Given a picturesque landscape and a liberal dose of sunshine, it’s hard to match that good old fashioned top down wind-in-your-hair thrill that only a roadster can provide. Think the enduring attraction of the Mazda MX-5, the exquisite poise and handling of the Porsche Boxster or the subtle aggression of the BMW Z4, and you have something approaching the perfect top-down motoring package.
Joining these aforementioned favourites is a new addition to roadster fraternity. Positioned squarely at the compact end of the market and with its sights honed in on the pace-setting Mazda, the Abarth 124 Spider has raised the roof on its debut at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.
Developed with input from the Abarth Racing Team, and based on the brand-new incarnation of the Fiat 124 Spider, the slim line and sprightly new Abarth Spider has the hallmarks of an instant compact convertible hit. Propelled by an enhanced version of Fiat’s 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo engine, the pumped-up Abarth gets a 30bhp hike in power compared to its more sedate sister car, raising overall output to 170bhp and 184 lb/ft of torque. The Italian orchestra is conducted by either a six-speed manual or an automatic Sequenziale Sportivo gearbox. Shift speed via the stick or paddles can be further improved with a push of the “Sport” button on the driving mode selector.
Racing from 0-62 mph 6.8-seconds up to a top speed of 143 mph, the Abarth’s brilliance lies in its ingenious super light-weight construction. Tipping the scales at just 1,060kg and centred around a perfectly balanced 50/50 weight distribution, Abarth insists that the 124 Spider’s weight-to-power ratio of 6.2 kg/HP is the best in the business, besting even that of the MX-5.
Of course, the Scorpion badge has always been synonymous with combining exhilarating performance with twinkled-toad agility. The rear-wheel drive 124 Spider’s suspension has been given the full Abarth Racing makeover, with new dampers and stiffened anti-roll bars providing pin-point precise handling and great driving comfort.
Other key additions include new racing Brembo brakes and a Record Monza exhaust equipped as standard, providing your top-down experience with the perfect soundtrack.
The 124’s long, sloping bonnet is punctuated by a pair of muscular humps, harking directly back to the current car’s 1970’s ancestor, the Pininfarina-prepared Fiat 124 Sport Spider. A hexagonal grille sits over the newly styled front bumber, now with an oversized air-intake. This element, as well as the rear aerodynamic extractor, rear spoiler and wind stop was shaped in the wind tunnel, kitting the Abarth 124 Spider out with a comprehensive aero package that’s both efficient and eye-catching. The 17-inch alloy wheels, windscreen surround and roll bars have all been finished in “Forgiato Grey”, contrasting the choice of five body colours offered at launch.
On-board, leather seats, an aluminium pedal board, the small-diameter steering wheel and short gear lever complete a thoroughly refined interior package whilst standard equipment includes manual climate control system, a four speaker stereo, cruise control, and a 7-inch colour display. A premium Bose nine speakers sound system, including dual headrest speakers on both seats can be thrown in for good measure if so desired.
Available in Europe for September 2016, the Abarth 124 Spider can be yours from a shade under £30,000 in the UK. Not a cheap proposition, but is the Abarth input alone enough to turn the heads of at least a few MX-5 devotees?