When all is said and done the Fiat 500 Abarth is a fun car to drive. It lacks the fundamentally solid underpinnings of its biggest competitor and therefore lacks that car's refinement, feedback and speed, but it's still a kick.
ComfortThe Abarth's ride comfort is better than a Mini Cooper S with the Sport package, but because there's little else to compare it to, it's difficult to quantify. Overall, considering its abilities, comfort is good.
Comfort is good, lateral support is lacking for a car with high cornering limits.
Dual-rate front dampers provide a reasonably comfortable ride. Spring rates aren't off-the-charts stiff, either.
The Abarth's exhaust is quite loud, but it adds character and it doesn't drone miserably on the freeway.
InteriorInterior details are a bit flashy, but add a level of detail and character only found in -- you guessed it -- a Mini Cooper.
Getting automatic climate control means there's not a single knob on the Abarth's dash -- a big mistake.
Wide-opening doors are a good thing. As are tall, upright seats.
Sunroof-equipped cars compromise headroom. Rear seat space is limited.
Being tall and having upright seats gives the Abarth good visibility.
There's room for soft bags behind the rear seats without folding. Carrying anything larger will mean folding the rear seats flat.
PerformanceAbarth model is far quicker than the base 500. Engaging to drive quickly and reasonably well behaved. Still, shows its B-segment roots when driven to its limits.
Brisk out of the hole with ample tire-roasting torque.
Squirms around more than we'd prefer during full-ABS stops, but remains stable.
Steering effort changes for the better with use of "sport" mode.
Good enough to hang with its primarly competition in our instrumented tests.
Not refined, but still quite fun.
ValueValue is the Abarth's shortcoming. For this much money you can get either more performance or a nicer -- if more subdued -- car.
Build Quality (vs. $)
The Abarth doesn't feel or look like a premium car inside like the Mini Cooper.
You'll pay more if you want the most desirable features like 17-inch wheels, navigation and Abarth badging.
Fully optioned the 500 Abarth hits almost $27,000, which is too much for this car.
Good EPA ratings of 28 city/34 highway are encouraging. A 22 mpg combined average in our (admittedly heavy footed) testing is only OK.
The 4-year/50,000 mile warranty is decent, and includes roadside assistance for that time period.
A big unknown. There's no North American track record to work from. On the other hand, oil changes and wear items like brake pads are covered for the first 3 years/36,000 miles
Fun To DriveBeing fun to drive is the Abarth's biggest selling point. It makes good sounds, squirts effortlessly between corners and manhandles traffic. Yes, it's fun.
Plan on being looked at in the Abarth. If that's your thing, this car will achieve it. If not, look elsewhere.
There's planty of personality here. It's quirky, unusual, fun and loud in every way.