Katsu or Polpette: Comparing the Mazda Miata MX5 and Abarth 124

Photos: Fahim Nafis

If the quest is seeking for a roadster easy on the pocket and fun to drive, the thought of a MX5 nibbles through every car enthusiast's mind but, after the introduction of the ND Miata chassis in 2016, along the line, a new competitor has joined the market.

The Abarth 124 (cento ventiquattro) is the new topless Scorpion badged car from Italy, offering quite a package on similar cash. But the question is, which one is the better car and gives you more value for your money? Keep reading to find out.

Keeping up with hairdressers and scorpions

The Miata has always been the answer to a lot of enthusiasts when it comes to a fun sports car while having the option to go topless. The ND chassis is no surprise. Keeping up with the smiling front-ends known from Mazda, the headlights contribute to give a meaner look too, making it look even cuter, sort of like when a baby gets angry. On the Fiat side of things, the car gives off an angrier vibe as the larger grille and bumper contribute to the sportier look. The lines on the car are not overly dramatic as you would expect from an Italian manufacturer but it has enough design cues to let you know it had its fair share of pasta sauce. Step inside in either of the cars, and you will immediately notice that there is not much difference other than some trim bits here and there between both the cars. Both cars provide leather and Alcantara Recaro seats and an Alcantara dash. The reason that both of these cars are so similar is that; both come from the same plant. Yes, Mazda lent a hand to Fiat to manufacture the 124. Both the cars sport the same chassis but the main differences start to spawn when we go under the bonnet. Overall, the MX5 is simpler looking and rounder in the front than the 124 due to more puffed up fenders but either way, both cars go straight to one point. Being a fun sports car where you can open the top, perhaps on a fun, sunny evening.

Things take a turn.

When the MX5 and 124 came out in 2016, there was only one engine option. A 1.5L naturally aspirated engine was good enough and it was a direct competitor to the 1.4L turbocharged Abarth engine. The Abarth had an upper hand sporting about 168 bhp and the MX5 had 129 bhp which was very less compared to the Italian car. Although things do take a turn after two years, in 2018, a 2L version was introduced with 181 bhp under its belt. The Abarth also is missing Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and few key features such as forward and reverse autonomous emergency braking, traffic-sign recognition and reach-adjustable steering wheel. The 124 does, however, have sportier Bilstein suspension and Brembo brakes.


If the Abarth 124 had the features that the MX5 has, it just could be considered a turbo MX5 with a different badge, feature-wise. Although the turbo engine from the 124 sounds a lot more dramatic than the NA Mazda engine, the smoother revving nature and the higher displacement makes the cut. With the price being lower on the Mazda and having more features in the vehicle, no wonder the Mazda is the more popular option within the two. Thus, the saying "Miata is always the answer" holds its value.


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