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What should I be paying?
Here’s where we get to the sticky point. As a small roadster there’s not too much wrong with the Abarth, until you get to the price. It starts at £27,000, with the one you really want approaching £30,000. A top line MX-5, which is just as well equipped and only half a second slower to 62mph, is £23,690.
Now, I’m aware the Abarth will be a rarer sight on the roads, and that the brand is newer and sportier and more exciting, but £30k should get you more car, more quality, more speed, more handling – or if not all, at least some combination of these.
Maybe you don’t plan on buying your car outright, but instead intend to lease. Well it’s the same story – depending on how much you put down in advance, what the lease period is etc, the MX-5 will work out at about 20 per cent less per month. Expect to pay £320-470 per month for the Italian roadster, against £260-350 for the Japanese.
On the positive side, the Abarth’s turbocharged engine is efficient. CO2 emissions of 148g/km put it in tax band F (one below the MX-5, so saving £40 per year), and in a bit of easy mixed driving it will do 37-38mpg, 3-4mpg more than an MX-5. Clog it and the turbo’s thirst will drop that below 30mpg, but on the whole the engine does a good job of keeping its promises.
Couple of spec pitfalls to watch out for. The automatic gearbox is £2,050 and should be avoided like the plague – not only because the manual is a light, simple delight, but because it’ll hit residuals, too. The only standard colour is black, everything else is charged for.