'Our' 124 was certainly thoroughly tested, clocking up more than 6,000 miles in five months and returning to Abarth with good chunk more than 15k on it. Bear in mind that the next highest mileage example in the classifieds has 5,000 miles and you can see that RO17 DVK really is one of a kind.
To mark its departure, I wanted to do something meaningful with the Abarth because, despite its flaws, it had been an enjoyable companion over the past few months. Sadly Ace Cafe's Italian Night didn't quite go to plan, the attendance registering eight by the time we left with five of those being Abarth 500s. And two being Abarth Puntos. And then the 124... Presumably all the Enzos, Diablos and Zondas arrived later.
While the Spider's issues won't be ignored, it's worth stating that the majority of my Abarth memories are fond ones; crucially, too, they are from aspects of the car not shared with the MX-5. I loved that people were interested in the 124, that it was rare and largely unknown to a lot of people. Every person who tried to guess the price assumed it was higher. The bold details meant it would grab the attention in a way no MX-5 would have, and that would surely help justify the price premium. And while the noise wasn't exactly to my taste, the brazen nature of its racket was oddly appealing - it was apologising to nobody for being a loud and proud Italian sports car.
Of course, this was combined with so much of what was good about the MX-5, including an intuitive interior, that fabulously simple roof, and a slender kerbweight. Aside from that one electrical glitch, the interior functioned perfectly (and the heated seats were great), although I must say one thing to Mazda, to Fiat, to everybody: please, can you add reach adjustment to the wheel? Please. It would make a sometimes awkward driving position (because the car is so small) into something far more accommodating. Surely it can't add that much weight?
Where does that leave the Abarth as a long-term prospect? In a more positive position than after the initial road test, that's for sure. It's a shame that it's not dynamically better sorted, certainly, although aftermarket solutions must be on the way if they're not already. Don't forget, too, that the Scorpione model offers the Abarth package at less money (and in just one paint colour). At a bit more than £25,000 instead of over £30k it makes a great deal more sense, more exclusive and more entertaining than an MX-5 while also being the only other rear-wheel drive alternative for the money. Ultimate purists will prefer the dynamic finesse of a GT86, but the Abarth has an awful lot going for it - even in winter - that hasn't arisen simply from plonking a scorpion badge on a Mazda. With a touch more polish to a few key areas it has the potential to be brilliant.
Car: 2017 Abarth 124 Spider
On fleet since: August 2017
Mileage: 15,488 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:Britain’s highest mileage 124 heads home!
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
Abarth proving fun on mundane journeys over Christmas