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2017 Fiat 124 Spider Elaborazione Abarth is lacking its sting

  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
After seeing the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Elaborazione Abarth at the New York Auto Show, we're starting to understand the convertible is essentially Fiat's take on the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club trim. Thing is, the Abarth name is synonymous with big performance out of tiny engines, and that's exactly what the latest Fiat 124 Abarth gets in Europe. We want it here, too.

Despite the scorpion badge on the fender, this model makes the same 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet as the standard 124 Spider. By way of comparison, the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes 170 horsepower in Europe. Customers here can choose between a six-speed manual or automatic to route power to the rear wheels through a limited slip differential.

The Elaborazione Abarth isn't completely without improvements, though. The droptop gets a stiffer suspension with Bilstein shocks, and a Sport Mode button adds an extra edge when drivers want it. Brembo four-piston calipers are optional, and the US model keeps the European Abarth's retro touches like the black hood.

Unfortunately, Abarth's performance legacy holds the Elaborazione Abarth back, rather than helping it. The Mazda MX-5 Miata Club gets most of the same upgrades, including a limited-slip differential, Bilstein shocks, and optional Brembo brakes. However, the Miata's sporty trim is easy to accept because it's just part of the regular lineup; Mazda doesn't attach a brand name with racing history to the sharper model. In contrast, the scorpion badge on this 124 Spider makes the convertible hard to accept as a real Abarth.

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