Want a sports car that won’t rip your head off? The new two-seater Abarth 124 Spider Roadster is a rear-wheel-drive Fun Machine that drives well and sounds awesome. If you can get over its practical deficiencies, it’s certainly a car to get excited about.
Those practical deficiencies include a small cockpit and a small boot. But let’s face it – we buy cars like this for their raw power and ability to put a massive smile on our face. Even just looking at this car as it sits in your drive is enough to make you grin from ear to ear. For those who are happy with a 0-62 time of 6.8 seconds, it’s a classy choice.
That said, is it better than a Mercedes? OSV finds out with our 2018 Abarth 124 Spider Roadster review.
Overview of the Abarth 124 Spider Roadster
On the Road
Being rear-wheel-drive automatically means that the 124 is going to be a lot of fun to drive. It’s also nice and light, which allows for a thrilling driving experience matched by few others in this sector.
Two of those cars that can match it are the Mazda MX-5 and the Fiat 124 Spider, and this is because all three cars share the same mechanical bits and pieces. However, the Abarth benefits from tweaks to its suspension setup and steering so that it’s even more precise and engaging.
Body lean is kept in check, and while the ride is on the firmer side it never feels too uncomfortable.
There’s lots of grip on offer, and we’re pleased to say that limited slip-differential comes as standard. This helps the car to pick up speed as you emerge from a slow corner, and it will also give you the confidence to be a bit more daring with your driving.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Abarth 124 isn’t intimidating for a sports car. In fact, it’s easy to live with in towns and cities, although if we have one criticism it’s that it can get a bit too noisy at times. Its bombastic exhaust is fine when you’re in the mood, but a bit of a headache when you just want to chill.
In terms of its engines, there’s just the one available. This is a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine that develops 168bhp, and which has a 0-62 time of 6.8 seconds. Buyers can choose to pair it up with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed automatic.
A 0-62 time of 6.8 seconds is miles off Porsche 911 territory but will suit those of you who want a less daunting sports car experience. Moreover, it’s faster than the Mazda and the Fiat by some distance.
Abarth 124 Spider Roadster Interior, Design and Build
This Abarth is a classy two-seater that looks very similar inside to the Mazda MX-5 and the Fiat 124. To properly enjoy it, you do need to be under six feet tall. If you’re taller than that, it’s going to be a struggle when the roof is up.
Although it’s cramped (or snug), the car’s cockpit is beautifully put together and affords you a wonderful view of the road ahead. The pedals are in the perfect position, while the steering wheel is a joy to use.
We like the dashboard too, although it’s identical to the one in the Fiat and Mazda. It also gets the same infotainment system.
The seats are different at least, with this car adding slatted cushions and a scorpion badge on the headrests. In terms of overall quality, meanwhile, the Abarth outdoes a lot of its rivals with the sheer amount of soft-touch plastics.
Is the Abarth 124 Spider Roadster practical? There isn’t more than meets the eye to this one – it’s about as practical as it looks. There are just two seats and space is at a premium for the driver and their passengers. Headroom, in particular, is limited until you drop the roof.
The car lacks a glovebox and storage solutions, in general, are sparse, while it’s easy to bash a cup holder with your elbow.
The boot, meanwhile, measures just 140-litres, comes with a big lip and a narrow opening, and can’t be extended.
Equipment and Safety of the Abarth 124 Spider Roadster
There’s only one trim level available and standard kit is okay. The Abarth 124 comes with climate control, Alcantara upholstery, a digital radio, Bluetooth and cruise control.
The automatic gearbox, meanwhile, cost £1,500 to add, while other options include a 9-speaker Bose stereo and sat-nav.
In terms of how safe the car is, it hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP. Its sibling, the Mazda MX-5, was crash tested and scored 4/5. That’s not too bad, and standard safety kit here includes electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability control, tyre pressure monitoring and anti-lock brakes.
Costs of the Abarth 124 Spider Roadster
Prices for the new car start at £28,826. For more information on our leasing deals, you can check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, there’s just the one petrol engine available. It’s small and the car doesn’t weigh much, all of which contributes to good fuel economy. On a good day, you could return as much as 44mpg, while emissions are as low as 148g/km of CO2 if you stick to the manual gearbox.
Pros and Cons of the Abarth 124 Spider Roadster
With prices starting out from under £30,00, it’s a really accessible sports car.
Easy to drive
It’s not intimidating but you can still have lots of fun.
Once you fire it up, the engine cackles and fizzes and gets you in the mood.
Many sports cars are impractical, but few are this bad. Space is tight when the roof is up and the boot is almost a write-off.
Questions over safety
There are always questions to be asked of sports cars that aren’t tested by Euro NCAP. What weakens the Abarth 124’s case is that the car on which it’s based, the Mazda MX5, was crash tested – and scored 4/5.
Verdict of our 2018 Abarth 124 Spider Roadster Review
This is a riot of a car – and it’s super affordable and accessible. Not as fast or furious as a Porsche Carrera, but still more fun and less expensive than a Mercedes, it’s the ideal sports car for those of you who don’t want to take things to the extreme. The Abarth 124 Spider Roadster looks great, drives well, boasts a classy cabin, and is well worth a shot.
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