Fiat’s engaging top-down roadster

Fiat Abarth 124 Spider

The Fiat Abarth 124 Spider is something of a mongrel, says Will Dron in The Sunday Times. When Fiat decided it wanted to introduce its first two-seater sports car since the Barchetta of the 1990s, it did a deal with Mazda so it could use the chassis from its new MX-5 sports car. It then clothed that chassis in a new bespoke bodyshell and dropped a 1.4-litre Fiat engine under the bonnet.

Most pundits agreed the result was “a little lukewarm and disappointing”. Abarth, Fiat’s high-performance tuning division, has changed all that. The car is now more powerful and dramatic. It’s less supple and more aggressive than the MX-5, but “comfortable enough to be a daily driver, and through tight and twisty turns the car comes into its own, staying level and composed yet pointy and engaging”.

The secret of the MX-5’s success is its “carefully balanced formula for top-down driving fun”, and it would have been all too easy for Abarth’s tuning to upset this, says Antony Ingram in AutoExpress. But it has actually done a great job, building on Mazda’s success. This is “arguably the best ‘MX-5’ yet”. The steering lacks feel, but “once you’re keyed in to the Spider’s ways”, you’ll have a great time driving it.

The “sweetly balanced chassis” is as sweet as it always was, but “the extra torque means it’s even more exploitable… You’ll quickly start to push harder, get on the throttle earlier and feel the chassis moving around beneath you” and the car “feels fun to drive even at low speeds”. More than £5,000 more fun than the MX-5? Possibly not, says Will Beaumont in Evo. But the Abarth will be a rarer sight on the road and the heritage of the badge goes some way towards justifying the price.

Price: £29,565
Engine: 1.4-litre, four cylinder, turbo petrol
Power: 168bhp
0-62mph: 6.8 seconds
Top speed: 144mph


Claim 12 issues of MoneyWeek (plus much more) for just £12!

Let MoneyWeek show you how to profit, whatever the outcome of the upcoming general election.

Start your no-obligation trial today and get up to speed on:

  • The latest shifts in the economy…
  • The ongoing Brexit negotiations…
  • The new tax rules…
  • Trump’s protectionist policies…

Plus lots more.

We’ll show you what it all means for your money.

Plus, the moment you begin your trial, we’ll rush you over THREE free investment reports:

‘How to escape the most hated tax in Britain’: Inheritance tax hits many unsuspecting families. Our report tells how to pass on up to £2m of your money to your family without the taxman getting a look in.

‘How to profit from a Trump presidency’: The election of Donald Trump was a watershed moment for the US economy. This report details the sectors our analysts think will boom from Trump’s premiership, and gives specific investments you can buy to profit.

‘Best shares to watch in 2017’: Includes the transcript from our roundtable panel of investment professionals – and 12 tips they’re currently tipping. The report also analyses key assets, including property, oil and the countries whose stock markets currently offer the most value.