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Abarth 124 Spider (2016–)

Last updated 15 January 2019

Great fun to drive. More power and torque than the Fiat 124. Aggressive styling.
Very loud. Expensive. Impractical. Fiat 124 and Mazda MX-5 are better value. 124 Spider Withdrawn from UK market from January 2019.
Updated 8 January 2019

124 Spider Withdrawn from UK market.

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The Abarth 124 is the fastest and most extreme version of the Fiat 124. Great to drive, aggressively styled and supplied with a riotous soundtrack, the Abarth provides open-top thrills. Unfortunately its appeal is dented somewhat by its lofty price, which makes it rather expensive compared to the range-topping 2.0-litre MX-5, with which it shares many of its components.

Power comes from the same 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine that's used in the standard 124, but the output has been increased to 170PS while torque peaks at 250Nm. Zero to 62mph acceleration is swift too - at 6.8 seconds - and there’s plenty of punch in the mid-range which means the Abarth 124 feels a lot quicker than its official figures suggest. 

The steering, transmission and pedals are beautifully weighted and positioned, so the Abarth 124 is a real joy to drive on a twisting road, with lots of feedback through the chassis. It’s easy to place in a corner and has nimble, involving handling that makes it easy to judge grip levels. As a result, it’s huge fun, especially with the roof down.

Folding it is very quick and easy, but it is manually operated. The handbook recommends stopping and getting out of the car, but at very low speeds or when stopped at a set of lights it’s easy to undo the locking mechanism and fold the roof back in a matter of seconds – or vice-versa if it starts to rain.

Compared to the Fiat, the Abarth has a much louder exhaust system and it’s arguably a bit too loud. Expect some twitching curtains from your neighbours if you have to make an early start. And that noise, while fun on the right road, can get tiresome after a few hours cruising on the motorway.

Like the Fiat 124, there isn’t much space inside. It’s a two-seater – so no carrying extra passengers even for short trips – and taller drivers simply won’t be able to get comfy. There is very little in the way of storage, with no door pockets and, while boot space is the same whether the roof is up or down, it’s only really big enough for a small suitcase or a couple of shopping bags.

The Abarth 124 won't be for everyone, but if you appreciate aggressive styling and a thunderous soundtrack then this angry, shouting soft-top will have lots of appeal. As a driver's car, it’s a great upgrade over the standard Fiat 124 and a great alternative to the 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. Just beware that picking a few extras can push the price north of £30,000 – which is a lot of money for an impractical roadster. 

List Price from £29,780
Buy new from £28,122
Contract hire from £278.39 per month

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