Fiat's MX-5

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Oz might get one with an Alfa 4C donk!

THE FIAT 124 Spider, the Mazda MX-5's Italian twin, has been unveiled at the LA Auto Show. Although the 124 is likewise Japanese-built, its 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is Italian made, producing 250Nm at 2500rpm and 119kW at 5500rpm on its way to a 6250rpm cut-out.

The MultiAir unit (from the 500 Abarth) debuts in a rear-drive application and pairs with a Mazda six-speed manual or torque converter automatic, not a Fiat/Alfa dual-clutch.

The 1105kg 124 Spider (manual) has stacked on 72kg over the 2.0-litre MX-5, but it also boasts 1kW/50Nm extra grunt.

The 124 Spider Classica uses the same 16-inch Yokohama Advan tyres found on the MX-5 (along with cloth trim, body colour A-pillar and halogens), while the 124 Spider Lusso upgrades to 17-inch Bridgestone Potenza rubber and adds leather seats and dash trim, and extra chrome including on the pillars. Both get ‘sports’ suspension.

The Fiat adds a character crease over the door handles from the rear flanks, while the nose is higher, the rear haunches bulkier, the frontend styling an, erm, matter of taste.

The only changes inside are interior handles, added door grabs and font for the gauges.

Australia may not score this standard 124 Spider, however. Fiat locally is awaiting the Abarth version, which will likely get a 177kW 1.7-litre turbo lifted from the 4C.

“It is going to be a true Abarth,” promises Fiat Australia product manager Aitezaz Khan. “Unique in character … look at the current [Abarth] and pick some features around the product.”

Whatever the badge, the 124 Spider is technically the first turbo MX-5 since the 1.8-litre engines in the 2002 SP (157kW/289Nm) and 2005 SE (121kW/206Nm), and an Abarth 124 may eclipse them both.