You can get one for less than the price of a new Corolla.
The 2020 Fiat 124 Abarth is not like most Italian sports cars. In fact, the car isn't even built in Italy. The 124 rolls off an assembly line in Japan alongside its platform-mate, the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Like the Miata, the 124 offers a two-seat topless driving experience for a reasonably affordable budget. The Miata has been in production since 1989, so there are plenty of used examples to choose from. Since the current 124 has only been in production since the 2017 model year, fewer are available. Still, prices have come down recently, and you can now get one at a great price.
The current ND generation Mazda Miata differs greatly in terms of style from its predecessors. Some people love it, but others feel it's too aggressive. So when FCA and Mazda announced a partnership to build another roadster on this platform, we knew it would have a totally different look. Although the two convertibles ride on the same platform and wheelbase, the 124 sits a full 5.5 inches longer. It looks completely different too. Fiat styled the car to harken back to the old 124 Sport Spider, which was in production from 1966 to 1985.
Not only does the 124 look completely different from the Miata, but it also has a different engine. While Mazda fans clamor for a turbocharged Miata, it already technically exists in the form of the Fiat. Though it produces less power than its Mazda counterpart, the turbocharged engine in the Fiat delivers more torque and tunability on the aftermarket.
A brand-new 124 Spider costs $25,390, which is slightly less expensive than a new Mazda MX-5 Miata. It is pricier if you want the Abarth model though, with that model starting at $29,390. Fortunately, used prices are much lower, with several Abarth examples available for just under $20,000. These cars don't even have particularly high mileage, with most having 40,000 or fewer miles on the odometers. We didn't find any for sale with a certified pre-owned warranty though, so it's worth noting that most of these cars are now past their factory coverage period.
Rather than use Mazda's SkyActiv engine, Fiat decided to use its 1.4-liter turbocharged MultiAir four-cylinder mill. This is the same engine previously used in the 500 Abarth, now driving the rear wheels rather than the front. In the standard 124 Spider, it produces 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque going out through a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
The Abarth model bumps the output to 164 hp, driving it up to 60 mph in just over six seconds and onto a top speed of 144 mph. Yes, the lighter and more powerful Miata is quicker, but because the Fiat comes with a turbo from the factory, you can more easily tune it to produce more power.
Fiat didn't go overboard changing Mazda's interior. All of the switchgear, including the climate controls, infotainment, steering wheel, air vents, and gauges are pretty much identical to what you'll find in the Miata. Fiat at least added a cool red tachometer with different font on the Abarth model as well as a new shifter and slightly different seats. If you want them, Fiat also offers the same bolstered Recaro seats that are available in the Miata Club.
Just because the 124 is longer than the Miata, don't expect to find any more space in the cabin. The interior is just as snug as the Miata, seating just two people. It does have a slightly larger trunk, but only just at 4.94 cubic feet (compared with 4.59 in the Miata).
We can see why the Fiat 124 hasn't been a smashing sales success. Convertible sports cars aren't a hot market right now, and the Mazda Miata has a much better reputation here in the United States. What's more, this car was originally meant to be an Alfa Romeo before it eventually became a Fiat, which didn't help. We couldn't justify spending over $30,000 on a new 124 Abarth when the current Miata is the superior car. But with used prices dipping below $20,000, a used model could be a smart buy.