Abarth 124 Spider review - Fun and character come at a price - Abarth 124 Spider performance and 0-60mph time

Abarth's take on the Fiat 124 is probably the best 'MX-5' yet

Evo rating
Price
from £29,565
  • Lots of fun, accessible performance, engaging character
  • Quite expensive, steering lacks feedback

With a useful boost in power over the standard Fiat 124 Spider comes a modest increase in pace. The Fiat’s 0-62mph time drops from 7.5sec to 6.8sec for the Abarth 124, while top speed grows by 10mph to 144mph. Incidentally, automatic models are barely slower than the manuals, being just a tenth slower to reach 62mph and only 2mph down at the top end.

While the Abarth is only a little more powerful than its 2-litre Mazda MX-5 counterpart in horsepower terms, it does still knock half a tenth from its 0-62mph time and bests it by 12mph when flat out – no doubt a result of developing 25 per cent more torque and doing so 2000rpm lower down the rev range.

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

The way the Abarth delivers that performance isn’t quite perfect, however. As you’d expect from a turbocharged engine there’s a definite sweet spot where the 1.4 delivers its best work, but that sweet spot feels all too brief. Little happens below 2000rpm – the non-turbo Mazda feels more responsive here – and there’s little incentive to use the full 6500rpm sweep to the red line when working the engine hard, as it begins to feel flat beyond around 5000rpm.

In contrast, the Mazda’s larger, naturally-aspirated engine isn’t as strong through the mid-range, but doesn’t protest at lower revs and feels (and sounds) sweeter all the way up to its cut-off. Drive on its mid-range torque though the Abarth feels usefully punchy, if not truly fast, and as you’ll see from our ride and handling comments, its performance can be more readily accessed as a tool to play with the car’s balance.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/caterham/201924/caterham-620r-v-ariel-atom-35-v-elemental-rp1
Caterham

Caterham 620R v Ariel Atom 3.5 v Elemental Rp1

Flight Club - lightweight track day toys with heavyweight powertrains, Steve Sutcliffe compares them on track at Anglesey circuit in Wales
5 Nov 2019
Visit/alfa-romeo/21322/alfa-romeo-to-launch-new-700bhp-8c-and-600bhp-gtv-coupe
Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo culls sports car programme in wake of FCA merger

Italian’s future performance models killed off in favour of more profitable SUVs
11 Nov 2019
Visit/toyota/yaris/201932/toyota-yaris-gr-4-hot-hatchback-teased-successor-to-the-grmn-and-a-true-wrc
Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris GR-4 hot hatchback teased – successor to the GRMN and a true WRC homologation special

Gazoo Racing to follow up its 2019 WRC championship with an all-new car based on the GR-4 hot hatch
6 Nov 2019
Visit/features/22907/hyundai-i30-fastback-n-versus-the-col-de-turini
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019