Surprise surprise I’m a sucker for a rear wheel drive pocket rocket, who isn’t? But when that special little sporty number is adorned in carbon fibre and has an Abarth badge, then you’ve got my undivided attention.
OK so we know Abarth makes a Fiat faster and this car is no different. However this Abarth Spider 124 GT is actually based on the MX5. Music to my ears for obvious reasons. There are a few differences though, whereas the MX5 has a naturally asperated engine the Spider is turbo charged (and there’s nothing quite like the added omph of a turbo – which is why I’m fitting one on my MX5). It might only be a single turbo on a modest 1.4 litre engine but combine that with the fact the car weighs just over a ton the torque gains are impressive. Equally this car has the snappy gearbox, responsive stearing and it’s the perfect size too. The suspension is different – stiffer, which I personally like. I think this makes the drive feel edgy, I would always opt for sports suspension above anything too soft.
All of the above means this sporty roadster is agile, perky, easy to manoeuvre around the city and the figure hugging leather sports seats ensure comfort on long journeys too. Combine that with the Record Monza exhaust the whole experience begins to appeal to my inner boy racer. This car drives and sounds like a potential Asbo dressed up for dinner on the nicer side of town. I like that.
It goes without saying that the Abarth Spider is a very pretty car, I found myself looking back at it several times when I parked it up. The combination of that roadster profile, carbon fibre hardtop and the colour works incredibly well. No car ever looks bad in grey. That’s a fact.
The interior is a very nice place to be, my car still has manual window winders so I always feel spoiled by anything electric. The touchscreen and sound system was fine – I like the speakers in the seats and overall I was happy in there. I love the fact this car has a manual handbrake – I cannot get on with anything other than that, it’s not necessary and confuses those of us who are used to driving classic customs. So boxes ticked all round.
I shouldn’t compare this to the Abarth 695C Rivale I tested because it’s a different market, however I still find my self doing so. The reason being, I did not expect the 695C to be such a hoon. Whereas with a roadster you expect performance, so although it’s bloody lovely, it’s not that surprising. The Spider certainly grew on me and I was sad to see it go, but not as sad as when I had to give back the 695C. I prefer more aggressive styling so visually the Spider appeals to me, but the driving experience of the little Rivale won my heart by slapping me round the face. So tough love won this time.
Photos taken on my Huawei P20 Pro by me.