Can the Ital­ians im­prove on an iconic Ja­panese sports car? Richard Blackburn gives a ver­dict

Herald Sun - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD -


The RRP is about $2500 less than the Abarth but Fiat’s drive-away deal of $43,500 makes it cheaper on the road. There are day­time run­ning lights, sat­nav, pre­mium au­dio with nine speak­ers and heated leather seats. Warranty, as with the 124, is three years but is un­lim­ited, not 100,000km. Ser­vic­ing costs $1371 over three years. Most metal­lic paints are no-cost op­tions.


Curves are in all the right places. The seats are sup­port­ive, while the cabin lay­out is un­clut­tered. The cen­tre dis­play menus are nav­i­gated via a dial rather than touch­screen — ri­vals take note. Red stitch­ing and fake car­bon-fi­bre high­lights lift the mood, as do the air vents re­sem­bling jet en­gine in­takes. Coloured metal in­serts on the doors add a splash of colour. Hand-op­er­ated cloth roof is sim­ple and fast.


The 2.0-litre four-cylin­der revs sweetly and smoothly, work­ing best higher in the rev range. Peak torque comes at 4600rpm and peak power at 6000rpm. It won’t push you back in your seat off the line but find its sweet spot and there’s am­ple urge for spir­ited driv­ing. Mazda claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.3 sec­onds and thirst of 6.9L/100km.


The MX-5 scored five stars in lo­cal ANCAP test­ing with 35.2/37. It gets front and side airbags and tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor but oth­er­wise it is light on for driver as­sist/ crash avoid­ance. Fea­tures avail­able on cheaper Maz­das aren’t even op­tions. Most no­table omis­sion is a re­vers­ing cam­era.


It’s proof you don’t need blis­ter­ing per­for­mance to have fun. The light­weight body, sharp steer­ing, rear-drive and well-sorted sus­pen­sion make it ideal for a tight, twisty coastal road. It may not be as ra­zor-sharp as the 124 on a track but it’s more com­fort­able.

$39,550+ 18pts

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