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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
...and I really liked it.

We never drove one back-to-back against the Abarth 124 because my wife (a former NC MX5 owner) was welded onto the idea of owning the Abarth so we simply bought it. But now I've driven the ND, it'd be a tough call to choose between them. It's a vastly nicer car than the NC IMHO.

Pluses against the Abarth...
-The engine is really strong through the entire range...stronger than the numbers suggest, and really linear. I was surprised. Sounds good too.
-The gearbox is even sweeter than the Abarth's.
-Turn in is a bit sharper than the Abarth's

Minuses...
-It doesn't have the Abarth's stonking mid-range (but doesn't have its lag either!) and it doesn't do that nice loping, riding a wave of torque thing that is nice in the Abarth when you don't feel like driving the wheels off it.
-I prefer the Abarth's cabin finish. It feels more special.
-The Abarth's handling feels more dependable and secure with less roll. The MX5 darts into corners with less initial resistance than the Abarth, but then does this thing where you can feel it roll onto the outside rear...and initially it doesn't feel entirely trustworthy. It probably is, but it's easier to get to know and trust the Abarth. The Abarth's setup is slightly more to my taste.
-Abarth looks a bit "more butch" LOL
-Brembos

Honestly though...I think choosing would come down to personal preference. I think the Abarth has more "presence"...but I could entirely understand someone buying the MX5. It's really nice. If I were comparing the softer non-Abarth version to the MX5 though, I think I may be MX5.
 

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I own a 2016 Fiat 124 Spider. Prior to its purchase I drove both the 1.5 litre and 2 litre ND MX 5's available in the UK. Here many of the respected motoring journalists prefer the 1.5. Personally, I didn't. Whilst appreciating the driving rewards arising from utilising the cars maximum performance more of the time, ultimately, I found it lacking performance.

Driving the 2litre sport (brembo calipers and Bilstein shocks) my experience concours with your own. Comparing the Fiats and Mazda's figures (purchase cost, running costs and performance) I decided there wasn't enough in them to influence me one way or the other. So, I let my heart make the decision and bought the Fiat. At £6000 above a 'lusso plus' Fiat Spider the Abarth Spider appeared too expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
In the U.K. the Abarth is too expensive. It's priced at the same price as the MX5 2.0 GT here in Aus. That makes a big difference.
 

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In the U.K. the Abarth is too expensive. It's priced at the same price as the MX5 2.0 GT here in Aus. That makes a big difference.
Yet in the U.S., the upgrade to the Abarth cost barely exceeds the price of the day at Bondurant driving school that FIAT includes with every purchase. It is like you are getting all the other upgrades - Strut supports, Bilstien shocks, upgraded exhaust, sport mode, painted wheels, aluminum pedals, and the other interior and exterior touches for free.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
In Aus the Abarth is the only 124 sold here and it comes standard with Brembos. Leather seats and Recaros are an option as is a Visibility Package that adds LED lights, Blind Spot monitoring and Rear Parking Sensors. It starts at AUD$44k driveaway (USD$33k, GBP27k). Fully loaded with Record Monza added will set you back around $49k driveaway (USD$36.7k, GBP30k). An MX5 2.0 GT is about AUD$44k.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Got to drive one of these today too...

Really nice looking car in the flesh. Looks better in the metal than in photos. Drives pretty much like a rag top MX5 but I think it's a little bit stiffer (still nowhere near Abarth stiff, but less roly-poly than the rag top MX5). Gee it looked good though...

 
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