Stunning new Fiat from Abarth at Geneva this year — proving the in-house tuner is still a big asset in the brand’s expansion worldwide.
The Mirafiori speed demons have wasted no time upgrading the design, performance and panache of the adorable baby Fiat: the new 124 Spider.
From its cute looks emerges yet another harsh, focused look at what Abarth does best. The scorpion logo makes sense the first time you fire up one of their specials: pops and brummy exhaust and engine notes that recall Maserati much more than Mazda.
Then you turn to see… and are shocked that those sounds are coming from a tiny Italian city car!
We expect even better results here. Where the Abarth 500 might not have earned a second look, this Abarth 124 is easily the most intense, most aggressive and coolest among the MX-5, 124 and upcoming 124 Rally racecar. Contrast color details in red set off the dark and moody makeover fantastically on first sight.
The core 124 style continues in the Abarth version, but promises much more seriousness in corners and on full throttle. Most of the body-colored elements like the lower bumpers of the Fiat are now anti-reflective matte black or a chic grey, in the case of the wheels and windshield header. Extra ventwork and Abarth’s trademark intake/exhaust sonics round out the sights and sounds.
The Abarth 124 is production-ready as seen in Geneva, and is heading on sale this summer in the EMEA region with a 1.4-liter turbo four from Fiat’s MultiAir family. The motor is juiced up to 170-horsepower, which might not sound like much, but will be enough for about a 6.5-second sprint to 60-mph. Quad pipes in back? Check!
Abarth does not detail when or if this car will come to the USA, but we believe it is almost a sure thing. It is likely to benefit from more power than the Euro version, but still is unconfirmed as of now. We’d wager on a detuned version of the 1.8T making 300HP in the Abarth 124 Rally prototype (below, in yellow).
2017 Abarth 124 Spider
2017 Fiat 124 Spider
In case the hot new Abarth Fiat 124 Spider were not enough to get your heart revving, Abarth Racing has brought along an even hotter version!
A rear-drive rally racecar that started life as a ragtop!? Sounds like a winner to us. And it definitely looks like a winner too.
A slightly raised ride height, boosted engine putting down 300Hp, plus a locking rear differential promise exciting, tail-out action to rally fans next year. Custom fender extensions, sill extensions and brake air vents behind the back axle speak to this car’s gravel-slinging dreams. As does its gigantic, fire-spitting single exhaust.
And this time, no parking brake needed to hook a car’s tail around tight corners. The Abarth 124 Rally is also our first look at what a hardtop variant might look like — for the Fiat 124 and its Miata sibling. This bespoke hardtop has an extra wide rear window for visibility… when past 100-degrees sideways?
An air intake/outlet will keep drivers cool while the 1.8-liter, Abarth-exclusive engine zings up the mountain roads of Monte Carlo and beyond.
This Abarth 124 Rally is not just a concept, either. It is a blueprint for next year’s return of the Abarth brand to the world’s rally stages for the first time since 1976. We’re not completely sure what series in which the cars will compete, but it looks like customer racecars will be available for sale to other race teams. It is likely to be a mean rival to the Gazoo Racing (formerly Toyota Motorsport GmbH) GT86 rally racer.
It also shows how deeply the Abarth crew has gotten in the Fiat 124 program. Their upgrades are almost as impressive without the rally upgrades….. watch for the next article to see what a mean stinger they’ve made from the MX-5 donor platform…
2016 Abarth 124 Rally Prototype
The New Abarth 124 rally
- The world première in Geneva for the prototype developed by the Abarth Racing Team.
- Under the bonnet a powerful 1800 direct injection turbo engine delivering 300 HP.
- Rear-wheel drive with self-locking differential for second to none performance.
- Refined technical solutions to make the new Abarth protagonist of the rally.
- Dedicated to all those who together with the brand share the racing world’s values.
“Left 4 cut, 30 caution jump, right 5 left 3 close, 100, right 2 don’t cut…”
This is the route to challenge yourself, to beat the laws of physics, to write a story made of courage and passion….
Along with the Abarth 124 spider, the first prototype of the 124 rally also has a surprise début. For the first time, the road car and the racing car have been developed and unveiled together.
- The new Abarth 124 rally is a combination of pure technology and performance born from the experience of the Abarth Racing Team to bring back the Scorpion to the most glorious and demanding rally tracks, from the sticky sunburnt tarmac to the more slippery ice surfaces.
- Forty years after its last official race, the 1976 Monte Carlo Rally, the Abarth 124 Rally is back with the same mission: to test road cars’ technical solutions under extreme conditions and to guarantee all Abarth customers excellent performance and maximum reliability.
- It is dedicated to all those who share the brand’s sense of challenge and racing world values.
Under the bonnet, it fits the 1800 cm3 “bialbero” turbocharged direct injection engine. Thanks to the different selectable mappings, it provides power up to 300 HP at 6500 rpm and optimum torque curve, a key element to allow the driver steering and acceleration balance while oversteering. Performance is breath-taking; acceleration is scorching and marked with full, riveting sound.
The project was developed to ensure reliability and performance, even in the extreme conditions typical of rallies: ice, dirt, dust, water, heat.
Even the transmission was designed to enhance performance: the engine is coupled to a quick 6-speed sequential gearbox with shift paddles and traction is assured by the mechanical limited slip differential.
Racing, for Abarth, is not only adrenaline, but also testing grounds to experiment with solutions that guarantee performance and excitement. To enhance the 124 rally’s competitiveness, the Abarth Racing Team’s engineers have worked with precise objectives: first of all, weight reduction and overall balance. For this reason, the engine is mounted behind the front axle; for the cockpit and the engine compartment, light, resistant materials were used, while the soft top was replaced by a fixed composite hard top. With these features, weight distribution leans slightly towards the rear axle, ensuring maximum traction even in low grip conditions. The centre of gravity was further lowered as compared to the road car to the advantage of road grip and straightforward performance.
The new Abarth 124 spider was born light and agile, and the rally edition was further refined to star in competitions. Homologation in the FIA R-GT category has required structural reinforcements to guarantee even greater stress resistance and the highest safety standards for the crew, and the body now has a safety roll cage. The whole design has been engineered for maximum efficiency and ergonomics, to ensure driver and co-driver not only superior performance, but also attention to every minute detail, such as the arrangement of interior controls and available space in the cockpit.
Rally cars undergo extreme stress; this is why the superb mechanical layout of the standard production car has been further developed: the high front-end double wishbone suspension and multi-link rear suspension have specific kinematic features with metal joints for maximum steering precision, ample control on corners, greater excursion for handling different road surfaces and adjustable dampers settings guarantee always superior grip in every situation.
In conclusion the project code, SE139, has a great deal of history that goes back directly to Karl Abarth. The SE stands for “Sports” and “Esperimental”, a direct link to the Abarth values of craftsmanship and Technical Upgrade. While the 139 progressive number exemplifies that in 67 years of history, Abarth has managed to develop an average of two racing projects per year. A great accomplishment that only a few other car manufactures can be proud of.
A great team to bring back Abarth on the rally stage
Team Abarth has worked very hard to select best in class technical partners and sponsors.
Among these, Petronas Selenia that has always been at the forefront in developing technologically advanced and high performance lubricants and it has contributed in the engine development. While Adler Pelzer Group was greatly involved in making crafting composite components for the car and Michelin is the technical partner for tires development.
The Abarth 124 rally project is also a great showcase for a number of Italian companies which have been involved in racing for many years. As is the case for Sabelt, one of the most well-known brand in motorsport, which contributes with its bucket-seats, seatbelts and other safety equipment, and also for Kappa, the leading sportswear brand worn by the entire “Abarth Squadra Corse”. For what concerns the mechanics of the car, LM Gianetti, a company born some 40 years ago and witnessed the development of the first Abarth 124 Rally, has closely worked with Abarth’s Technical Team to reengineer completely the bodywork and the suspensions scheme. Whilst, EXT SHOX has contributed with its specific know-how in the development of 4-way adjustable dampers used for the first time in a Rally car.
BMC has supported the team in developing the air-intake system of the car, which it is crucial to allow constant and reliable engine performance. The lightweight, but at the same time robust racing wheels, have been developed and crafted by OZ, the legend in motorsport.
In conclusion, as for the road-going model, Alcantara® has completely revamped the interior of the car starting from the dashboard to the seats trimming, with 100% “Made in Italy” technology contributing to saving weight and reduce sun reflections towards the interior of the car, allowing no interferences for the driver enhancing the driver grip on the steering wheel.
The team has worked with great passion to revamp a rally icon as the Abarth 124 rally, a rear wheel drive transmission is synonym of great fun for the drivers, but also for the public. Surely, people will queue up to see pass by the new 124 Abarth rally and see it powerslide, which have become very rare today.
The new 124 rally developed with the best of technology available today, contributes to bring back sweet memories from the past of rallying in the 70’s were competitions were more engaging and gathering massive crowds.
After the Geneva MotorShow unveiling, Abarth opens the pre-booking phase to prepare your début in the 2017 rally season.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.