Beauty With a Touch of Beast: The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth
The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth.
Back in January, I wrote about the Fiat 124 Spider Lusso, saying that, as a beauty addict, I found it in many ways more desirable than the current-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata on which it is based and which ain't no slouch (the Miata ranks a solid #3 on the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right-hand side of this page). 

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth
2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth.
Comes now the 2017  Fiat 124 Spider Abarth.  Same 1.4-liter Multi-Air Turbo engine making the same 160 horsepower it makes in the Lusso, but exhaling through a special performance-tuned exhaust system that gives the Abarth a raspy snarl you won't hear in the other Spiders. The EPA fuel economy estimate is 26 city/35 highway, which is one higher than the Lusso's city estimate and one lower than the Lusso's highway number.

Beyond that, the differences are in looks and suspension.  The Abarth gets dark gun metallic trim and 17-inch gun metallic aluminum wheels.  Were you to equip your Abarth with an automatic transmission (what's the Italian word for sacrilege?), you'd get paddle shifters.  Our tester came as God intended...with a six-speed manual.

Where the Abarth brings it is in a Bilstein performance suspension with a front strut tower brace, Bilstein shocks, stiffer front and rear springs and a rear stabilizer bar.  In an afternoon on the winding back roads from TireKicker World Headquarters in Folsom, California through the Sierra foothills and back, the car was an absolute marvel to drive. 

Interior view of 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth
2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth interior.
$28,195 gets you all the above, as well as a sport mode selector, cruise control, remote proximity keyless entry, a rear back-up camera, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, tire pressure monitoring, and the Abarth Track Experience, which gives you free access to a day's worth of track time.

There's also a perfectly adequate four-speaker audio system, automatic climate control, heated front seats, automatic headlamps, front fog lamps, power mirrors, LED taillamps, a quad exhaust with bright tips and a tire service kit.

Our tester came with one option package and one stand-alone option.  The package was the Luxury Collection with SiriusXM satellite radio.  It includes sport leather seats, an upgraded 9-speaker plus subwoofer Bose audio system, blind spot and cross-path detection, rear park assist, GPS navigation, LED adaptive headlamps, which are automatic-leveling units with washers, heated exterior mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a universal garage door opener ($3,995).  The stand-alone was a set of four red Brembo performance brakes ($1,495). 

With $995 destination charge, the bottom line came to $34,680....a shade more than a thousand dollars higher than the Lusso we drove earlier in the year.   The choice comes down to your personality and driving style.