Thought Abarth's roadster was expensive? This one isn't…
By Sam Sheehan / Thursday, January 14, 2021 / Loading comments
Did you know that the UK is Abarth’s biggest market in the world? You probably could've guessed, given the number of 500s and 595s on the roads. In fact, it’s all to do with Abarth’s take on the city car, because sales of the brand’s other recent offering, the 124 Spider, never really took off. How Many Left reckons there are easily fewer than 2,000 on our roads. By contrast, there are well over 10,000 500s and 595s with Abarth badges, and a few more extreme 695s for good measure. The 124 departed having never really arrived.
Perhaps it was the preceding model’s shortcomings that hampered the launch of Abarth’s much more sorted roadster. The Fiat iteration never really lived up to expectations and by the time we got to the Abarth 124 Spider back in 2017, the buzz had faded. That's a shame, because as Matt noted the Abarth 124 was a marked improvement in every department over its sibling. It had an entirely new character to go with heightened performance and made for something demonstrably more fun.
Yet the sales never really got going. Maybe it was the fact the turbocharged roadster used a 1.4-litre engine; it had 172hp and weighed barely over a tonne, but nobody brags about 1.4 litres when standing at the bar (remember those?). The car’s feathery weight, punchy motor and compelling balance actually combined to make a good thing great. But those wanting a plucky roadster with a 1,000kg kerbweight consistently turned to the closely related Mk4 MX-5.
The Mazda easily undercut the Abarth for price, with the Italian starting from £29,620, £5k more than the MX-5 with the 2.0-litre engine and nine grand more than the 1.5. Stick a few options on and you’d easily find yourself deep into the thirties – for a car that shares its engine with a hatchback. We needn't emphasise the extra performance available in the plus-£30k bracket, especially if you like your cars front driven. Despite its many USPs and genuinely compelling driving dynamics, the Abarth always felt a bit on the expensive side.
But time is a great healer, as shown by today's spotted, the freshest of just four 124 Spiders currently on PH. It’s only just broken into four-figure mileage, yet it’s up for is £19,995 – almost £10k less than the RRP, before options. It’s a 68-reg car, which suggests it’s been on this dealer’s demo fleet since delivery, so it ought to be wearing a few layers of wash and wax despite the inactivity. Plus, the car will still have a few months of manufacturer warranty left. Finally this nearly new Abarth 124 Spider looks like a bargain.
SPECIFICATION | ABARTH 124 SPIDER
Engine: 1,368cc, four-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 170@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 184@2,500rpm
Top speed: 144mph
First registered: 2018
Recorded mileage: 1,000
Price new: £29,620
Price now: £19,995
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