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Abarth's 124 Spider is here, and there's a 300bhp rally version
The Abarth 124 makes its debut at Geneva, and there will be slidey rally goodness
This, ladies and gents, is the Abarth 124 Spider. It’s the more fun-focused version of Fiat’s Spider of the same name, which is what you’d hope for from the Italians’ performance offshoot.
The jump in performance isn’t as great as in Abarth’s hot hatch models, which typically more than double the power of their 500 base car, rather it exhibits detail improvements over the Fiat 124.
So its 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine rises from 138 to 178bhp, there’s more focused suspension and a limited slip-differential is fitted.
There will be manual and automatic transmission options, both with six speeds, but if you’re really into the car’s lightweight, rear-drive ethos, you’ll want to be operating the manual’s stubby little lever.
Abarth’s 124 should also do much to soothe the woes of anyone who thought the Fiat iteration looked too meek. Slightly more blistered arches, dark finish alloys and that standard two-tone treatment all ensure it snarls that bit more.
And if you know the Abarth 124 Spider of the 1970s, you’ll feel right at home here, with its black bonnet and bootlid replicated in matt, and scorpion badges aplenty.
Meanwhile, there’s just one spec. You can choose from five colours (red, grey, white, black and blue), and option sat-nav. Everything else is standard.
It ought to be too, because at £29,500 in the UK, the Abarth is not a cheap car. But it is a quick one: 0-62mph is quoted as 6.8 seconds.
Still not convinced? Allow us to point you to the 124 Rally, pictured in red and yellow. It bins the 1.4-litre engine for a direct injection 1.8 turbo, with a healthy 296bhp. The suspension is hardened further (and is four-way adjustable), weight has been trimmed where possible, and the engine is pushed right back behind the front axle.
The 124 Spider name has rallying heritage, and Abarth is surfing it unashamedly. And with spotlights like that, we’re inclined to let it.
“The project was developed to ensure reliability and performance, even in the extreme conditions typical of rallies: ice, dirt, dust, water, heat,” says Abarth.
It wants to bring proper powersliding back to rallying, and is promising a motorsport debut for the 124 in 2017. It’s been built to R-GT specifications, and is very much rear-wheel drive. Abarth says it wants more oversteer in rallying. There’s a cause Top Gear can get behind. It’ll set you back around €150,000, if you’ve got a private racing team and fancy a slide.