I bought the Abarth 124 because I always wanted a roadster that looked stylish, had reasonable performance and was fun to drive. Basically, a well-packaged sportster. I checked out others, but none fit the way the Abarth 124 Spider did. They were either too expensive or didn’t have what it took – the wow factor!
It was by accident that I happened to read about the Abarth 124 Spider. I was impressed with the stylish looks and overall package this vehicle offered along with a reasonable price tag. So? I bought one, and two weeks later this is what I think.
I am 6ft tall and fit in there just nicely – any taller may be a struggle. It is a fun to drive roadster and a head-turner as well. The vehicle is nicely appointed with a nine-speaker plus subwoofer Bose sound system, along with speakers in the headrests. Adjust the speaker settings more to the headrest and it is a blast of a sound system to listen to. No issues hearing it whatsoever, even with wind noise.
The infotainment screen on the dash is a little user-unfriendly to navigate and could be improved on, though there are dials on the console helping a little with that. I think having the average fuel-economy display integrated into the infotainment screen is nice. The vehicle is not short of options, but I won’t bore you with them and suggest you read through the specs.
So, what’s it like to drive? I admit I was at first taken aback with only a 1.4-litre turbo engine, but felt it might be adequate given the power-to-weight ratio. It does not disappoint, though, with adequate power through the mid-range, but soon dies down leaving you a little flat and changing gears sooner than I would have in my previous car.
The 124 motor likes to rev, and anything below 2000rpm is a little lazy in getting the kick up. Bottom line: get the revs and gear change right, and you’ll be moving along without any issues at all. It just takes a little getting used to.
I find the gear changes between first to second and down from fourth to third gears is met with a little resistance at times, and needing a slight rev and a push to get in. In a sports car, one would expect to be changing gears quickly without such an issue. Perhaps being new, the gear shift needing wearing in a little?
I love how easy the clutch is to use, the brakes pull up the vehicle nicely, the steering is direct and it takes you exactly where you want to go – even more so on the Sports-mode setting, where it is even more direct. The ride is nice and smooth taking any bumps and crappy roads in its stride. In Sports mode it’s still nice and smooth, but firmer and with less roll, making it fun to drive in the hills along with a throatier sound from the Monza quad pipes. It could be a little firmer in Sports mode to get a better feel for the road under you. As is, it makes me feel a little uncomfortable wanting to push it harder around the curves.
I love the way the roof folds down easily. While driving more than 100km/h, I noticed the wind catches the fabric from the side and makes it flutter. The only way to stop that is to wind the side window up halfway.
If you are ever looking for the auxiliary socket, it is hidden all the way back under the passenger console. That’s a strange place to put it. The seats are firm, snug and reasonably comfortable, but there are times it gives me lower back aches after some hours of driving. I’ve read this being an issue with other people also. There will always be little things one can find or pick on in any car, including expensive luxury vehicles.
In all? I enjoy driving this vehicle, and it is also economical at an average of 6.5–7.2L/100km with spirited driving. Would I recommend it. Hell yes!