Fiat today confirmed the Abarth will start at $41,990, with sharp introductory pricing meaning you could buy the turbocharged two-seater for $43,500 driveaway, in six-speed manual spec.
That’s thousands less than early speculation had suggested for the Mazda-built Abarth – but also thousands more than the most affordable MX-5s, including the 1.5-litre base model ($31,990) and the entry-level 2.0-litre ($34,490). The most expensive MX-5 starts at $39,550 for the 2.0-litre GT with a six-speed manual.
However Fiat is hoping the temptation of a more powerful turbocharged engine and greater standard specification will lure buyers to its new performance flagship.
Where the range-topping Mazda uses a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder to produce 118kW/200Nm, the 124 Spider boasts an extra 7kW and 50Nm from its 1.4-litre turbo engine. Official outputs are 125kW at 5500rpm and 250Nm at 2500rpm, pushing the Abarth from 0-100km/h in 6.8sec, half a second quicker than the fastest MX-5.
There’s also firmer suspension with Bilstein dampers, larger four-pot Brembo brakes and a standard limited-slip differential, all of which combine to make the Abarth feel racier and more focused.
Wheels flew to Japan last week for an exclusive first drive of the Abarth.
The Abarth also has more standard equipment than the Mazda, including a reversing camera, which isn’t available on any MX-5.
Fiat will also offer the first 100 Abarths sold in Australia with a commemorative Launch Edition pack at no extra cost. These models gain contrasting bumpers, mirror caps and tow-hook covers, plus a numbered plaque in the cabin.
Where the Abarth loses ground to the Mazda is weight. Its slightly larger dimensions (which boosts boot space by 10 litres), means the manual version hits the scales at 1060kg, which is 27kg more than the equivalent 2.0 MX-5.
And the entry-level MX-5 1.5-litre Roadster, which is a full $10,000 cheaper than the Abarth, weighs even less at 1009kg.
Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.
Want free access to 5 years of Wheels archive content? Sign up now!