But never mind that for the moment; what about the performance and the noise? The noise is certainly befitting of the badge, the 124's little 1.4 gurgling, howling and popping at lower speeds, if never building to quite the crescendo you'd like at full chat. The performance is decent rather than outstanding, with Normal mode accentuating the 124's turbo lag but sharper-throttled Sport making it feel pleasingly urgent.
Even so, it never quite feels as fast as Abarth's pedigree suggests it should when pushed hard, and an official 0-62mph time of 6.8sec and 143mph top speed tell you just that. In reality, it's brisk but never outright rapid. Nevertheless, its short-throw, six-speed manual gearbox has one of the sweetest actions going, and with its turbocharging comes good mid-range flexibility and more frequent cog-swapping enjoyment.
And the fact that this Abarth is hardly any quicker than a 2.0-litre MX-5 becomes all the more bearable considering its chassis. The Abarth rides very well most of the time and doesn't allow the same level of lateral body movement as the MX-5. This, coupled with linear, precise steering, makes for a thoroughly enjoyable driver's car. With Sport switched on and the traction control switched off, it allows for the sort of predictable low-speed, throttle-on adjustability that's nigh on perfect on UK roads.
In fact, the only real downside is refinement. There's quite a bit of buzz about the place under load and - like the MX-5, in fairness - while the manual cloth roof is splendidly easy to open and close, it doesn't do a very good job of keeping road and wind roar at bay when in place. You'll be turning the radio up and raising your voice on the motorway here.
Abarth has done a fine job with the 124's chassis, but it's fair to say Mazda's heavy influence on its cabin is a good thing. As such, its surfaces and buttons look and feel the part and the standard 7.0in colour touchscreen - which can also be controlled via a centrally mounted rotary dial - is one of the best anywhere. Abarth's seats provide good lateral support, too, and its (annoyingly only rake-adjusting) steering wheel, lashings of Alcantara and numbered plaque manage to maintain the air of quality and exclusivity.
Like any other 124, the Abarth seats two adults with ease and provides just enough storage to keep phones and keys from ricocheting about the cabin, if not much else. Behind sits a 140-litre boot no smaller than the standard car'; it will realistically take a couple of weekend bags, but that's about your lot.