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Fiat Spider Abarth confirmed for Australia

Australia will get the high-powered version of the Fiat Spider sports-car when it goes on sale locally later this year.

Australia will get the high-powered version of the Fiat Spider sports-car when it goes on sale locally later this year.

Pricing is yet to be confirmed but the twin-under-the-skin to the Mazda MX-5 -- made on the same Japanese production line -- is expected to cost close to $40,000, putting it in direct competition with the car on which it is based.

Fiat Australia had been considering whether to bring in the regular version of the Spider, the flagship Abarth, or both models.

But the company confirmed this week it would only import the top-of-the-range model for now.

Both Fiat Spider models are powered by a 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder engine, but the Abarth edition has more grunt (126kW/250Nm versus the standard car's 104kW/240Nm).

MX-5 sales are at "record levels" and show no signs of slowing

Fiat claims the Spider Abarth can accelerate from 0 to 100kmh in 6.8 seconds, weighs just 1060kg and has a perfect 50:50 weight distribution for better balance in corners.

The Abarth also gets a unique "Monza" exhaust to give it more character.

Meanwhile Mazda says it currently has no plans to fit the Fiat's turbocharged engine to the MX-5.

Instead, the Mazda MX-5 will continue to be available with a choice of 1.5-litre (from $31,990) or 2.0-litre (from $34,490) four-cylinder power.

Later this year, Mazda will introduce the MX-5 RF with a retractable hard top lid priced close to $40,000.

Mazda Australia says MX-5 sales are at "record levels" and show no signs of slowing.

Last month, the Mazda MX-5 was voted World Car of the Year for 2016, the automotive industry's top award. The Mazda MX-5 also took out the World Car Design award for 2016.

Meanwhile, the world's biggest selling sports-car is due to pass the 1 million milestone within weeks.

Mazda says it will keep the 1 millionth MX-5 made as a museum piece after it rolls off the Japanese production line during a special ceremony.

Would you buy an MX-5 RF or an Abarth Spider with your $40k? Tell us what you think in the comments below.