The Fiat 124 Spider and ND Mazda Miata share the same platform and are made on the same production line as each other. For that reason you might expect them to be equals in regards to driving enjoyment, but according to Car & Driver, that’s not the case.
The publication recently took both a 124 Spider Abarth and Mazda Miata Club on a short road trip to find out which is best. They preferred the Mazda to the Fiat, mainly due to the Mazda’s responsive 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The Abarth’s 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, while more powerful than the Miata’s 2.0-liter, is a “a lag-filled look at the pitfalls of turbocharging,” C&D said.
The Abarth also lost points for its six-speed manual gearbox. The unit used in the 124 is actually the same used in the previous-gen Miata, which better copes with the added torque of the turbo engine. The pitfall is that the clutch bites more abruptly and the clutch pedal requires more leg strength.
Read what else C&D had to say about the two similar sportscars at this link.