Now over a year in production, the Fiat 500 continues to draw looks, glances, and plenty of attention from fellow drivers. When driving a Fiat, it's hard to tell whether onlookers are laughing at you, with you, fascinated or just plain curious. At first, the brand wasn’t necessarily accepted into the market, but now as market share continues to grow for the brand, so does the portfolio. Expanding into high performance variants such as the new Abarth, expands market share even farther, and spotlights the performance orientation of the brand.
Yet, the Abarth variant of the 500 model is no laughing matter. It offers a wide range of performance attributes with fun to drive power dynamics and handling. Based in Turin, Italy, the Abarth brand has been a well-known nameplate associated with the Fiat brand since the early 1950s. In following years, Abarth was quite successful in hillclimbing and sports car racing.
Upon first glance, the sport oriented hatchback aesthetic differentiation is immediately apparent. Front and rear exterior fascia upgrades highlight the aggressive nature of this hot sport hatch. The 16-inch multi- spoke wheel finishes out the wheel wells nicely and color match the bold, Blanco (white) exterior.
A smooth shifting five-speed manual translates the international origin of this well known Italian. The transmission is mated to a spunky and powerful 1.4 liter Multiair engine under the good that pushes out an exceptional 160 horsepower, with an impressive 170 lb ft of torque, which is enough to get the 500 Abarth to 60 mph in just over 6.5 seconds.
Even though the Abarth model only weighs a mere 2500 lbs, the stabilization at highway speeds is impressive, and easy to note on the 700 mile road trip the Abarth was taken on during the week long test review. During the trip, the shallow cargo depth of the Abarth’s interior easily swallowed a full weeklong supply of luggage.
On the interior, passengers will feel the spirit of Italy with red leather sport seats. The sport-oriented seats introduce race inspiration with thick bolsters that hold passengers right when carving even the sharpest turns. Although obviously compact overall, the interior is surprising spacious and quite accommodating for at least three adults.
The Fiat 500 Abarth is a hot sports hatch ready to take on already highly established competition from Mini and Ford, with its newly launched Fiesta ST. The 500 Abarth offers a distinctive personality that makes it stand out among the segment, yet satisfies the performance quotient for the race inspired individual interested in purchasing. For more information on the Fiat 500 Abarth, please visit fiat.com.