Skip advert
Advertisement

Abarth 124 Spider (2016-2019) – ride and handling

More composed than its MX-5 and Fiat 124 relatives, but lacks the breadth of ability found in a GT86

Evo rating
  • Lots of fun, accessible performance, engaging character
  • Quite expensive, steering lacks feedback

We noticed it on first acquaintance abroad, and noticed it again having driven the car in the UK: the Abarth 124 definitely seems to have a stiffer structure than the Mazda MX-5 on which it’s based. Not so stiff that cabin shimmy has been eliminated – you’ll still feel wobbles over harsh surfaces – but it’s a welcome improvement nevertheless.

Advertisement - Article continues below

As is the slight reduction in roll, though again this hasn’t been entirely curtailed, and the 124 still adopts some amusing body angles in corners. Well, slightly frustrating angles actually, as the roll results in a slightly vague response to inputs. Given the steering delivers little information from the road to your fingertips it means there’s always some guesswork involved when turning into corners, particularly if the surface is slippery.

That’s not to say the handling isn’t still a lot of fun. Get your turn-in right and the extra torque of the turbocharged engine gives you more throttle adjustability, more of the time than that of the MX-5. Turn off the traction control, which does allow a degree of slip, and you’ll still need plenty of throttle to break traction, but the lack of chassis feedback means you notice the onset of oversteer through visual cues rather than through your hands. Thankfully the steering is quick and light, so dialling in corrective lock is easy.

Sport mode doesn’t significantly alter the feel of the car, but the quicker throttle response at lower throttle openings, and the slightly weightier steering are different enough to warrant them being your default setting on a spirited drive.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Volkswagen Golf R Mk8.5 prototype review – a return to form or another disappointment?
Volkswagen Golf R prototype – front
Reviews

Volkswagen Golf R Mk8.5 prototype review – a return to form or another disappointment?

The Mk8 Golf R has never really wowed us, but can the Mk8.5 change that? A drive in a prototype version provides some clues
11 Jun 2024
The new Alpine A290 sounds like the electric hot hatch we’ve been waiting for
Alpine A290 – front
News

The new Alpine A290 sounds like the electric hot hatch we’ve been waiting for

We’ve seen the concept, driven a prototype, and now Alpine has unveiled its A290 hot hatch in its final form
13 Jun 2024
The BMW M2 gets more power, design tweaks and retains its manual gearbox
2024 BMW M2 facelift
News

The BMW M2 gets more power, design tweaks and retains its manual gearbox

BMW’s baby M car has gained more power for 2024, along with an updated design, new interior tech and chassis upgrades
12 Jun 2024