MX-5-based roadster has been withdrawn from sale in the UK but Fiat is open to another partnership for a sequel

The future of the Fiat 124 Spider hinges on the firm continuing to work with a joint-venture partner, according to the firm’s boss, Olivier François.

The 124 Spider has been withdrawn from sale in the UK, and although it is the second biggest seller in its class behind the Mazda MX-5 with which it shares its underpinnings, global sales remain slow. 

“The 124 market is a niche one,” said François. “It is profitable business for us - but only because of the joint venture. It was an opportunity and we took it. It makes money and it adds a certain cool factor.

“But I accept that such a car may not be key to the future of the brand. It is not what I’d call a pure, absolute Fiat, but for now, it remains an interesting opportunity.”

The model, which shares a platform with the Mazda MX-5, was recently taken off the company's UK website line-up after just over two years on the market. However, the Abarth version, in Spider and hard-top GT form, remains on sale. 

The car's removal from sale could potentially be due to WLTP emissions regulations. Its 1.4-litre Multiair turbocharged petrol engine is an older unit that has been in use by various Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brands for some years now and it may not have been cost-effective to upgrade it for the introduction of more stringent emissions tests late last year.

Our Verdict

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The Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Jeep Renegade are no longer sold with this engine option, although it is still in use in Abarth models. The facelifted Renegade now makes use of a newly developed 1.3-litre turbo unit, but it remains to be seen if that engine will be used elsewhere. 

Fiat introduced the 124 Spider in the UK in summer 2016, around a year after its Mazda cousin. Sales of both have declined sharply in the US in the past year, with the Fiat down around 25% and the Mazda, badged Miata in the US, down 21% compared with 2017. However, sales of both in Europe have remained relatively stable. 

Read more:

Fiat 124 Spider review

Autocar's 10 best affordable sports cars

Europe's carmakers face widespread WLTP disruption

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Comments
34

7 January 2019

I suspect this is more to do with how many Fiat are selling in the UK more than anything. 

The sportscar is in major trouble these days. Car fans need to rush out and buy Alpines and F types quickly or I fear only the Mazda MX5 and Porsche sport cars will exist (if we are lucky)

8 January 2019
TStag wrote:

The sportscar is in major trouble these days. Car fans need to rush out and buy Alpines and F types quickly or I fear only the Mazda MX5 and Porsche sport cars will exist (if we are lucky)

Maybe people aren't  buying sports cars because in todays congested roads people can't really use them? That's why I sold my Boxster S a few years ago and replaced it with a Mercedes diesel estate. No fun, but not much slower in the real world and a whole lot more practical with it.

9 January 2019
Jeremy wrote:

Maybe people aren't  buying sports cars because in todays congested roads people can't really use them? That's why I sold my Boxster S a few years ago and replaced it with a Mercedes diesel estate. No fun, but not much slower in the real world and a whole lot more practical with it.

Depends where you live.   Still plenty of the country where a sportscar makes perfect sense as a second car.   Doesnt go quicker, but is more fun.   MX5, 124, GT86, Alpine and maybe even Boxster/Cayman ideal for that, but emphasis on fun, not power.  Cars have got faster, roads havent, so I have no idea what i'd do with something like a 911 to be honest.  Or indeed mega powerful execs.  200bhp or so of diesel power seems more than enough for rapid but not frustrating progress.

17 February 2019
llo there mates, it is incredible composed piece completely characterized, proceed with the great work always. joburi in uk

7 January 2019

I've been pleased to see quite a few of these on the roads and they look good. I hope Fiat manage to sort something out engine-wise, if that's the problem.

7 January 2019
catnip wrote:

I've been pleased to see quite a few of these on the roads and they look good. I hope Fiat manage to sort something out engine-wise, if that's the problem.

I couldn’t agree more.  I live about a mile from a Fiat dealer so I see quite a few locally, both Abarth and regular models.  It’s a great looking little car, and the Abarth sounds like a proper sports car should too.  I really hope they sort this and give it a decent modern engine.

7 January 2019

The Multi-Air is only used in the 124 Abarth, the 595s use a T-Jet, but there is no multi-Air.

Whether they'll fit the new Firefly engine and engineer it for RHD remains to be seen....

8 January 2019
Richard H wrote:

The Multi-Air is only used in the 124 Abarth, the 595s use a T-Jet, but there is no multi-Air.

Whether they'll fit the new Firefly engine and engineer it for RHD remains to be seen....

The 1.4 litre MultiAir unit is also used in all North American 500s.

 

7 January 2019
Doesn't seem long since car mags were touting the Multiair system as a big step forward in engine tech. Disappointing to see that FCA don't appear to have continued to develop it to keep up with emissions regs.

The 1.4 Multiair in our Alfa is a lovely little engine. Drives like a 2.2, drinks like a 1.4, and even manages to sound pleasant too.

Hope they've something suitable lined up as a replacement, I don't think a generic turbo four would cut the mustard.

6 March 2019
captainaverage wrote:

Doesn't seem long since car mags were touting the Multiair system as a big step forward in engine tech. Disappointing to see that FCA don't appear to have continued to develop it to keep up with emissions regs. The 1.4 Multiair in our Alfa is a lovely little engine. Drives like a 2.2, drinks like a 1.4, and even manages to sound pleasant too. Hope they've something suitable lined up as a replacement, I don't think a generic turbo four would cut the mustard.

The Firefly turbo, in both 1.0 and 1.33, is both multiair and direct injection; the 2.0 turbo in Alfa and Jeep is also Multiair, so it does not seem to be on its way out by any stretch of the imagination.

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