The current Fiat 124 Spider has an interesting relationship with the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, existing somewhere between competitive and symbiotic. The Fiat is based largely on the MX-5, and the two roadsters are produced side-by-side at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant in Japan, so that without the Miata, the 124 Spider as we know it wouldn’t exist – and vice versa.
Nonetheless, buyers will inevitably end up cross-shopping the two, and if the latest intel on the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata turns out to be accurate, Fiat’s job of moving the 124 Spider might be about to get significantly more difficult. At present, the 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G in the North American Miata produces 155 horsepower – more than the 138 horsepower made by the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo in the Fiat 124 Spider, but less than the 168 horsepower made by the Abarth. However, Road & Track reports that the 2019 Mazda MX-5 might get bumped up to 181 horsepower, exceeding even the more performance-minded Abarth by a not-insignificant margin.
It’s unknown how Mazda might plan on achieving this, but a forced-induction system is not believed to be in the pipeline. Hong Kong-based tuning outfit Orange Virus has managed to squeeze a claimed 15 to 25 horsepower out of the stock motor by tuning the ECU for high-octane (91/93) pump gas, and British firm BBR GTI offers a 200-horsepower tuning package with a cold-air-intake, 4-into-1 header, high-performance cams with valvetrain upgrades, and an ECU tune. Granted, the 2.0-liter SkyActiv-G has a 14.0:1 compression ratio in Europe, as it’s designed to make use of higher-octane fuel natively.
In any event, if Road & Track‘s intel is correct, FCA may do well to increase horsepower from its 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine, both in the regular 124 Spider and in the higher-performance Abarth model. For Fiat, the method might be as simple as cranking up the boost.