The Grand Tour

Why Richard Hammond Prefers the Fiat Abarth 124 Spider

We kick things off on this week’s episode of The Grand Tour with a brief look at the two-seater sports car, the Fiat Abarth 124 Spider.

Fiat themselves are mostly known for the Fiat 500, the small retro hatchback. But as Richard Hammond points out, after an absence of more than a decade, they are now back in the sports car game.

They’ve named it the 124 Spider in honour of their rear-wheel drive roadster from the 70’s, but under the skin, the Spider is based on the all-new Mazda MX-5.

Fiat provide the Abarth 124 Spider with the engine and the body, but the 124 Spider and the MX-5 are both built under the same roof on the same production line in Japan.

So is it a Fiat or an Abarth?

Abarth is a racing car and road car maker founded by Carlo Abarth in 1949, and Abarth is a fully owned subsidiary of Fiat Automobiles. So with the Abarth 124 Spider, as Richard puts it, Abarth are the “go to” people when Fiat want to give what is already there some extra zest.

Richard Hammond has one question he would like answering on this week’s episode – is the Abarth 124 Spider a sports car in its own right, or is it simply an MX-5 with a different badge on it?

For starters, Abarth has tuned the 1.4 litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine so that it’s faster than any MX-5.

The 0-62mph time is 6.8sec with a top speed of 145mph. Not bad then for a car that has 170bhp.

In comparison, the Mazda MX-5 which weighs 60kg less than the 124 Spider at 1000kg takes 7.3sec to get from 0-62mph. So not an awful lot in it.

The 124 Spider does have, let’s just put it bluntly, some negativity about it, and I am talking the price. That price is £30,000. That’s £5,000 more than the top MX-5.

But with that being said, Hammond would opt for the 124 Spider over the MX-5 any day, despite the fact the Spider doesn’t do a fantastic job around the Eboladrome test track…

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