Other than their basic layouts, there isn't an awful lot Abarth's 124 Spider and a BMW M3 have in common. You can now add a carbonfibre roof to the list, however. To get it you'll need to order this new 'GT' version, which with lightweight OZ Racing wheels (saving 4kg per corner) sounds like it has makings of a sub-ton turbocharged riot of a weekend car.
In reality, the GT is little more than a stylish nod to the Abarth-fettled Group 4 works competition cars that competed in the World Rally Championship in the 1970s, many of which used black fibreglass tops. This contemporary tribute is lined, has a defroster for the rear window and is secured with five bolts, though Abarth is yet to confirm whether it will supply a hex key.
There are, alas, no mechanical changes - not even so much as subtle tweak to the suspension geometry - to a characterful device whose variable strengths and foibles we're already intimately familiar with. Questioned as to why the 1.4-litre MultiAir hasn't at least had the wick on its turbocharger turned up, Fiat execs mumbled something about 'saving that for the facelift'. Not that the 124 isn't already adequately quick - it is, and particularly through the mid-range. It's just that to properly indulge in its rear-driven balance you have to peddle the thing quite hard, and getting into that window would less frantic an endeavour were you to have, say, 190hp at your disposal. Watch this space.
The press material at the launch location in Bavaria also talks excitedly of improvements to torsional rigidity. Abarth must think we'll all blessed with the skills of synaptic appraisal enjoyed by Matt Becker, because if the body's generous levels of flex have been mitigated by the new roof, the benefits are nigh-on undetectable. Barring the odd squeak from the roof (that torsional rigidity at work...) refinement is decent, mind, and at an indicated 149mph on the autobahn conversation with a passenger was no strain.
This car has a dirty secret, though, and it's that the standard folding roof still lurks beneath the rear deck. That's right. Despite using a composite roof that weighs a paltry 16kg - and looks pretty fabulous, it must be said - this GT version is actually heavier than the standard Abarth 124, which sullies the message somewhat. It's the first car we can think of that comes with two roofs as standard.
Cost? Well, this roof is a sizeable carbonfibre option on an Italian sports car, which would normally have us perusing the price lists though our fingers. British figures are yet to announced, but in Germany the GT is roughly a tenth more expensive than the standard car. That means £33,000 over here, which is a lot. A Mazda MX-5 RF in top-spec Sport Nav costs only £26,195 by comparison and is the purer steer. How much, then, do you want that fancy roof?
ABARTH 124 SPIDER
Engine: 1,368cc, turbocharged inline-four
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 172@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 184@
Top speed: 144mph
MPG: 44.1 (NEDC combined)
Price: £33,000 (TBC)