Abarth’s Sport Mode switch / Auto-Sport-Mode option?

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As advertised, most Abarth owners agree that activating the Sport mode switch  provides “an even more engaged driving experience”, as compared to the “Normal” mode that those of us driving Classicas and Lussos always experience.  The primary programming changes that are activated within various modules in the vehicle, including the Engine Control Module (ECM or ECU or PCM – Powertrain Control Module), Transmission Control Module (TCM), Dynamic Stability Control/Traction Control Module (DSC/TCM) and the Power Steering Control Module (PSCM):

  • sharper throttle response due to different ECU mappings of the throttle body and Multi-Air control of the inlet valves
  • torque curve shifted lower in the power band in ECU due to allowing turbo boost at 2500 rpm, rather than at 3200 rpm
  • automatic transmission shift calibrations are changed due to different TCM mappings, so that gears are held longer, and shifts are made quicker
  • reduces the degree of electric power assist in the steering (heavier) due to different PSCM mappings, increasing steering feedback to the driver (along with a slight increase in effort)
  • relaxed Dynamic Stability Control by adjusting the limits at which stability control intervenes


The switch (which pokes up through the bezel opening, but isn’t actually attached to the bezel) is connected electrically to the Instrument Cluster, and when engaged for about 2 seconds, triggers the Sport mode mappings within the aforementioned modules via the HS-CAN network.  The ECU then triggers the Sport mode indicator light in the instrument cluster (as shown in the photo above), also via the HS-CAN network.

sport switch detail

Assuming that the “Sport” indicator light exists in all of 124 Spider clusters, I’m curious as to whether the Sport mode:

  • connection can be made to the instrument cluster in a Classica or Lusso (which connector and pin?) via our own (momentary-on) switch, or a console bezel and Sport switch (along with wiring harness) from an Abarth that incorporates the official switch
  • whether that will actually trigger Sport mode in a Classica or Lusso

Auto-Sport-Mode option?

[UPDATE 12/3/2018, in answer to comment posed by Torben Tigges]

I wonder if a device to automatically engage Sport mode each time the car is started (if it was engaged when the vehicle’s engine was last turned off), could be developed.

I’ve learned today that some MX-5 Miatas (with the Skyactive-G 2.0) also feature a Sport Mode switch (it isn’t unique to the Abarth variant after all), and that the wiring diagrams in the MX-5 Service Manual have reflected this feature all along:

sport mode1

PCM actually triggers the Sport Mode light in the cluster, acknowledging activation

1. When the sports mode is selected (1) using the drive selection switch, the instrument cluster sends (2) a drive selection signal to the TCM and the PCM via CAN communication. When the PCM receives the drive selection signal, it sends (3) a select mode indication on request signal to the instrument cluster and displays the select mode indication (4).

2. When the TCM receives the drive selection signal, it changes (5) the shift point.

3. When the PCM receives the drive selection signal, it switches (6) the controls such as the throttle valve opening angle relative to the accelerator opening angle.

sport mode2

Drive selection switch inhibition conditions
  • If any of the following conditions is met, the mode is not switched even if the drive selection switch is operated.
    • During ABS/DSC/TCS control
    • During sudden maneuvering

1. When the drive selection operation is performed (1), the instrument cluster sends (2) a drive selection signal to the PCM via CAN communication.

2. If the drive selection switch is operated with a drive selection switching inhibition condition met, the PCM sends (3) a select mode indication flash request signal to the instrument cluster.

3. The instrument cluster flashes (4) the select mode indication to notify the driver that drive selection is currently inhibited.

sport mode

PCM triggers flashing Sport mode light in the cluster, indicating inhibited function during ABS/DSC/TCS control, cruise control or during sudden maneuvering


aha4aiconIf someone could get there hands on the applicable CAN network commands, Sergey at could probably easily develop an “Auto-Sport Mode” plug-n-play solution to Torben’s request, by reprogramming his new Turn Signal reminder device to:

  • remember the status of Sport mode at engine shutdown
  • re-trigger Sport mode ON across HS-CAN, when restarting engine, if that was the status condition in memory
  • should a non-Abarth cluster (with added switch connected) not be capable of triggering the other modules by sending the mode selection via the HS-CAN network (which I doubt), it could probably perform that function as well
  • be programmed to interpret another CAN sequence (such as a long-press of DSC button, or a short-press of the TPMS switch) to toggle sport mode, so that this device would also be practical in non-Abarth vehicles, without even requiring the installation of the Sport mode switch!

…which would plug into the OBDII port, and also serves as a great footwell courtesy light as the driver’s door is opened.

I have Sergey’s Turn Signal Reminder device that plugs into the OBD2 port, and although it works great, if an Auto-Sport Mode device ever comes to fruition, I’d also buy it, and trade-off using them both (assuming he couldn’t combine the functions).

boost lag

38 thoughts on “Abarth’s Sport Mode switch / Auto-Sport-Mode option?

  1. A couple of thoughts related to this. The first is whether or not the ECM programming includes dual maps on all models of the 124 Spider, or if the second map is only applied on the Abarth models. The second thing to potentially check out would be to lift off the shfiter boot surround panel to see if the wiring exists under it, and that the switch merely isn’t installed on non-Abarth models. If that were the case, it might be an even simpler task. The selector switch itself is just a two way rocker, and by pressing either up or down for a couple of seconds activates and deactivates sport mode. On the Abarth version, the switch is mounted against the central structure, and just pokes up through a pre-cut opening in the boot surround piece. A couple of days ago, I had to remove mine to do a neater boot installation as part of a shift knob replacement that I put in, and with a trim removal tool is was a very simple and fast process. Here’s the URL of an instruction guide on how this is done:

    Liked by 1 person

    • All of my reading indicates that the ECM and other modules (other than the cluster and TPMS) are regionally common between the Fiat and Abarth. Greg has alluded to this as well in their cloned ECM announcement. On the website is stated:

      Full control over all engine parameters by utilizing true factory Calibrations

      as a great many mappings are part of the factory firmware, and it’s a matter of which mapping is selected. There are even mappings for Compressed Natural Gas already included, as well as viscosity of Pennzoil 5W-40 full-synthetic oil for the full operating temperature range!

      Here is a photo of their EURO+DRIVE® cloned factory ECM for U.S.A. Fiat & Abarth:

      I doubt that the switch wiring is present however, and the wiring connector on the other end of that harness, could very well be unique to the Abarth’s cluster.

      P.S. Will a free online version of the Spider Service manual ever be made available, like the MX-5’s. 😉


  2. Since the switch’s status is not remembered after engine shut down, I – and some others – were wondering if a small controller could be placed behind the switch that intercepts, stores and sets the status on start up, when it was previously on.
    Like this:
    ♦ Engine on, controller starts up, previous status was “off” (0), nothing happens.
    ♦ Switch is set to “on”, signal is intercept, status is stored as “on” (1) and forwarded, of course.
    On the next start up, the controller sees that the last status was “on” and sends a signal.


    • I’ve looked deeper into the subject, only to learn that Mazda’s wiring diagrams have reflected the Sport mode switch all along. I’ve tried to answer your question at the end of my article, and we’ll see if anything develops. I’ve called attention to Sergey (ssh16) @mx5things, on his blog to gather his thoughts.


      • I think it is doable, but I don’t have MX-5 anymore, I will need some help to debug this.
        I need to know, what condition to check before activating Sport mode. For example , engine must be running prior pressing this button? Wil it work in Park position or only during driving?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sport mode can be activated if the engine is off and gearbox is in P.
        As far as I can tell the only prerequisite seems to be that ignition has to be ON (ACC isn’t sufficient, but in this state the instrument panel is inactive anyway)

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have a Classica, so understand why I too have so many questions…

        ♦ Does DSC need to be turned off manually before engaging Sport mode?
        ♦ and Tobias, if a Classica owner plugged a device in that turned on Sport mode all-the-time, you’re thinking it wouldn’t be well liked? Switchable would be better?
        ♦ if Sport mode was switchable, do you think there would be a good demand for this “Auto Sport-Mode” device to make it worthwhile for ssh16 to develop?

        Similar to this device, rather than requiring a physical Sport mode switch, a long-press of the DSC switch could be programmed as a “Sport mode toggle”. Then the device could automatically engage Sport mode each time the car is started (if it was engaged when the vehicle’s engine was last turned off), and it would function for all MX-5s and 124 Spiders that have the capability built into the ECU; not just those that have a Sport mode switch.

        I think I’m partially answering my own questions 😉
        I think the device would be quite popular, if it:
        ♦ remembered the previous setting and triggered Sport mode at next start, based on that
        ♦ would also function for those vehicles that didn’t have a Sport mode button, by being switchable by another CAN command, rather than a physical switch

        Time for coffee, as i await replies…


      • Sport mode doesn’t require you to manually disable DSC beforehand. DSC light also doesn’t automatically light up if you activate sport mode. To me these two functions seem to be independent.

        I think that there are two audiences for such a device.
        ♦ classica/lusso owners that want to sometimes activate sport mode (if the non-Abarth ECU software allows this). About 80% of my commute is city traffic, so i normally only use std. mode. Sport mode is pretty much only useful when you sit at the front of traffic lights and want to get a head start (also torque-converter ftw ^^ ) or make the Record Monza a bit noisier.
        ♦ classica/lusso/abarth owners that want to have sport mode enabled at start. So mostly for track or autobahn use or long tours through the countryside.

        So imo, a device that can offer both functions would be the best, with the on-start option being something the user can activate/deactivate.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I know this isn’t an inexpensive option, but one way to deal with both issues here (enabling sport mode in non-Abarth models, and having cars start up in sport mode by default), would be to consider purchasing and loading a tune that does exactly that. When I acquired tuning for my vehicle, I could have chosen to retain the stock setting for both regular and sport mode, and reverse them in position in the ECM. In other words, “normal” mode would provide the sport mode functionality, and you would have to select the sport mode switch to enable the “normal” functionality. At around $850 USD, this isn’t an inexpensive option, but it would meet all the requirements with the exception of having the system remember the last performance mode the car was in before it was shut down. Additionally since all the mods are performed using the OBD port, it becomes a simple installation process. If Sergey can incorporate this into his turn signal mods, then that would be a far more economical solution (at least as i see it).


    • Addendum. An error on my part. The tuning swap would not address a dual mode functionality for non-Abarth owners. It would only support one mode of operation, without an actual switch being in place to allow selection between the two settings. So a person could in theory have their car set permanently in sport mode, but I’m speculating that that option might not be optimal for most owners.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sergey, I edited the wording from “Can you..” to “Can someone…”, since I don’t have the Sport mode switch in my Classica. Hopefully, another reader will respond though.


    • Bummer. Had the rear console removed over christmas to put some leather on it. Wouldn’t have been a problem measuring it then.
      I can give it a try once I’m back from vacation. Not sure though if i can disassemble it again without damaging the leather. Doesn’t help that i also put a carbon fibre panel there before which makes the whole procedure even more challenging.

      Sidenote: The switch is not part of the shift panel unit (only has a cutout) but part of the ‘upper panel’ (the one with the radio controls). It also has a seperate connector for the switch.
      Not really reelvant but maybe of interest to somebody.


      • Just tried to remove the shift panel but had no luck. No space to insert a lever anymore, leather is too thick.

        Sorry for not being much of a help.


      • @Heimey,

        As stated before, I don’t believe the wiring will be present for the Sport mode switch in the non-Abarths. The purpose of this thread that I had in mind, was to create a means of invoking Sport mode via CAN command in Classicas and Lussos, without necessarily installing the actual switch. Another CAN switch, like TPMS could invoke the mode instead. Currently, if memory serves, only a long-press of that switch has a function (Reset), but not a short-press. Ideally, the new module would also remember the chosen setting, so that you wouldn’t have to activate it every time you start your vehicle (assuming someone wishes for Sport mode to always be on 😉 ). That feature alone, might appeal to Abarth owners.

        Similarly, I just bought a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee last week, and upon finding out that ESS (stops the engine every time the car comes to a stop) is mandatory now, although there is a button to disable it that needs to be pushed every time you start the vehicle to deactivate ESS. Fortunately, I found a module that plugs in under the seat that monitors the CAN network (like my turn signal reminder module), and memorizes the most recent auto-stop on/off setting, so you don’t have to activate the auto-stop button every time you get in the car.


      • A little of that too. I’d added this to my comment while you were replying…

        Ideally, the new module would also remember the chosen setting, so that you wouldn’t have to activate it every time you start your vehicle (assuming someone wishes for Sport mode to always be on 😉 ). That feature alone, might appeal to Abarth owners.


    • Since the whole idea was to trigger Sport mode directly in the CAN network, rather than using the switch to have the cluster trigger it, I’m not sure why Sergey needs to know the switch particulars…


      • Oh forgot:
        are the respective documents


  4. unfortunately simulation with IC only is not working. Probably IC need to communicate with PCM, before it will react on this switch. I don’t have PCM module with me.
    Now only CAN logging in actual car can help, we need to catch message, when Sport mode is activated.
    Once we know what message follows pressing button, I can update code of my controller, so it will remember previous status of Sport mode.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a UK Abarth 124 and I also have a 124 lusso plus. What tools/devices would I need to get you the info that you need. I’m guessing a multimeter to begin with. Let me know, I’d love to help. I also have an arduino (If that is of any use) and am a software engineer by day. Give me some tasks and I’ll get on it!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sergey needs someone to record the CAN-bus during de-/activation of Sport Mode and find the 2 messages the instrument cluster (IC) sends to the PCM and TCM.

        Unfortunately i don’t have such a device, so can’t help here.


  5. With Reiss help, I think I found CAN code for enabling Sport mode. Unfortunately it will be not possible to use my Turn Signal timer device for this, but it must be device similar as I made for front camera switching. Because IC CAN continuously sending messages, even if we send our message, it will be overwritten every 10ms.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is looking like Sergey is working on a device and harness that will plug into the Start Stop module. It is currently being developed with other specific tasks in mind (switching a front camera on for parking / keeping the radio powered for 15 or 20 minutes after the engine has been turned off; not currently possible in MT cars). He can program the device for other CAN command tasks, like enabling Sport mode, if testing proves to be successful.


  7. Nice progress. Yes, for many of us who own the Abarth version, it would be nice to have the start up opposite of the current state (start in Sport mode, change switch setting to return to regular mode), or better still… yes, remember the last setting used.

    Regarding the question Heimeyisdead was asking, in the Abarth version, the switch contents sit in the voided space he shows at the bottom middle of his first photo. But, since the mod seems to be geared to not using that space, how would those of you with Lussos and Classicos change back and forth from regular to sport mode? No urgency to reply, I’m just curious.


    • Hi again Cal,

      Another CAN switch, like TPMS could invoke the mode instead. Currently, if memory serves, only a long-press of that switch has a function (Reset), but not a short-press. That might be an ideal switch for Classicas and Lussos, but do the Abarths even have a TPMS switch? So a quick tap of that switch for instance could toggle Sport mode (in theory).

      Sergey is doing a similar thing with a front camera switch, whereby a touch of the mute button while under 5 mph, would trigger a front bumper camera onto the screen, to help avoid curbs. Not sure if he has made the final decision as to which switch will be used for triggering the CAN message yet.


      • No, the Abarth has no TPMS reset switch, as they use direct TPMS sensors. With the indirect sensors, you have to inflate your tires to the proper spec, and then reset the system to register them (as I understand it). With the Abarths, the only adjustments that get done are when you replace the sensor itself, and then that sensor has to be re-registered to the receiver unit.

        So in short, no, we don’t have a TPMS button. But, if Sergey comes up with something that remembers the last state the vehicle was in before it was shut down, then that would work nicely for everyone… and then you just need a way to initiate the change in state with the Lusso and Classico versions.

        Keeping my fingers crossed… 🙂


  8. Has this gone anywhere? And what exactly would Sport mode do in a Lusso if we were able to activate it? I wonder if I would get the auto trans mappings for Sport mode.


  9. Since Sergey doesn’t have a Miata anymore, and no one else has published their intent to take this project further, it appears we are in limbo status. In theory, yes your Lusso would mimic the Abarth sport-mode behavior, if we were able to activate it, as all of the mappings are already in the PCM and TCM modules.


    • Thanks for the update. There must be someone out there that makes CAN bus products that could tackle this based on the known info.


  10. If I get the paddle shifters installed and succeed in sourcing an Abarth diff and successfully install it, and then someone comes up with a working solution for adding Sport mode functionality, I will truly have “Abarthized” my Lusso. It would be glorious.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi all, just bought a 2019 Classica. Definitely planning on tackling paddle shifters, but what was the verdict on sport mode? should it be possible to add it?


  12. Hello everyone, I’m Stefano from Italy. I’m looking for a way to have the sport button on my 124 “Lusso” version.
    I noticed that the multiecuscann version 5 supports the 124 spider!

    Magneti Marelli IAW 8GMK CF6/EOBD Injection (1.4) |INFO|DTC|DTC EX|PRM|ACT|ADJ| ELM
    Continental ABS/ESP (124) |INFO|DTC|PRM|ACT|ADJ| ELM
    Instrument Panel (124) |INFO|DTC|PRM|ACT| ELM
    Body Computer Calsonic Kansei (124) |INFO|DTC|PRM|ACT| ELM
    Climate control (124) |INFO|DTC|PRM|ACT|ADJ| ELM


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