Fiat 124 Spider future in doubt – report

The 124 Spider has been withdrawn from the European market, potentially spelling the end of the retro-styled roadster that fused Japanese and Italian engineering.
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In a move that doesn’t bode well for the future of the Fiat 124 Spider, the Mazda MX-5-based drop-top has been dropped from Fiat’s European range.

That includes its sportier Abarth 124 Spider counterpart, the only 124 variant offered here.

What distinguished the car the most from its Mazda MX-5 twin – the 1.4-litre MultiAir turbocharged four-cylinder engine – is what appears to have done the 124 in.

Motori reports the cost of upgrading the engine to meet Euro 6d emissions regulations proved prohibitively expensive, particularly considering the diminishing number of vehicles using it.

Though Mazda sells between four and five times as many MX-5s in Australia as Fiat Chrysler (FCA) does Abarth 124s, the tallies have been much closer in Europe. In 2018, FCA sold just under 8000 124 Spiders there under the Fiat and Abarth marques, while Mazda shifted 13,703 MX-5s.

The 124 Spider was discontinued earlier this year in the UK with the company citing the lack of profitability selling the car there.

A spokesperson has told Car & Driver production of the 124 Spider continues for North America. Regardless, FCA has already made it clear the 124 isn’t a linchpin for the Fiat line-up.

In comments earlier this year, Fiat CEO Oliver Francois said “such a car may not be key to the future of the brand”. Plans for Fiat also indicate the brand will have “no big cars, no premium cars, no sporty cars”, though these comments don’t explicitly rule out the 124 continuing under the Abarth marque.

Fiat manufactures the MultiAir turbo four in Europe and ships it to Japan where the rest of the car is built. Despite this transcontinental assembly line, Francois says the 124 Spider is still a “profitable business” for FCA.

FCA offered no comment on the car's future in Australia.