A Fiat 124 Coupé is understood to be under development and could be revealed as soon as next year.
The fixed-head car would likely be a higher-performance spin-off from the Fiat 124 Spider, as the firm looks to capitalise on the sales and marketing success of that car in bringing in new customers to the brand and emphasising Fiat’s wider sporty credentials.
However, it would not make use of the retractable hard-top used by its sister car, the Mazda MX-5 RF, and would instead be designed as a coupé. The decision to separate it from the MX-5 is believed to have been made in order to create greater space between the two models in the minds of potential buyers and to allow Fiat to push its performance credentials to a greater extent.
A hint as to how the Fiat 124 Coupé could look was given by the Fiat Abarth 124 Rally concept unveiled at this year’s Geneva show, although some sources are suggesting that the rear of the car could be heavily restyled, changing the lines down to the boot. One Italian source has suggested the boot could be accessed through a bootlid with an integrated rear window in the style of the BMW Z3 Coupé. However, this has been disputed by other insiders, who suggest that such a solution would be too expensive to re-engineer and the standard boot opening will remain.
The powertrain is also said to be undecided, with some markets believed to be happy to take the 138bhp 1.4-litre unit that powers the sole Spider offering in the UK, while others are pushing company bosses in Turin to adopt either the US-market’s 158bhp version of the engine or to focus solely on the Abarth Spider’s 178bhp variant. With a fixed-head format being selected to enhance the car’s sporty credentials, the combination of the Abarth’s engine and performance kit, including a limited-slip differential, makes a compelling case for its adoption.
Pricing will hinge largely on which powertrain is selected, but if the range begins with the 138bhp 1.4, it is expected to be around 10% more than the soft-top, suggesting a starting price of £25,000.
Fiat has a long history of launching hard-roofed spinoffs of successful convertibles, such as the Fiat Dino, Fiat 850 and the original 124. However, the work was often done by coachbuilders as opposed to the factory. This time, despite the low sales potential, the halo value of a focused sports coupé to Fiat is believed to have persuaded the factory to undertake the project, with production of the reworked body being undertaken at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant.