The Fiat 124 is an interesting roadster. It underscores that synergy, that Fiat Chrysler Automotive CEO Sergio Marchionne says is badly needed in the industry. Take a Mazda MX-5 Miata, and make it better.
And it is, better. The Fiat 124 is stunning to look at. It is by far the best-designed car that Fiat has built under its own brand. Perhaps it was all the Chrysler engineers that likely contributed those Mopar-esque angular taillights, and other fun stuff that demonstrates non-Fiat DNA playing its part.
But the big problem is that Fiat underpowered this car. Instead of using the Alfa Romeo 4C’s engine, or the upcoming 300 horsepower Hurricane 2.0T, Fiat opted instead for the same engine you would find in a garden-variety Fiat 500.
This leaves the Fiat 124 Spider stuck between 160 and 170 horsepower, even in Abarth trim. You can get similar horsepower out of the larger, naturally-aspirated MX-5 engine without any major modifications.
So what we have is a better-looking MX-5. Is that enough? No, but options and incentives may save the deal.
For instance, Fiat cars sold in the United States are offered with a Mopar extended warranty range, that extends up to lifetime coverage. I know plenty of MX-5 owners that would opt for a lifetime warranty, in a heartbeat.
My hope is that the Fiat 124 doesn’t fall into the same corner-pocket as a Chrysler 200… killed off right before the powertrain lands that could save it.
The Chrysler 200 won’t get that new 300 hp, 2.0T engine. It won’t get the new TTV6 that is coming to the next-gen Chrysler 300. It would have been the most amazing mid-size, rear-biasing AWD sport sedan… but that’s not going to happen now.
My fear is that Fiat 124 sales will be too tepid, to justify dropping the new 2.0T Hurricane engine into it. Which, is the engine that customers actually want in a Fiat 124.