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Future models - Abarth - 124 - Spider

Abarth 124 Spider on its way to Australia

Imminent arrival: The Abarth 124 Spider will land here before the end of the year and helps expand the Abarth line-up.

Hotter Abarth 124 Spider chosen for Australia in favour of the Fiat-badged version

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Abarth logo5 Apr 2016

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia has confirmed it will introduce the spicier Abarth version of its 124 Spider, leaving the Fiat-badged version off the local roster – for now.

The announcement confirms GoAuto’s report from December last year suggesting that Australia would only offer the more potent version.

FCA Australia has now revealed that the 124 Spider will arrive in dealerships in the fourth quarter of this year, almost 18 months after the vehicle upon which it is based – the Mazda MX-5 – went on sale.

Pricing and specification remain under wraps, but GoAuto understands that it will be offered in one trim level and that pricing will be revealed next month.

The company also confirmed today that the high-performance Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night edition will be offered in Australia in the first half of next year.

The Abarth 124 Spider is not expected to compete with entry-level versions of the Mazda MX-5 that start from $31,990 plus on-road costs.

GoAuto understands that one of the reasons FCA Australia is not offering the Fiat version at launch is that it would be positioned too closely with the Mazda.

FCA Australia director of marketing and product strategy Zac Loo said the Abarth-badged version was a perfect fit for the Australian market given the high take-up of performance-focused models.

“It’s sort of speaking to the performance bent of Australian consumers,” he said. “That’s what we are going to go after in the marketplace.

“From our perspective it speaks to exactly what you want in that type of product. It’s Abarth-tuned, Abarth-specific powertrain, and we think it will be an excellent expression of a roadster, which speaks to the heritage of the Abarth 124 nameplate.”

Uncovered at the Geneva motor show last month, the Abarth 124 Spider is powered by a 1.4-litre MultiAir turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivering 127kW of power – an 8kW increase over the Fiat version – and an unchanged torque figure of 250Nm.

In Australia it will be offered with the choice of either a six-speed short-throw manual gearbox or six-speed Sequenziale Sportivo automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

In Abarth guise, the 124 Spider can race from 0-100km/h in 6.8 seconds, 0.7s quicker than the Fiat, while the top speed extends from 215km/h to 232km/h.

Co-developed by the Abarth Racing Team, the 124 Spider weighs 1060kg, 10kg more than the Fiat, and features a perfect 50:50 weight distribution The Abarth gains stiffer anti-roll bars and Bilstein dampers that help sharpen the chassis, while chunky Brembo brake callipers at the front offer better pedal feel and more disc clamping force, according to the car-maker.

Further differentiating it from the more sedate Fiat-badged version, the Abarth has a matte-black bonnet and boot that helps reduce glare, while other exterior tweaks include a larger air intake in the front bumper, redesigned rear bumper, spoiler and unique 17-inch alloy wheels.

Racing Alcantara interior upholstery features in the cabin, while the 124 Spider has a number of Abarth scorpion badges inside and outside.

The specification level is unclear at this stage, but as well as the track-focused ESC, the Abarth is likely to feature some of the gear from the Fiat, such as a repurposed Fiat Connect 7.0 system – based on Mazda’s system – with a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, multimedia control, Bluetooth connectivity, heated seats, keyless entry and a nine-speaker Bose audio system with headrest speakers.

Further safety gear could include adaptive front headlamps, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection and a reversing camera.

The announcement follows FCA Australia’s recent expansion of the Abarth 500 range that now includes a more affordable 104kW 595 starting from $27,500 plus on-road costs.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night – revealed at last year’s Los Angeles motor show – will make its way Down Under in the second quarter of 2017.

Likely to be offered in strictly limited numbers, the Night does not bring any changes to the big SUV’s 6.4-litre V8 engine that pumps out 344kW and 624Nm, but it does add interior and exterior styling flourishes.

It includes a black roof and black five-spoke 20-inch wheels, with all traces of chrome and brightwork given a satin-black makeover.

Inside, the dark-coloured Laguna leather features silver contrast stitching and darkened instrument surrounds.

Pricing is unclear, but given it adds the extra kit that is currently optional, it is likely to carry a premium over the regular SRT that retails for $90,000 plus on-roads.

The SRT variant makes up 10 per cent of all Grand Cherokee sales in Australia.

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