RE: Abarth 124 Spider: PH Fleet

RE: Abarth 124 Spider: PH Fleet

Friday 22nd December 2017

Abarth 124 Spider: PH Fleet

A couple of niggles aside, life remains pretty sweet with the Spider



Automotive stereotypes take a long time to disappear, don't they? Just recently I recommended a Skoda Yeti to a friend, only to have that suggestion rebuked on grounds of image and perceived quality. This after Skoda has been under VW for more than a quarter of a century. It's similar still with certain members of the general public around Korean cars, and works the other way too: there often remains an automatic assumption that the German option is best, when that certainly isn't always the case.


So I probably shouldn't have been surprised that a few well meaning observers assumed that a Fiat (Abarth would have meant nothing, I'm sure) might be troublesome. Not only is this a brand new car, it is of course derived from Japanese parts. And Japanese cars are definitely still reliable. It's the Alfa Romeo Arna done the right way around - Japanese engineering with Italian passion/excitement/style (delete cliché as appropriate). And while Fiat didn't rank all that well in this year's JD Power survey, it was ahead of Land Rover, Audi and BMW. One of those you might have expected, the other two perhaps not...

So imagine my frustration when the sat-nav froze. Wouldn't do a thing. At a particularly busy bit of the A40. No combination of button bashing could sort it, neither could turning it off and on again, so I eventually had to resort to a hard reset of the infotainment system. The nav - which is typically quite good, actually - was back, but it meant the previous and favourite destinations went, radio presets disappeared and my phone had been forgotten. A pain, in other words.

This after the seatbelt warning buzzer had thrown a wobbly too, telling me rather loudly that an unbelted passenger was next to me. When in fact it was a sandwich and a water bottle. Given the lack of storage space in the Abarth you end up using the seat to chuck stuff on, so to have this intermittent issue is particularly annoying. Perhaps I'll just have to belt up my refreshments in future, and maybe get them in a booster seat to be sure - it has ISOFIX, after all...


I get that our car is more used than most, with nearly 15,000 miles on it now, but that still seems too soon for electrical gremlins - minor though they are - to be manifesting themselves. They are made more irksome because the mechanical package feels better than ever, the turbo engine responding really nicely to the cold air and the gearbox throw sweeter than ever. And it's more skiddy when it's slippery...

In fact the Abarth works quite well as winter wheels. With fairly small windows it doesn't take long to defrost, the snug interior almost feels like you're wearing another layer and having headlights that move with the wheel is handy. I'd like them to be brighter still, but I think that might be as much about harbouring some 124 R-GT rally aspirations than an actual safety concern.

It would be interesting to see how the 124 fares as Christmas transport, however I'm passing that responsibility over to Nik as I'm going to require something a little more capacious for the holidays. With a few months left of the loan in the New Year, I'm hoping to try some different tyres (a friend spoke very highly of a Continental alternative) and compare the Abarth with a regular 124. As always, if there's anything you'd like to see done with the car then let us know!


FACT SHEET
Car:
 2017 Abarth 124 Spider
On fleet since: August 2017
Mileage:14,410 miles (delivered on 8,858)
List price new: £29,565 (As tested £32,210 comprising £600 for Portogallo 1974 Grey paint, £1,250 for Visibility Pack (LED headlights with automatic levelling and washers, Adaptive Front Light System, Dusk-sensing and rain sensitive wipers, rear parking sensors) and £795 for Bose Sound System)
Last month at a glance:Electrical gremlins starting to emerge in the little Abarth

Previous reports
Naughty but nice? A noisy Abarth noses onto the Fleet
Can 124 score 10/10 against 595 and MX-5?
Sliding around Silverstone in the Abarth puts it in Matt's good books

 

 

   

[Source: JD Power]

Author
Discussion

W124

Original Poster:

1,335 posts

69 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
You’ll get that seatbelt thing with loads of modern cars. Volvo’s are a nightmare for it. Amazed you haven’t encountered it before.

I really like that car. Seems a really nice answer to the overpowered, overtyred insanity of most things these days. Can you get it in just one, simple paint colour?

For some reason I find it more desirable than an MX-5 - can’t really explain why.

xjay1337

10,452 posts

49 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
Usually the seatbelt warning can be coded out or unplug the sensor under the seat.

It's a nice car but the cost is very high!

V8 FOU

2,500 posts

78 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
When looking at all the unecessary extras added, I thought, being dyslexic, that it had "Duck sensing" - nearly ordered one on the spot.
Damn only dusk. What a disapointment....

kambites

54,330 posts

152 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
It's a nice enough car, but I really can't see it being worth so much (or indeed any) more than the 2.0 MX5.

Mound Dawg

1,788 posts

105 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
Interesting that it's the Mazda bits causing the problems!

I don't get the seatbelt warning thing in my Fiat 124 and I quite often end up with reasonably heavy stuff on the passenger seat, took a couple of Alfa workshop manuals to someone the other day and they're pretty hefty. You must have heavy sandwiches.

26,500 miles in on mine so far in a bit over a year with no problems yet.
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Kolbenkopp

1,490 posts

82 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
Price wise they're being pretty optimistic, agree. Street prices on the continent start at € 30k, which is still € 6k more than the most expensive MX5 one can possibly find (2.0 RF 'Sports Line').

Don't agree with these niggles being worth mentioning that much though. The seat belt thing unfortunately works as designed, pain in the neck on many new cars. Blame over zealous NCAP points chasing... Easy solution:



The nav unit crashing... Well it's a computer running a big chunk of software. All software has bugs. Big software has more bugs. Most people have a smart phone that can be used as plan B...

As for what to do with the A124 -- I'm not in the market for one unfortunately, but if I was, a part from tyre question (good call!), I'd be interested to see how the engine responds to ECU tuning. Perhaps there's a Marelli box available to keep it in character?

WJNB

1,184 posts

92 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
Sorry but it's still a too tiny little thing with a naff badge for too much money. Such smallness makes you vulnerable & easily overlooked by others on the road.
I thought the previous MX-5 was dumpy but at least its got a bit more spacious inside.

FN2TypeR

5,374 posts

24 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
I'm sorry but that is so, so ugly, what a sad looking machine

Woeful

Spoonz_

23 posts

64 months

Friday 22nd December 2017
quotequote all
I made the brilliant decision to get one of these just in time for Winter.... I've got 600 miles on mine now and am loving it. I also can't believe how toasty it gets in the Cabin despite the sub zero temperatures outside. A vast improvement from some similar convertibles only a few years old.

Tim16V

362 posts

113 months

Saturday 23rd December 2017
quotequote all
A couple of extremely minor glitches in a ragged press car hardly warrants all this.

Obviously it's totally up to the job.

jayemdoubleu

49 posts

21 months

Saturday 23rd December 2017
quotequote all
V8 FOU said:
When looking at all the unecessary extras added, I thought, being dyslexic, that it had "Duck sensing" - nearly ordered one on the spot.
Damn only dusk. What a disapointment....
Duck sensing? You’d have to be quackers boxedin

tim0409

2,131 posts

90 months

Saturday 23rd December 2017
quotequote all
I really like these, especially in black/met grey with brown leather (non Abarth); just need to wait till they depreciate a bit...

HTP99

12,265 posts

71 months

Saturday 23rd December 2017
quotequote all
W124 said:
For some reason I find it more desirable than an MX-5 - can’t really explain why.
Same here, I just can't get on with the styling of the MX5; love the look of these however.

ATM

7,957 posts

150 months

Monday 25th December 2017
quotequote all
I rented a vanilla one for a few days in Italy as it was the most interesting thing I could find on the car hire websites. I found it very laggy. Once up in the revs it went ok but seemed to dislike revving high. I couldn't manage any sliding action but thats possibly due to me not trying too hard and - this just occurred to me - never turning the TC off. This car wore Bridgestone S02 in matching sizes all round. On reflection I should have saved myself the ridiculous expense and got a panda.



RSchneider

60 posts

95 months

Monday 25th December 2017
quotequote all
WJNB said:
Sorry but it's still a too tiny little thing with a naff badge for too much money. Such smallness makes you vulnerable & easily overlooked by others on the road.
I thought the previous MX-5 was dumpy but at least its got a bit more spacious inside.
SUV logic - not being "overlooked". It's a runabout! Not supposed to be huge. It's one of the very few modern cars with a dry weight below 1.000kg and it's wonderfully narrow and has a nicely low belt line. It sure is cosy inside but the trunk is big enough for a long weekend trip through France or Northern Italy. Could use a bit more power from factory, though. 200PS/300Nm can be achieved via a modified ECU.


rbryant

304 posts

172 months

Thursday 28th December 2017
quotequote all
For less money I have an MX5 with the BBR GTI Super 200 kit and slightly lowered springs

That would be an interesting comparison wouldn't it?


sad61t

1,050 posts

141 months

Friday 29th December 2017
quotequote all
W124 said:
.... Can you get it in just one, simple paint colour? ...
The black 'Heritage Look' bonnet/boot is a no cost delete option.

If you get the blue, the mirrors and front air-dam insert are grey.
If you get the red, the mirrors are body colour, and front air-dam insert is grey.

I think there's some wiggle room on the options for the mirror & air-dam colours, but check with the dealer as the FIAT configurator starts chucking random colours on the pictures if you do this.

coppice

4,562 posts

75 months

Saturday 30th December 2017
quotequote all
RSchneider said:
WJNB said:
Sorry but it's still a too tiny little thing with a naff badge for too much money. Such smallness makes you vulnerable & easily overlooked by others on the road.
I thought the previous MX-5 was dumpy but at least its got a bit more spacious inside.
SUV logic - not being "overlooked". It's a runabout! Not supposed to be huge. It's one of the very few modern cars with a dry weight below 1.000kg and it's wonderfully narrow and has a nicely low belt line. It sure is cosy inside but the trunk is big enough for a long weekend trip through France or Northern Italy. Could use a bit more power from factory, though. 200PS/300Nm can be achieved via a modified ECU.
Hear hear- after years of Sevens my MX5 Sport Nav feels positively huge, with massive boot space . Our friend really should go and read something about Colin Chapman or Gordon Murray if he thinks bigger is better - it ain't ! 'Overlooked' ? Doubt it - never felt that in Seven or Mazda .

Lancia888

18 posts

73 months

Saturday 30th December 2017
quotequote all
Got one from work for three days. Just epic! Wish I could afford one, so much fun and a great noise.