The all-new Abarth 124 Spider goes on sale in October, but our motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, has managed to get behind the wheel of the model early.
The Abarth 124 Spider is cast from the same mould as the Fiat 124, and to develop it Abarth has used the same tactic as it did to change the Fiat 500 into the Abarth 595. In other words, it has added athletic looks, noise and, most importantly, clout. The Abarth 124 Spider uses the same platform as Mazda’s phenomenally successful MX-5 and Fiat’s 124. However, while the Fiat has been set up to be more of a cruising machine, the Abarth is far more hardcore – and certainly the most performance focused of the three marques.
The similarities continue, with the Abarth 124 Spider using exactly the same 1.4-litre, four-pot turbocharged petrol engine as Fiat’s 124 – except in the Abarth it produces 170PS, compared with the Fiat 124’s 140PS. The Abarth’s lump spins with the proper Italian sports car vigour you’d hope for. It feels naughty and entertaining at high revs and you’re aware of the turbocharger when you press on. The car is quick to respond and the gear change is swift and exact – almost aggressive.
The best thing about the Abarth 124 Spider 124 Spider, though, is the noise it makes. Crackling burbles emit from the four tailpipes when doing the 0-62mph sprint, as I found out testing the car at Silverstone Circuit. The sports car will reach the magic figure in 6.8 seconds, on its way to 143mph. Drop the roof, via a simple latch, and the Abarth 124’s sound is even more scrumptious.
For an added dollop of pleasure, the Abarth 124 GT has a Sport setting. Press the button and things become louder, tighter and quicker. The throttle feels more urgent, and weight is also added to the steering, making you feel even more connected with the road – or race track. The Abarth 124 Spider feels most happy driven hard, with the rear-end hunkered down over the back wheels. Even when you go too hard into a bend and lose traction for a bit, the Abarth 124 continues to behave well. Working out what the backside of the car is going to do soon becomes easy.
All things considered, the Abarth 124 Spider is a grin generator, although your smile might falter for a nanosecond when you see the price – £29,565. Yes, it’s a chunk of cash, but once you’ve heard the tuneful tailpipes, felt the performance and experienced the handling for yourself, you’ll realise this car is worth every single penny.
If you can’t quite stretch to the Abarth 124 Spider, then pop into Perrys to take the excellent Mazda MX-5 for a spin. This car offers open top summer motoring fun for less money. Just remember, though, that the Abarth badge has some weighty heritage behind it – and the car will be far rarer. So, visit Perrys to see an Abarth 124 Spider ‘in the metal’ when it hits our showrooms in October.
Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Looks √
- Sound √
- Handling √
- Fun √
- Potential licence loser X
- Max speed: 143 mph
- 0-62 mph: 6.8 secs
- Combined mpg: 44.1
- Engine layout: 1368cc 4-cylinder turbo petrol
- Max. power (PS): 170
- CO2: 148 g/km
- Price: £29,565