Do spiders and scorpions add sting to Fiat’s RWD roadster?

Fiat introduced the 124 Spider in 2015 at the Los Angeles Auto Show, framing it as an affordable, compact, lightweight two-door roadster. Built from the bones of the acclaimed fourth-generation (ND) Mazda MX-5, the Fiat 124 Spider stands out next to its Japanese cousin thanks to distinctive Italian exterior styling and a Fiat-sourced turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir inline four-cylinder engine. Although its only been on the market for a few years, Fiat has already offered a selection of special edition variants, and now, there’s a new one called the Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione, sporting new exterior flourishes, premium materials in the cabin, a few extra ponies, and an upgraded exhaust system.

Developed in conjunction with Squadra Corse Abarth (Abarth is Fiat’s racing and performance division, which designates its models with a red and yellow scorpion badge), Fiat is touting the new Scorpione special edition as a “a version designed for customers seeking the essence of unadulterated driving pleasure.”

Kicking it off, you’ll find the body panels are covered in a San Marino 1972 Black livery, complete with Forgiato Grey trim pieces. Alternatively, buyers can also get theirs in Turini 1975 White. Both hues are a nod to Abarth’s successful competition past.

Output from the turbo 1.4-liter powerplant is rated at a slightly higher 170 horsepower (standard spec is rated at 160 horses), while torque matches that of the original production machine at 185 pound-feet. Routing the output to the rear axle is a standard six-speed manual transmission, but an Esseesse Sporty Sequential automatic gearbox is offered as an available option.

There are a few more tricks up this thing’s sleeve, so read on for all the details before it drops cover at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show next week.

Continue reading to learn more about the Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione.

What Makes The Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione Special

2017 Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione High Resolution Exterior
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With the Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione laying down power numbers that are nearly identical to those of the regular roadster, straight-line performance goes more or less unaltered as well. That means you’re looking at a 0-to-60 mph sprint that’s concluded in 6.8 seconds, while top speed is topped out at 144 mph.

That said, if you do decide to dig into the long skinny pedal with sufficient gusto, you’ll be enjoying upped aural attitude thanks to a standard Record Monza exhaust system, which is an available option on the regular 124 Spider. Apparently, these pipes also get something called “Dual Mode” which will alter the manner in which the spent gasses are directed for “linear torque and power delivery,” plus a “satisfying, deep roar” out back.

2017 Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione High Resolution Exterior
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Dig into the long skinny pedal with sufficient gusto, and you’ll be enjoying upped aural attitude thanks to a standard Record Monza exhaust system.

As a complement to the 1.4-liter’s exhaust note, the 124 Spider Scorpione gets the Sound Plus Pack, which throws in a 7.0-inch touchscreen mounted high on the dash, plus a premium stereo from Bose with nine speakers, including a subwoofer.

Further cabin refinement is provided by a black microfiber and leather upholstery combo for the seats, which, it should be noted, offer well supported side bolsters, plus a heating function as standard (if you get the leather, that is). Behind the steering wheel, a sizable analogue tachometer is placed front and center, sporting a red background and white numbering, while additional gauges for speed on the right and temperatures on the left get black backgrounds. A keyless starter is also included.

Further options include the Visibility Plus Pack, which ups safety and convenience thanks to LEDs for the daytime running lights, a rain sensor, a dust sensor, some headlight washers, rear parking sensors, and LEDs for the headlights with an automatic self-leveling function.

2017 Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione High Resolution Interior
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Inside is a 7.0-inch touchscreen, a premium stereo from Bose with eight speakers and a sub, black microfiber and leather upholstery for the seats, plus a seat heating function.

The rest of the spec is as you’d expect, with all the normal bells and whistles. The drivetrain and engine are placed centrally in the chassis for a balanced weight distribution and nippier handling, including a mounting position for the 1.4-liter just behind the front axle. Curb weight is rated at 1,060 kg, or 2,337 pounds, which is pretty much on par with the standard version of the car. The power-to-weight ratio is set at 6.2 kg per horsepower.

Keeping the car shiny side up is a double-wishbone suspension set-up in front, while in back is a five-arm multilink set-up. Standard kit includes a self-locking rear differential for fun handling and more aggressive response in the bends. The power steering system was calibrated for a sportier feel, while the usual electronic nanny acronyms are all present, such as ABS, EBD, and ESC. Of course, you can turn these all off, if desired.

If the 124 Spider Scorpione isn’t doing it for you, Fiat will be bringing at least two examples of the roadster to Geneva this year. Joining the Scorpione will be a second display vehicle rocking a Turini 1975 White paint job, plus a hood offset in matte black, once again giving a nod to the Abarth 124 Rally from the brand’s history. Apparently, the dark hood paint was originally used to reduce sunlight from reflecting into the driver’s eyes.

2017 Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione High Resolution Exterior
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Curb weight is rated at 1,060 kg, or 2,337 pounds, which is pretty much on par with the standard version of the car.

This fun little roadster will also be offered in a variety of other tribute colors, each of which indicates past Abarth rally wins, such as a pastel Costa Brava 1972 Red, and several metallic hues like San Marino 1972 Black, Isola d’Elba 1974 Blue, and Portogallo 1974 Grey. Inside, the seats are upholstered in red and black leather, while Alcantara is used to cover the central tunnel and dash, once again to cut back on glare.

Fiat Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione specs

Engine type Turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir inline four-cylinder
Drivetrain layout Front-engine, RWD
Engine upgrades Record Monza exhaust with Dual Mode
Horsepower 170 HP
Torque 185 LB-FT
0-to-60 mph 6.8 seconds
Top speed 144 mph
Transmission Standard six-speed manual, available Esseesse Sporty Sequential automatic
Exterior San Marino 1972 Black, Forgiato Grey trim. Available Turini 1975 White
Interior Sound Plus Pack, microfiber and leather upholstery, heated seats
Safety and convenience Visibility Plus Pack
Curb weight 2,337 pounds

My Opinion

While there is certainly to shortage of superfluous special editions these days, Fiat gets a passing grade for this one. Rather than simply repainting the wheels black, adding new kick plates, and padding the MSRP by a few grand before calling it a day, the 124 Spider Scorpione actually takes the brand’s history and uses it for inspiration. Sure, the black paint isn’t spectacular, but it does look good and should serve as a reminder for enthusiasts who know about its rally history.

Not only that, but Abarth actually added to the car’s performance with a new exhaust. Sure, you can get the same pipes as an option for the regular 124, but it’s still a nice touch that I wish more makes would consider when building a performance-oriented special edition.

The bottom line is this thing isn’t the most amazing special edition ever, but it’s definitely worthy of the designation of being “special.”

Read our full review on the 2018 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth here.

Press Release

The new Abarth 124 spider is a fun, unconventional car destined to become an icon of driving pleasure and sure to excite everyone who gets behind the wheel. Developed with Squadra Corse Abarth it has the bold dynamics and driving joy of a true roadster. The mechanical standard self-locking differential demonstrates the technical excellence for superior road holding. This device is typically found in top-of-the-range sports cars and emphasises the personality of the new Abarth 124 spider. Weights are concentrated between the axles and the engine is installed behind the front axle to guarantee optimal agility and superior driving feel. Sophisticated mechanics and special materials have been used to contain the weight to just 1060 kilograms. This results in a weight-to-power ratio of 6.2 kg/HP, the best in its category. Furthermore, the optimal weight distribution guarantees sincere and exalting response.

2017 Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione High Resolution Exterior
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The public will be able to admire two examples on the stand. The first has pastel "Turini 1975 White" paintwork and a matt black bonnet that recalls the classic Abarth 124 Rally, on which this was adopted as a measure to prevent glare in the driver’s eyes. The other colours available in the range are pastel "Costa Brava 1972 Red" and the metallic "San Marino 1972 Black", "Isola d’Elba 1974 Blue" and "Portogallo 1974 Grey": these names are a homage to the prestigious Abarth rally wins. Interiors are characterised by red and black leather seats, while the dashboard and central tunnel are covered with Alcantara, a technical fabric used in the racing world to reduce reflections in the passenger compartment and increases the driver’s concentration on the task at hand.
The second car is an example of the new Scorpione special series, a version designed for customers seeking the essence of unadulterated driving pleasure. The car on display sports a "San Marino 1972 Black" livery with "Forgiato Grey" details. A "Turini 1975 White" version is also available.

The Scorpione maintains all the features of the 124 spider and is characterised by black microfibre and leather seats designed to maximise grip.
Under the bonnet of both models is a powerful, ultra-reliable 1.4 litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine with MultiAir technology. It delivers 170 HP (about 124 HP per litre) and 250 Nm of torque: it has a top speed of 232 km/h and goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds paired with a six-speed manual transmission. What is more, since the engine sound is a fundamental element of all Abarth cars, standard equipment includes Record Monza exhaust with Dual Mode system capable of modifying the path of the exhaust gas according to pressure, guaranteeing linear torque and power delivery and generating a satisfying, deep roar at the same time. In addition to the 6-speed manual transmission, the spider is also available with the Esseesse Sporty Sequential automatic transmission. The suspension on the Abarth 124 spider uses a double wishbone scheme at the front and a 5-arm multilink architecture at the rear. The set-up is calibrated specifically to increase stability on corners and enhance compression braking. Steering feedback is optimised by adopting a specific sports calibration of the power steering system.

2017 Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione High Resolution Exterior
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Furthermore, the new Abarth 124 spider is decked out with a host of state-of-the-art active and passive safety devices. In addition to ABS, standard equipment includes EBD, for adjusting front and rear axle brake force distribution to optimise braking distances and guarantee control in all load conditions of the car. Of course, also standard is ESC, for optimal control in all driving conditions, particularly the most critical, in presence of snow, ice or slippery roads. All these devices can be completely deactivated for driving on the race track allowing the driver to exploit the outstanding balancing and dynamic features of Abarth 124 spider to the fullest and enjoy an unadulterated and direct driving feeling.

2017 Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione High Resolution Exterior
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The Abarth DNA is confirmed on both models also on the inside with an overall focus aimed at guaranteeing perfect ergonomics. The seats, with leather and Alcantara upholstery and microfibre and leather on the Scorpione, are both supporting and very comfortable to hold the driver in the ideal position, as low and far back as possible to perceive all sideways movements of the car. Furthermore, the controls are perfectly in keeping with the sporty set-up of the car: the position of the pedal board, the vertical steering wheel and the short gear stick make for a fully enthralling driving experience. The dashboard features a large tachometer with red background arranged in central position facing the driver and a keyless start system.

Comfort is guaranteed by heated seats, standard on the version with leather seats, and the excellent soundproofing afforded by the noise deadening windscreen, rear window and double-layer soft top.

2017 Abarth 124 Spider Scorpione High Resolution Interior
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The latter is designed to be opened and closed with one hand from the driver’s seat in a few seconds. Once folded behind the seats it does not occupy space in the boot.
Both cars on show are equipped with the Sound Plus Pack, which includes radio 7" touchscreen and a sophisticated Bose audio system with subwoofer and eight speakers, two of which integrated in the head restraints for a perfect listening experience. there is also the Visibility Plus Pack, which features full LED automatic self-levelling headlights, LED daytime running lights, rain sensor, dust sensor, headlight washer and rear parking sensors.

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