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Performance-focused sports car from Italian legend

PROS

  • Less weight and with more power
  • Good handling and ride – in isolation
  • More upmarket than Fiat 124

CONS

  • More expensive than the Fiat version
  • Not as well rounded as the Mazda MX-5
  • Limited appeal on anything other than rational grounds

Verdict

Hoping to appeal to a slightly more enthusiast market, the Abarth Racing Team has taken a regular Fiat 124 Spider and cranked up the level of thrills available. It rivals enthusiasts’ favourites such as the Lotus Elise, Porsche Boxster and Audi TT Convertible.

Abarth is keen to point out that its 124 Spider is less heavy than its Fiat counterpart, thanks to the selective use of lightweight materials. It weighs in at just 1,060kg.

With an even 50:50 weight distribution and its own bespoke set of suspension components, the Abarth 124 Spider will aim to be as neutrally balanced as possible when it comes to handling characteristics.

Abarth upgrades

Brakes courtesy of Brembo help bring the Spider to a halt more effectively, and a standard-fit sports exhaust means a lively soundtrack for those wanting to have the volume turned up.

The Abarth’s multilayer roof is manually operated (like the Mazda MX-5 it’s based on) for quick and easy listening access to those acoustics.

Building on the Fiat’s retro looks, Abarth has treated the 124 Spider to a matt black bonnet and boot lid, with a grey finish on the windscreen surround and rollover bars.

Inside, you’ll find Alcantara dotted around the cabin to complement the suite of silver pedals, small-diameter steering wheel, short gear lever and a large, red rev counter. Each vehicle will also come with a unique number plaque to display their exclusivity.

One engine, two transmissions available

The Abarth 124 Spider will be powered by the same 1.4-litre engine as found in its Fiat counterpart. Unlike the Fiat, however, power is up from 138bhp to 168bhp, with torque up from 240Nm to 250Nm. The 0-62mph dash happens in 6.8 seconds and the top speed will nudge towards 143mph.

A limited-slip differential will be fitted to help channel the power through the rear-driven wheels as effectively as possible.

Unlike its Fiat twin, the Abarth will be available with an automatic gearbox alongside the six-speed manual transmission, coming with paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.

A range of trims available, with a limited edition model from launch

Only one trim level has been confirmed with five colours available: white, red, blue, grey and black.

Standard equipment is slightly more generous and is set to include:

  • 17-inch alloys
  • Leather seats
  • Air-conditioning
  • Cruise control
  • Four-speaker stereo with USB

The Parkers Verdict

A seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, full LED headlights, climate control, and a BOSE sound system with integrated speakers in the headrests will be available as optional extras.

It commands a significantly higher price (around £6,500 when it went on sale in 2017) than the Fiat counterpart, not to mention the Mazda MX-5 sister car. So, juding from our first impressions, it looks like the Abarth 124 Spider is going to have its work to cut out to make a success.

Check back soon on the Parkers website for more details and the full Abarth 124 Spider review.

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