Fiat Barchetta

Barchetta is designed as a direct competitor against the successful Mazda MX-5. That Japanese roadster was launched as early as 1990 and created a new trend for affordable roadster. For 6 years there was not a single competitior emerged, therefore it can enjoy the monopoly of this market in all over the world until the arrival of Barchetta. During the 6 years, Fiat was probably very jealous, since it is Fiat who invented affordable roadster by 850 Spyder.  

To save cost and development time, Barchetta is based on the tiny Punto platform - all understructure and suspensions are carried over, except the front overhang is extended a lot to create a sleeker nose. Engine is of course one of the member of SUPER FIRE family, i.e., a variable valve timing version of Brava's 1.8 litres 16 valves four. Power and torque may not be too impressive at 130hp and 121lbft, but at least it is stronger than MX-5's in bottom end.  

Barchetta is purposefully styled. It is quite beautiful and niche despite looking short. Styling of interior is also good. Overall build quality is as good as Japanese.  

Base on the front drive Punto chassis, the improvement is considerable - rigidity, grip and balance are better than MX-5, but lacks the final degree of steering feel and throttle-oversteering that make the Japanese car so popular for 6 years. Rear wheel drive is still better than front. 

The above report was last updated in 1998. All Rights Reserved.


Front-engined, Fwd
L / W / H / WB: 3910 / 1640 / 1260 / 2275 mm
Inline-4, dohc, 4v/cyl, VVT.
1747 c.c.
130 hp
121 lbft
F: Strut; R: Strut
195 / 55 R15
1056 kg
Top speed
118 mph*
0-60 mph
8.7 sec*
0-100 mph
26.4 sec*
* Tested by Autocar

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