2012 FIAT 500 Long Term Road Test


IL Track Tested: 2012 Fiat 500 Sport vs. 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

March 27, 2012

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Our recent full test of the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth revealed a wickedly fun little car that made way-cool noises. It also stood in stark contrast to the 2012 Fiat 500 Sport that resides in our long-term fleet. Yes, it has Sport in its name, but on the "Sport" scale it's badminton to the Abarth's short-track speedskating. And in terms of spokesmodels, J. Lo is no Catrinel Menghia.

But back to cars. The Fiat 500 Abarth has 160 horsepower. The 500 Sport has 101. The Abarth has sticky summer tires, while the 500 Sport has long-life all-seasoners. How stark is the difference on the track? Read on.

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth 2012 Fiat 500 Sport

0-30 (sec.): 2.6 3.2
0-45 (sec.): 4.6 6.3
0-60 (sec.): 7.1 10.5
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.): 6.7 10.3
0-75 (sec.): 10.4 16.8
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 15.3 @ 88.8 17.6 @ 76.6

30-0 (ft): 30 31
60-0 (ft): 123 119
Skid pad lateral accel (g): 0.87 0.80
Slalom 68.8 65.3 (with ESC on)


Vehicle: 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

Odometer: 1,876
Date: 3/06/2012
Driver: Josh Jacquot
Price: $26,900 (as tested)

Specifications:
Drive Type: Front engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Five-speed manual
Engine Type: Turbocharged, inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,368/83
Redline (rpm): 6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 160 @ 5,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 170 @ 2,500
Brake Type (front): 11.1-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 9.4-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, Koni dual-valve frequency selective dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Semi-independent twist beam-axle, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 205/40ZR17 (84W)
Tire Size (rear): 205/40ZR17 (84)
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: P Zero Nero
Tire Type: Asymmetrical, summer performance
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 2,587


Test Results:

Acceleration
0-30 (sec): 2.6 (3.3 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.6 (6.1 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 7.1 (9.5 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.7 (9.1 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 10.4 (12.8 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 15.3 @ 88.8 ( 16.7 @ 84.8 w/ TC on)

Braking:
30-0 (ft): 30
60-0 (ft): 123

Handling
Slalom (mph): 68.8 ( 66.3 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.87 ( 0.85 w/TC on)

Db @ Idle: 48.5
Db @ Full Throttle: 80.8
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 71.2

Comments:

Acceleration: Easily blows off the tires leaving the line. Shifter feels indirect and sloppy in daily use but slots right into gear on the track. Engine is done making useful power by 6,000 rpm.

Braking: Not a picture of stability any time -- especially during full-ABS stops. Wanders and squirms and pedal loses its edge after a few stops. Long stopping distance, too.

Handling:

Skid pad: Won't balance on the throttle here like it will at higher speeds on the track. There's understeer -- more or less, depending on speed -- but nothing will make this car rotate on the skid pad.

Slalom: Likes to be manhandled here. The harder I drove, the quicker it went. Being smooth seems less important than being aggressive. Doesn't like midcorner bumps.

Vehicle: 2012 Fiat 500 Sport

Odometer: 1,452
Date: 4/26/2011
Driver: Mike Monticello
Price: $19,200 (as tested)

Specifications:
Drive Type: Front engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Five-speed manual
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated, port-injection inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,386/83
Redline (rpm): 6,250
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 101 @ 6,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 98 @ 4,000
Brake Type (front): 10.1-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 9.4-inch solid discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Semi-independent twist beam-axle, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, integrated stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 195/45R16 (84H)
Tire Size (rear): 195/45R16 (84H)
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiProContact
Tire Type: All-season
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 2,433


Test Results:

Acceleration
0-30 (sec): 3.2 (3.7 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 6.3 (7.0 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 10.5 (11.4 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 10.3 (11.0 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 16.8 (17.5 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 17.6 @ 76.6 ( 18.1 @ 76.3 w/ TC on)

Braking:
30-0 (ft): 31
60-0 (ft): 119

Handling
Slalom (mph): 65.3 ( 64.8 w/TC off)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.80 ( 0.79 w/TC on)

Db @ Idle: 44.6
Db @ Full Throttle: 79.3
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 72.5

Comments:

Acceleration: Weak power, not much throttle response, even in Sport mode. Quickest run came with a 3,500-rpm launch and just a bit of wheelspin; requires a 2-3 shift before 60 mph. Besides the fact the little four-cylinder revs slowly, it's also hurt by a rev limiter that cuts in just past 6,000 in 1st and 6,400 in 2nd, despite the car's 6,800-rpm redline. Long throws from the five-speed manual, but positive shifts.

Braking: This 500 doesn't stop anywhere near as well as the car we had for our Full Test, due to the fact that the other car had the stickier Pirellis. Lots of nosedive and a very light tail with significant lateral movements. Still has a firm pedal feel, though.

Handling:

Skid pad: Chassis was only mildly willing to alter its line with drop-throttle; lots of understeer and body roll. With ESC off it wanted to spin up the inside front tire; the throttle would cut sporadically with ESC on, but was not overly intrusive, so driver still required to adjust throttle.

Slalom: Well this was a letdown, at least compared to the 500 Sport we had previously. What a difference tires can make, along with a less grippy test surface. Steering still feels good, with decent weighting and turn-in, but lots of body roll and little grip from the tires makes the car push wide around the cones. ESC was near perfect in that it just cut throttle slightly as car would get out of shape, the same amount whether On or "Off." There isn't a full OFF setting.

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 FIAT 500 in VA is:

$134 per month*
* Explanation
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