I got mine used. Fiat's rather undeserving reputation for poor quality works out for those of us buying used. Car was probably 33000 with every single option available new and I picked it up for 14000 with 15k miles and 2 years old. So, not the car you want to absorb initial price on. Even if the price stayed strong like a honda, 33k would be a bit much for a car this size and power. A great MX-5 could be had for less than that. PRACTICALITY- It can seat 4 as long as they're all middling size. I'm 6'3" and can fit my teen children and wife in there. Not for long, but it can be done. Not much cargo space on the cabriolet, but enough to do a grocery run without putting the seats down. Gets good fuel mileage without giving up power. INTERIOR AMENITIES- Beats Audio is pretty great. I've owned a lot of cars and this has the best stereo ever. I thought the HK in the Mini S was nice. No where near. Controls are simple. Not many options. Has an easy to access menu in the gauge cluster to adjust beeps and DRL etc. Instant and trip MPG. Normal car computer stuff. Bluetooth is lacking. Technically you can use it to connect phone calls. But NO BT STREAMING AUDIO to the stereo. Unforgivable. Does have the requisite USB and 1/8" jack though. Seats (leather) are comfortable. Height adjustable (a la VW). Passengers complain about the rear headrests. The rear seats are almost perpendicular to the ground and the headrests stick out in front of them. You pretty much have to lean forward. BUT... technically its for safety. Safe isn't always comfortable. The arm rest is only on the drivers seat and is perfect for me. My wife considers it to be too high (she's short). It can be stowed if it bothers you. Seats are bolstered but not straight jacket. You sit high for a sports car.... but its not a sports car. Its a hot hatch. Good visibility. you never notice how small the car is till you park it or squeeze by into the turn lane that's almost blocked. DRIVABILITY- I came out of a mk6 GTI most recently. The GTI was almost too perfect. It lacked fun. You had to bring it to a track to get "on the edge" safely. The abarth isn't an "est" car. Its not the fastest, not the best in corners, its not the most powerful. What it lacks in power and skid pad and rapid weight transfer, it makes up for in spades with FUN. It must be driven on the edge. You don't sit back and marvel at your speed through the turn. You earn it. It handles better than most things on the road and anything in its class, but it doesn't beat your brains out on rough roads. It has a very sophisticated shock absorber that lets it soak up bumps and still perform. The shifter is spot on. Some call it sloppy. It doesn't offer a lot of feed back, but I've NEVER missed a shift. Only thing weird about it is that it will let you try to put it in reverse if you forget its only a 5 speed and try to grab 6th. When you come to a stop in a 3 point turn, if you quickly shift from forward to reverse you might hear it grind as the transmission spins very freely. The ASC is VERY intrusive when "all the way on". Starting from a green light can find you bogging down if you try to start quickly at all. The tiny firm tires try to spin on intersection rubble and the ASC/TSC kicks in and cuts the throttle all but completely. I generally drive it on "1 push". That is. Tapping the ASC controls put it in a "sport" mode. It allows a bit of wheel spin and will let you performa an "L" turn with the hand brake before it stops you. It still assists if you start sliding around a corner, or stab the brakes too hard out of a dip. Push and hold the ASC button for 5 seconds and you're in track mode. Full off as far as I can tell. Smoke the tires, pull J turns, drift through chicanes, spin backwards into the gravel or trees. Not a great idea for the road, but kicks butt on the auto cross circuit. The ASC has saved me a couple times. It has my trust. The noise... OH the noise. Pops and crackles. Pull away from the drive up window and you hear the turbo spin up. Build full boost at anything below maximum torque curve and let off to a satisfying after fire. The car has NO MUFFLER! Catalytic converter into down pipe, into a small flex converter---- 6 feet of straight pipe, T to the 2 outlets. Its obnoxious in confined spaces. On the road its not even noticeable. No drone, just a very european crackle. Blip the throttle between shifts. Sounds race car. The pedal box is perfect. My wife automatically learned to heel toe. She had never even heard the term before. It just comes naturally in the 500. "I can brake and rev match without taking my foot off the brake". Its amazing. The steering is responsive but not heavy. The steering wheel could be better. I can't find a perfect place for my hands. It wants you to be at 10&2 but I prefer a 9&3. The car has a bit of body flex and body lean, but nothing dramatic.
Six-Speed Automatic Transmission ($1,350), Comfort/Convenience Package ($900 -- includes automatic climate control with micron filter, heated front seats, satellite radio), Beats Premium Audio ($700), TomTom Navigation System ($600), 16-Inch Aluminum Wheels ($550), Red Mirror Cap With Body-Side Strip and Gray Soft Top ($450)
Turbocharged, port-injected, inline-4, gasoline
Cast iron/aluminum alloy
SOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression ration (x:1)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
157 @ 5,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)
183 @ 2,400
Six-speed automatic with console shifter and Sport/Competition modes
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)
There is some hesitation when you first stomp on the gas pedal off the line, as with many turbo cars. A bit more with this 500 Abarth than most cars these days, though. But by the time the tachometer clears 3,000 rpm, the engine is making good power, enough to spin the front tires, especially when you have traction control turned off. Regardless, the Abarth sounds rorty and fun. It's a low, grumbly kind of engine/exhaust note, and it backfires sometimes on full-throttle uphifts. Which also sounds cool. Shifts are reasonably quick, usually coming around 6,000 rpm. It upshifts sooner if it gets a bunch of front wheelspin. Our quickest time came with the Sport button pressed while utilizing power-braking (overlapping throttle and brake on the line to bring the revs to about 2,200 rpm to spool the turbo). Manual shifting is via the console shift lever (push forward for downshifts, the way we prefer it). It blips the throttle on downshifts and will hold gears to the rev limiter. Manual shifting gave slower times versus just using the transmission's regular Drive mode.
Reasonably firm brake pedal, and stayed that way throughout, even though there was significant brake odor early. Nosedive isn't excessive, but the car squirms back and forth on its tires quite a bit. It's not the most confidence-inspiring stopper. Very little in the way of ABS commotion/noise, though. The first stop was the shortest at 125 feet. The second stop was the longest at 134 feet, but the fifth and final stop was back down to 130 feet.
Let's be honest: The Fiat 500 -- even the Abarth version -- doesn't handle all that well. Sure, it's sort of nimble (only because it's tiny), and it's better than a standard 500, but relative to the competition, this isn't a rewarding car to drive. It's too tall to feel truly confident in transitions, and there's more roll than there should be. The steering is lifeless when it comes to road feel and feedback, even if it is relatively quick. It understeers its way to only 0.87g on the skid pad -- with a stubborn refusal to rotate. And it's slower than everything in the class through the slalom. Blargh.