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Battle Of The Convertible Sports Cars: Mazda MX-5 VS Fiat 124 Spider

When it comes to affordable convertible sports cars, there has always been a single king. The Mazda MX-5 since its inception has been seeing as the greatest cheap convertible sports car on the market with no other challenger to match it. That is why so many people buy them on car finance in the UK because they want to experience its fantastic drive at a low monthly cost.

However, now there is a challenger with a real shot at taking the crown away from the Mazda MX-5. Can the Fiat 124 Spider do it?

And which would you choose to get through car finance?

The engines

Let us start with the engines in the king. The cheapest, entry-level Mazda MX-5 comes with a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 131 bhp. This model has a top speed of 127 mph and accelerates from 0-60 mph in 8.3 seconds. Being a sports convertible, you can’t expect amazing fuel efficiency, however, it does have a respectable combined fuel economy of 47.1 mpg.

For the Fiat 124 Spider, you get a 1.4-litres four-cylinder petrol engine for your entry level model. It is overall quicker and faster than the entry level Mazda. It has a top speed of 134 mph and accelerates from 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds. It does, however, have a lower combined fuel economy with the Mazda, producing 44.1 mpg. So, at entry level, the Fiat 124’s engine does perform better than the Mazda MX-5’s engine.

Green convertible sports cars

Let’s move onto the greenest engines available. The Mazda MX-5 gives you a 1.5 Arctic model. This one has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, developing 131 bhp. It is very like the entry level Mazda. It has a top speed of 127 mpg, accelerates from 0-60 mph in 8.3 seconds and has a combined fuel economy of 47.1 mpg.

Fiat’s greenest model is similar to the entry level Fiat as well. The model is the 1.4 Multiair Anniversary edition. It comes with a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, developing 140 bhp. This model also has a top speed of 134 mph and accelerates from 0-60 mph in the same time of 7.5 seconds. The combined fuel economy of this model is 44.1 mpg.

What it is really all about

Now we go to the thing that these cars are all about. Their speed and their power as sports cars. The Mazda MX-5’s fastest model is the 2.0 SE-L edition. It comes with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 160 bhp. With that power, this model has a top speed of 133 mph and sprints from 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds. The fuel economy doesn’t drop by much either. It still produces an impressive 40.9 mpg.

The fastest and most powerful Fiat 124 Spider model is also its greenest. Its engine does produce that 140 bhp, making it less powerful than the Mazda. It has a top speed of 134 mph making it still 1mph faster than the Mazda. It does accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds, making it slower in acceleration by 0.2 seconds. It does have a better combined fuel economy of 44.1 mpg.
When it comes to engines, both cars are closely matched overall.

Let us talk interiors

The interior for the Mazda MX-5 is obviously designed with the driver in mind. The dashboard is simple and clean with the main controls close to hand and easy to use. The air vents are designed to focus on the driver as well, so the driver can remain cool or warm dependent upon the season. In fact, the heating and air conditioning are controlled through rotary dials, making it easy for the driver to change the temperature to what they feel is right for them.

Inside a red Mazda

The quality of the interior is very high for what you pay for the Mazda. The majority of plastics feel high quality and everything is put together brilliantly. The infotainment system that controls the audio and sat-nav is controlled through a seven-inch touchscreen in the centre of the console. Obviously being a two-seater sports car, you can only fit a single passenger alongside you, however, the space you get is excellent. You get plenty of legroom and infinite headroom with the roof down and plenty of space with the roof up. In the boot, you get a capacity of 130-litres.

Inside the spider

In the Fiat 124 Spider, you will find little to no change to the Mazda. In fact, Fiat has basically copied the entire interior because if it isn’t broke, don’t fit it. The changes that do exist ensure that you get a nicer quality feel. The softer plastics introduces a more quality feel and are in abundance There are extra classy trim pieces for that premium edge.
You are dramatically low in the Fiat 124 Spider and therefore your view could be impaired by taller vehicles, but this is also the case in the Mazda MX-5. Again, you can have infinite headroom and the legroom is excellent. In the boot, you get 140-litres of boot capacity.

Inside the Fiat 124 Spider

With regards to the interior, Fiat 124 Spider came after the Mazda MX-5 and in most respects, Fiat has copied Mazda. Where there are improvements in the Fiat, they do offer a more premium feel, but there lacks an imagination on Fiat’s part. But you do get a bigger boot.

Convertible performance

Now let’s get down to the business of performance. The place where Mazda has truly ruled since they launched the first MX-5. Mazda has extensively changed how the MX-5 is set up mechanically. This allows it to have the finest handling for any of its models yet and in fact, handles better than the Fiat 124 Spider.

The overall car is lighter using the aluminium, particularly the suspension and front wings. The steering in the MX-5 is quick, sharp and incredibly accurate allowing you to place your car wherever you wish on the road. It allows you the driver to be fully in control always. You can throw this car into a corner and it will drive all the way through without even the possibility of losing control. The ride is superb. Don’t need to say much more than that. It absorbs the majority of the bumps and potholes and is just incredibly comfy.

Riding in the spider

The Fiat 124 Spider is an excellent cruiser. You can sit at cruising speed and just relax. The ride is very comfortable, on the same level as the Mazda MX-5. The power is well distributed, so when you accelerate, you don’t require high revs to overtake or even to get up to high speeds. This car works best in the mid-range.

The area where the Mazda dominates the Fiat 124 Spider is in the handling. The Fiat just isn’t sharp or quick enough in the steering to feel as fun or as in control as you do in the Mazda. It can tackle corners well, but compared to the Mazda, it just doesn’t feel as exciting or as fun.

Mazda has been king for all these years because of the way it handles. Handling is so important to two-seater sports cars otherwise, you may as well stick with a hot hatchback. With that central point in mind, the Mazda is still the king, but the Fiat 124 Spider is an excellent challenger. It does brilliantly with both the engine and the interior. But handling decides it all and the Fiat doesn’t quite knock the Mazda off the top spot.

Either of these cars would be a great purchase through car finance. Cheap convertibles are extremely fun to drive and are great for both weekend and short road trips. Car finance on cheap cars like these two convertibles are available and offers you excellent monthly payments. Let us know what sort of car you are looking for and your monthly budget and we will take it from there.

Representative Example of Credit

We expect more than 51% of our customers to achieve this rate.

Loan Amount Total Cost of Credit Representative APR 60 Monthly Payments Deposit Amount Loan Term Total Amount Payable
£7,500 £3831 19.1% APR £188.85 £0 60 Months £11,331

All offers are subject to change at any time, you must be 18 or over and finance is subject to status, vehicle availability and terms and conditions apply. We can introduce you to a limited number of finance companies, a commission may be received. Failure to maintain payments may result in termination of your agreement and the vehicle being returned, this could affect your credit rating and make it more difficult to obtain credit in the future. All prices correct at time of publication.

We purchase a wide variety of vehicles from all over the country to ensure the best quality and value for our customers, all of our cars go through a thorough inspection process and if they do not meet our standards we do not sell them. We endeavour to inform our customers (where possible) the provenance of the vehicle they are buying and as such we will always inform you if the vehicle has previously been either an ex fleet or hire car. Should your vehicle be an ex hire/fleet car please do not be concerned as we would never value this vehicle differently when you come to part exchange it and there is no difference to the CAP valuation either.

You should try and estimate the distance you will travel as accurately as possible to try and avoid excess mileage charges at the end of your contract.

All pictures and/or photos and car descriptions on this site are for illustration and reference purposes only and are not necessarily the vehicle on offer. All offers are subject to change at any time and are subject to finance approval and vehicle availability. All prices correct at time of publication. E & OE.

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