In-depth reviews

Abarth 124 Spider review – performance and 0-60mph time

Flawed but boisterous; fun and with plenty of character, its problem is a lack of finesse and its dreary engine

Evo rating
Price
from £29,565

Performance and 0-60mph time

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.

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.

Most Popular

Prodrive P25 teased – continuation Subaru Impreza WRX STI on its way
P25 teaser
Subaru

Prodrive P25 teased – continuation Subaru Impreza WRX STI on its way

Maker of the P1 and a key facilitator of Subaru’s rally heritage, Prodrive is working on a very special new project
19 May 2022
BMW M4 Competition v Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
BMW M4 Competition v Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Coupes

BMW M4 Competition v Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

With 760bhp, the latest Shelby GT500 is Ford’s fruitiest Mustang ever, and it’s got chassis chops to match. But can it get the measure of BMW’s new M4…
21 May 2022
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe is the most expensive car in the world
Mercedes 300 SLR – side
Mercedes

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe is the most expensive car in the world

One of two 300 SLR Uhlenhauts has been sold from Merc’s own collection for £114,000,000
20 May 2022