Abarth 124 Spider axed

Say goodbye to the Abarth 124 Spider. The Mazda MX-5 in a stylish Italian suit (and with a spunky turbo four under the bonnet) has been discontinued.

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William Stopford
William Stopford
Journalist
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The funky Italian-Japanese hybrid that was the Abarth 124 Spider is no more.

Fiat Chrysler Australia today confirmed it has dropped the Mazda MX-5-based convertible.

While it’s still available in the USA and Japan, where it’s made alongside the MX-5, the Abarth and slightly less powerful Fiat 124 Spider were discontinued in Europe last year.

Introduced in Australia late in 2016, the 124 Spider came here only in more powerful Abarth guise.

Using Fiat’s MultiAir 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the 124 Spider had 103kW of power and 240Nm of torque as a Fiat and 125kW and 250Nm as an Abarth.

That contrasted with the two naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engines in the MX-5 stable, which produce 97kW/152Nm (1.5-litre) and 135kW/205Nm (2.0-litre).

Last year, Fiat Chrysler Australia sold 101 Abarth 124 Spiders, or less than a quarter the Mazda MX-5’s number.

Its best year was its first full year on sale, 2017, where FCA sold 375 – again, around a quarter the MX-5’s numbers that year.

The UK was the first market to drop the 124 Spider early last year, with FCA blaming its lack of profitability.

Fiat CEO Oliver Francois told Autocar later in the year that “such a car may not be key to the future of the brand” but maintained it was an “interesting opportunity” that remained profitable despite its transcontinental assembly line.

The 124 Spider’s MultiAir engine is manufactured in Europe and shipped to Japan to be fitted to the car, which receives unique front and rear styling but otherwise shares a great deal with the Mazda. The interior, for example, is largely the same as that of the MX-5.

It sold better in Europe, relatively speaking.

In 2018, FCA sold 7698 Fiat-badged versions and 2558 Abarth-badged versions. Meanwhile, Mazda shifted 13,703 MX-5s on the continent.

The cost of upgrading the 124 Spider’s engine to meet tougher European emissions standards evidently proved too high for FCA, especially considering the engine was at the end of its lifecycle and had few remaining applications.

Throw in a declining sports car market, already a niche one, and the car’s fate was sealed in Europe. Dealers stopped accepting orders late last year.

The company has yet to confirm when production will wrap up for remaining markets.

The Mazda-FCA tie-up was originally supposed to produce a drop-top for Alfa Romeo, until then-CEO Sergio Marchionne decreed all Alfa Romeos would be built in Italy.

That meant Fiat and Abarth picked up the project. The last Fiat drop-top was the MX-5-rivalling Barchetta (above), produced from 1995 to 2005, though Fiat has made plenty of small drop-tops over the years including the original 124 Sport Spider, produced from 1966 until 1985.

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William Stopford
William Stopford
William Stopford is a Journalist at CarExpert.
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