Yes, we all know the Fiat/Abarth Spider is a rebodied MX-5. Look under the bonnet and boot you’ll find Mazda stickers…albeit partially scratched away on our press loan.
So let’s get over that and forget it now. Right now.
Abarth have aimed to spice up the Fiat 124 spider. The 1.4 MultiAir engine has been turned up to 168 BHP, a roarty sports exhaust has been added along with some outlandish styling.
The premium? Expect to pay just under £2k for those additions.
Our Abarth came in at a ridiculous price. In Spider Heritage trim it was coupled with an automatic gearbox, and £400 white paint. £32,320. That’s a lot of money in anyone’s book for a 1.4 turbo ‘Sports car’.
Comparing it to the car it’s based on…ahem. I know which one I’d rather have. The Abarth every time. Its longer nose may be ungainly to some, but it just looks spot on to me.
The headlights are gorgeous, the red details, I even love the matt black.
An odd thing that matt black paint. The bonnet is painted, but at the edges it looks as though it’s wrapped, whilst the boot is obviously sprayed. I can’t help but think it would be a nightmare if you were ever in a prang.
You’re probably better off opting for all white and wrapping the bonnet/boot if you want the ‘Heritage Spider’ look.
Annoying as it was having an auto in a car of this ilk, the gearbox wasn’t bad. Changes occurred instantly whilst a downshift was greeted with a nice burble and an occasional pop.
The frivolities that go with a rear wheel drive car and 168 BHP couldn’t be had with this setup though. Even with traction control off wheel spin off the line was negated due to the auto. But once in motion and haring through some B roads there is something to be said about the paddle shift changes.
You can focus fully on the drive.
Leaving it in auto (why would you?!) and you can lazily cruise around, with the ‘box upshifting rapidly to try and save fuel where it can.
I kept it in manual 90% of the time, letting it rev out so I could appreciate the ‘Record Monza’ exhaust. In return I was greeted with MPG of roughly 24 around town…shockingly bad for a 1.4 turbo, but that exhaust note is worth it.
It’s only really in your face at lower revs, once in third gear and cruising it dulls down to become a muted burble. Before that though you’re met with near supercar sounds. Abarth certainly know how to make a good exhaust, they’ve had enough practice with the 500 and to transfer it to the Spider it gives something that’s much lacking in its Japa…I’m not mentioning it.
Ride is somewhat sloppier than I’d have thought in the Abarth. Seeing as it’s meant to be the hardcore, sporty version of the 124. You’ll find hints of body roll as well as a slight dipping and pitching under brake and acceleration. It’s also rather good at absorbing the rougher stuff beneath tyre.
You can live with it every day, but track honed and super hard it certainly isn’t.
0-60 takes 6.7 seconds. You’re getting 30 more horses than the Fiat version and 250Nm of torque. Emissions for the auto are 153 g/km.
The roof is a manual affair and pops down quickly with a clip at the top of the windscreen. Noise is handled well when the roof is up, with no whistling to be had. A lot has to be said about a manual roof, it can be deployed so quickly when compared to an electric version, with no stopping or slowing down needed.
Boot space is small at just 140 litres, but it’s enough for a couple of overnight bags or a week’s shopping.
There’s not a huge amount to be said here. It’s been lifted straight out of that…other car.
A few extra additions make it feel a tad more special though. A numbered plaque sits between you and your accomplice, whilst Abarth is emblazoned across the top of each seat.
Whilst we’re on the seats, they are far more hugging than that found in any other similar underpinnings. Our’s had the fancy Bose speakers in the headrests too, a welcome addition with the roof down but they only really aid the trebble.
Oh, and there’s a funky Abarth Scoprion embossed into the Alcantara armrest.
The car it’s based on has always needed more oomph and a sportier note. Abarth have fixed both.
Much as Jota did a few years ago, they’ve taken something and fixed the two key areas Mazda seem unwilling to address.
Don’t get an auto though, go manual. And opt for the newer, cheaper entry level ‘Scorpione’ trim. You just miss out on the leather seats, but the price drops to a more palatable £26,690.
If you want to spec your very own Abarth 124, you can do so with the online configurator. You can see how the look and kit changes between Spider, Spider Heritage and the new Scorpione…just don’t spec the auto unless you like going to petrol stations.