're wondering, though, the extent of the works carried out in Australia - you can keep wondering. Although Zanlunghi was happy to highlight the Australian angle, he would not be moved to reveal whether the tweaks are purely cosmetic, or a more extensive Fiat 124 to Abarth 124 transformation.
And, while not mentioning the original price of the 124, we believe it would have been at least $1500 to $2000 more than its current market position, giving it a disadvantage against the MX-5, where now it is on a relatively equal footing.
Zanlunghi hinted that his time in Europe and the UK, and his contacts there, will help him better negotiate pricing for FCA products going forward.
The Turin plant is the only place that can do the black bonnet colour scheme for now, which was one of the reasons the two-seater sports cars were being sent there in the first place, but Zanlunghi said that might change in the near future with FCA’s facility in Port Melbourne already taking care of most of the cosmetic changes required.
The Abarth 124 is powered by a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with 125kW of power and 250Nm of torque, it will do 0-100km/h in 6.8 seconds. Expect a full review on CarAdvice Friday next week.