Turin’s preference for comparatively high sticker prices certainly does not abate in the Abarth, and the fact that the car (like its siblings) is built in Japan is unlikely to encourage any future slashing of the £29,565 starting cost.
To its credit, the new model’s additional features and its idiosyncratic performance do a better job of distancing the Abarth from the MX-5 than its Fiat sibling, although the slower Mazda is equally well equipped.
In terms of running costs, there isn’t a spectacular amount of difference between the two. Turbocharging and a smaller-capacity engine mean the Abarth emits 148g/km to the Mazda’s 161g/km, which (under April’s new VED scheme) translates into a £300 saving in the first year for the Abarth owner – but after that, you’ll pay the £140 standard rate on both.
The 124 marginally wins out for official combined fuel economy, too: its maker claims 44.1mpg to Mazda’s 40.9mpg. With True MPG testing unavailable, we recorded an admirable 45.2mpg at a steady cruise and 35.4mpg over the full test.