RE: Abarth 124 Spider: PH Fleet

RE: Abarth 124 Spider: PH Fleet

Thursday 25th January

Abarth 124 Spider: PH Fleet

Abarth worked brilliantly as Christmas transport no matter the weather!



With the Abarth soon set to depart from the PH fleet, various members of the team have been scrabbling for the keys to have one last go in the little roadster. I, on the other hand, was fortunate enough to spend the Christmas break and most of January in it.

During the cold snap over Christmas, the windows froze over, preventing them from dropping the centimetre or two necessary to open the door, and the wing mirrors never managed to completely defrost, leaving the centre completely frozen. Luckily, though, I never experienced any of the technological gremlins that Matt spoke about in his last update, although the infotainment system did get a little confused, refusing to output a voice call to the headrest speakers whilst Waze continued to blurt out directions through the door units.


Driving out through the Surrey hills on a quiet morning, those foibles cease to matter. The car keeps you entertained, scrabbling for grip on its skinny tyres, the exhaust pops and bangs on the over run and the sense of speed is enhanced by your low seating position, with only what is really needed to hand. On which point, I fully agree with Matt that the interior in the 124 is functional and snug, but I can't get over the fact that Abarth decided that Alcantara would be better suited to the dashboard than parts of the steering wheel...

And that idea of going for an early drive in the Abarth is great, until you need to start up on a quiet street. The noise that comes from the Monza exhaust somewhat reminiscent of a yacht idling at its berth, just burbling away. In an ideal world, the exhaust system would be connected to the Sport button so that the full baritone notes are unleashed only in conjunction with the improved throttle response, allowing Normal to keep the exhaust muted to a more sociable level.

All in all, this may seem a somewhat negative reflection for a car we've so enjoyed, but the fact is that so much pleasure can be derived from driving the Abarth, even on mundane journeys, that the little niggles are what start to really play on the mind. Despite those minor irritations, however, the Abarth is certainly a car that will be remembered fondly once it's gone back.


FACT SHEET
Car:
 2017 Abarth 124 Spider
On fleet since: August 2017
Mileage: 15,367 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: Abarth providing fun on mundane journeys over Christmas

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
Electrical gremlins starting to emerge in the little Abarth

 

 

 

 

Dynamic photos: Will Williams

 

Author
Discussion

paulyv

Original Poster:

498 posts

55 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
See you in 3 years Abarth.

tim milne

240 posts

165 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
I've just got one of these (same colour) and I can't believe how much I love it. The seating position is great, the steering is lightening-quick, the gear shift is exquisitely mechanical and the interior feels special with its flashes of alcantara and its Ferrari-mocking central red rev-counter. On top of all this, it just has bags of character that makes it fun at any speed.

In comparison, its predecessor, a Golf R, to which I grew a kind of grudging affection towards, always felt like the result of a million meetings where everything was just as good as it needed to be, rather than exceptionally good or bad.

Of course, the Golf R — and indeed, any Golf — is the car you have when you can only have one car; it is defined by this purpose of compromise. But, I've replaced it with a gloriously impractical two-seater and 1995 Volvo 850 Estate (£350) to lug around all the bulky stuff. The best thing about having both is that each one makes the other feel special on its own terms and so neither ever gets boring — something you can't enjoy with just one Golf.

3yardy3

84 posts

46 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
"During the cold snap over Christmas, the windows froze over, preventing them from dropping the centimetre or two necessary to open the door"

My hard top 335i does this... its a right pain when it freeze

Reeves_and_Mortimer

21 posts

14 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
I've just got one of these as well (in Black) and it will replace my Skoda Octavia vRS 230, so similar to the guy with the Golf R, it's replacing a very capable, practical car. Got a great deal on a lease and it feels much more than special than its 1.4 litre 170bhp would suggest. The noise it makes is incredible and whilst there are so few about on the roads right now (only seen two others), no-one knows what it is, so it probably appears much more exotic than it really is! it's a bit tricky to get in, for a 6ft plus-er, but once you're in, it's comfortable and great to drive. Just need some decent weather now!!!

stuckmojo

1,921 posts

120 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
I really like those. They look very pretty in the metal.
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Matt Bird

993 posts

137 months

PH Reportery Lad

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
Glad to hear those of you just picking 124s up are enjoying them! Will be really quite sad to see this one go...

M1C

1,045 posts

43 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
I'm really warming to these now.

I still think the MX5 is a nicer looking car....but when i stop thinking of the 124 as looking like a poorly proportioned copy of a previous model MX5 (which i still think it does)....and change to think of it as being 'it's own car'....it makes a lot more sense.

I gather they are also a bit bigger inside than the current MX5? At 6ft 2...these things matter.

lockhart flawse

1,556 posts

167 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
after 14 years in a TVR I feel like a change and quite fancy one of these.

RenesisEvo

3,062 posts

151 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
tim milne said:
I've just got one of these (same colour)
Can I ask, did you try the MX-5 at all? And if so, what made you (or any other buyer reading this) choose the Abarth over the Mazda? I'm just curious, no preference or bias.

Article said:
I can't get over the fact that Abarth decided that Alcantara would be better suited to the dashboard than parts of the steering wheel...
Having lived with an all-Alcantara steering wheel for 18 months, I'd much rather have leather. It feels great for the first 20 minutes, it feels pretty weird and unpleasant after a few hours. Best if you plan to only use gloves (it's another 'because race car' long since distanced from its raison d'etre).

Regiment

2,652 posts

91 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
Lovely looking car, much nicer looking than the MX5. Would definitely consider one if I was a foot shorter.

tim milne

240 posts

165 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
RenesisEvo said:
tim milne said:
I've just got one of these (same colour)
Can I ask, did you try the MX-5 at all? And if so, what made you (or any other buyer reading this) choose the Abarth over the Mazda? I'm just curious, no preference or bias.
I didn't try the MX5, to be honest, mainly because I can't stand the looks of the latest version. I'd have to learn how to get into it without looking at it, which I think would become a pain after a while.


Edited by tim milne on Thursday 25th January 15:02

GibsonSG

148 posts

43 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
I really fancy having one of those these. My issue is that I’d have this and a NA MX5 then......

ecsrobin

8,877 posts

97 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
GibsonSG said:
I really fancy having one of those these. My issue is that I’d have this and a NA MX5 then......
You could join the discussion here: https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&...rofl

I saw a normal fiat 124 drive past the window today and they certainly stand out compared to the rest driving past.

Someone above mentioned the mx5 vs 124 for the taller driver. The 124 is far more comfortable (I’m 6’3”).

GibsonSG

148 posts

43 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
ecsrobin said:
You could join the discussion here: https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&...
Brilliant! I’d be like a double hairdresser with those two cars! Perhaps I could get a “Sponsored by Grindr” sticker for them!

RushDom

139 posts

26 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
ecsrobin said:
You could join the discussion here: https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&...rofl

I saw a normal fiat 124 drive past the window today and they certainly stand out compared to the rest driving past.

Someone above mentioned the mx5 vs 124 for the taller driver. The 124 is far more comfortable (I’m 6’3”).
Didn't realise the 124 was bigger inside...how is it more comfortable than the MX-5 for you out of interest? More headroom/legroom etc? I'm 6 foot 3 also and considering an MX-5 for my next car, but would certainly look at the 124 as well if this is the case.

I can fit in the soft top MX-5 - it's snug, don't get me wrong, but once I'd been driving for a couple of minutes I got used to it. Couldn't fit in the RF however, the roof was too low!


ecsrobin

8,877 posts

97 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
RushDom said:
ecsrobin said:
You could join the discussion here: https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&...rofl

I saw a normal fiat 124 drive past the window today and they certainly stand out compared to the rest driving past.

Someone above mentioned the mx5 vs 124 for the taller driver. The 124 is far more comfortable (I’m 6’3”).
Didn't realise the 124 was bigger inside...how is it more comfortable than the MX-5 for you out of interest? More headroom/legroom etc? I'm 6 foot 3 also and considering an MX-5 for my next car, but would certainly look at the 124 as well if this is the case.

I can fit in the soft top MX-5 - it's snug, don't get me wrong, but once I'd been driving for a couple of minutes I got used to it. Couldn't fit in the RF however, the roof was too low!
To be fair I’d say just try them both out, as we’re all made slightly different even if we’re both the same height. I also had the same issue with the RF and the low roof.

edwheels

90 posts

78 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
3yardy3 said:
"During the cold snap over Christmas, the windows froze over, preventing them from dropping the centimetre or two necessary to open the door"

My hard top 335i does this... its a right pain when it freeze
So does my Scirocco (frameless doors)... yes, it is a right pain when this happens - closing the door is also a pain too unless the window drops...


Pooh

3,019 posts

185 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
Matt Bird said:
Glad to hear those of you just picking 124s up are enjoying them! Will be really quite sad to see this one go...
Have you tried running it on Vpower? I have had two cars with this engine and I found that Vpower made a significant difference. I also found that it responded well to a good thrashing, I am not sure it was just blowing the crap out of th cats or if the ecu adapts to how it is driven.

s m

16,602 posts

135 months

Thursday 25th January
quotequote all
They had a head to head with the Civic R and Fiat 124 in Autocar this week

Spoonz_

23 posts

65 months

Saturday 27th January
quotequote all
I've had mine for 2 months now and am enjoying the change coming from a string of Hot Hatches. As said above, getting in and out is proving to be a bit tricky.