Threatening to sap some wind from the Fiat 124 Spider–based Abarth 124 Spider roadster at its big debut in Geneva is—believe it or not—another Abarth Spider, a much, much cooler one. The only caveat is that you can’t buy it, at least, unless you’re keen on taking it rallying in the FIA’s R-GT class during the 2017 season. Stealing the show is the 124 Rally, a purpose-built race car that Fiat and its Abarth performance arm will begin selling to racers shortly after the 2016 Geneva auto show wraps up.
The Abarth 124 Rally is the spiritual successor to the car of the same name that Fiat/Abarth peddled from 1972 to 1975 specifically for rally competition. Like that car, the new model looks incredible with its array of auxiliary driving lights dotting the front end, fully race-prepped interior, and power bump over regular Fiat 124 Spiders. Make that a gigantic power bump—the 124 Rally spits out 300 horsepower from a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, quite a jump over the 170 ponies Abarth extracts from the pedestrian 124’s 1.4-liter turbo four. The engine, unlike the MultiAir four-cylinder shared by the 124 Spider and the Fiat 500 Abarth, uses direct fuel injection, in addition to its larger displacement and presumably hefty tuning job to produce another 130 horsepower.
The engine powers the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential-shift gearbox and a mechanically locking rear differential. Wait, a rear-drive rally car, you ask? Indeed, although the standard 124’s 50-50 weight distribution is skewed slightly rearward here in the interest of grip, courtesy of a composite hardtop and a full safety roll cage. We absolutely can’t wait to see the Abarth 124 Rally tear up stages next year, even if the race cars don’t wear the classic red-over-yellow livery on the auto-show debut car, which we found applied to a 1973 Fiat 124 Rally sold by Bonhams auctions in 2014.
2016 Geneva Auto Show Full Coverage