While the exterior may strongly differ, the 124’s close relationship with the MX-5 is plain to see inside. Architecturally, nothing of note has changed; Mazda has even donated its infotainment software to the Fiat – save for a quick swapping of badge insignia on start-up.
In fact, faced with the two side by side, the exchange of logos is likely to be the most telling alteration for most people.
The decision to retain the MX-5’s infotainment system is symptomatic of Fiat’s approach to the 124’s cabin: there’s simply no getting away from the Mazda-ness of it. However, it pays dividends by virtue of the fact that the set-up is very effective and Turin has nothing better to replace it with.
As with the MX-5, you won’t get the 7.0in touchscreen at entry level without ticking a box, but you’ll need it when it’s time to sell on.
For the most part, it’s easy to operate. Mazda spent a lot of time figuring out its menus, and it shows in the home screen’s intuitiveness. Selections can be made via the command dial or by stabbing at the slightly hesitant display — the latter being preferable in the Fiat because the controller hides under your elbow.
Other minor niggles carry over: there’s still too much faff involved in choosing a station from the DAB list, and the sat-nav defaults to extreme pessimism when predicting your arrival.