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The Fiat 124 Spider may not be long for this world

Mazda-ish sports car is profitable, but sales are too slow to make it worth the effort

Want an idea of how tough the world is for small, two-seater sports cars right now? Despite the Fiat 124 Spider sharing a name with a 1960s classic and most of its chassis and interior with the iconic, excellent Mazda MX-5, it could be on its last legs.

In fact, since the latest efficiency regulations came into force, the 1.4-litre turbocharged roadster hasn’t even been on sale in the UK.

TopGear.com asked Fiat’s marketing chief Francois Olivier what the future holds for the likeable 124 Spider, which has only been on the market since 2016. He slightly dodged the question, reporting instead how the current one is selling. Here’s the glass half-full and half-empty verdict…

“I think it’s a niche market,” Olivier explains. “124 does well… it’s the second-best seller in its category in Europe after the MX-5. On the one hand, that’s really good. It’s more than the BMW Z4, it looks good on the ranking. On the other hand, it’s not a lot of cars. That’s the paradox of the 124 Spider. This niche is so small now.”

Is it a profitable one, TG probed? “It is profitable, thanks to the fact it’s a joint venture with Mazda. Otherwise it would not be profitable. This is, for sure, not the future of the brand.”

“[Sports cars] are great opportunities that you grab”, he continued. “They add cool factor to the brand, and they fit well with Abarth. But it is not the future. It’s one opportunity that’s good for us, but it’s not what I’d call a pure, absolute Fiat.”

Francois then cantered off on a slightly bizarre monologue about how happy he is that Sting and Shaggy featured the Abarth 124 Spider in a recent music video, referring to Shaggy as “his brother”.

Sorry Shaggy, but not enough people lover-lover the 124 Spider to make it worth Fiat’s while, it seems.

Can’t stand losing the 124 Spider? Feel free to send Fiat a digital message in a bottle. We’ll be watching you in the comments.

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