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2015 FIAT 500 Review

More about the 2015 FIAT 500
More About This Model

Quick Summary
The 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio may have the market cornered when it comes to Italian charm, but its promises of performance, comfort and convenience go unfulfilled. Among sporty compacts, it brings up the rear, both figuratively and literally.

What Is It?
The Abarth represents the hot rod variant in the Fiat 500 lineup. Our test vehicle in Cabrio body style sports a cloth roof that retracts for a quasi-convertible experience, as well as a six-speed automatic transmission, which is new for 2015.

The base Fiat 500 hatchback starts at a very reasonable $17,495, but its 101-horsepower four-cylinder engine is utterly unfulfilling. For an additional $2,955, the 500 Turbo increases output to 135 hp. The Abarth tops the lineup with 160 hp and a starting price of $23,245, though with the automatic transmission, power is reduced slightly to 157 hp.

2015 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio

Opting for the Cabrio adds $4,000 to the Abarth's base price, while the automatic transmission increases the cost by another $1,350. Further embellishing our tester with premium audio, navigation, upgraded wheels, exterior graphics and the Comfort/Convenience package (automatic climate control, heated seats and satellite radio) brings the as-tested price to $31,795.

How Does It Drive?
If there's one thing that stands out with the Fiat 500 Abarth, it's the noise. For the most part, we enjoy sporty cars that deliver a certain amount of theatre in the form of engine and exhaust notes, as long as there's a corresponding payoff in terms of performance. The Abarth, however, lacks sufficient performance to justify the noise.

Attempts to launch the Abarth quickly are futile. Power doesn't arrive until the turbo builds boost at about 3,000 rpm. Combined with the lethargic transmission, there's considerable delay between input and response. Upshifts and rev-matched downshifts from the six-speed automatic are reasonably quick, but not particularly smooth. Our tester reached 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, which is 0.4 second slower than the last manual-transmission-equipped 500 Coupe we tested. The Fiat is about 1.0 second slower to that milestone than its principal rival, the Mini Cooper S.

2015 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio

Braking from 60 mph required 125 feet, which is about what we'd expect since our Abarth was delivered with all-season low-rolling-resistance tires. In these full panic stops, however, a noticeable and confidence-sapping side-to-side wiggle was noted. In less aggressive braking, this issue never materialized.

Despite the Fiat's small footprint, its 37.6-foot turning circle is larger than some SUVs, which negates one of the primary benefits of driving a small car. On the highway, our test vehicle was heavily influenced by seams and rain grooves, causing it to constantly wander within its lane.

Is It Fun To Drive?
One of the Fiat 500 Abarth's strengths is its lively performance relative to its supporting models, and the benefits are indeed noticeable. Compared to its rivals, however, the Abarth misses the mark. When unleashed on a twisting road, the tiny Fiat feels top-heavy, with far more body roll than we'd expect. Steering is accurate, but there's minimal feedback.

Keeping the Abarth's engine speed in the narrow window between the end of turbo lag and the rev limiter is difficult. With Sport mode engaged, there is a bit more responsiveness from the engine, as well as some entertaining backfires and crackles from the exhaust between gears. Unfortunately, this bark is fiercer than the Abarth's bite.

Is It Comfortable?
It's surprising how ill-suited the Fiat 500 Abarth is for an average-size male adult. The lack of rearward travel from the telescoping steering wheel will force these drivers uncomfortably close to the dash, which also forces them into a more upright and taller seating position. There's unfortunately no fix for the contour along the top of the seatback that presses into the driver's shoulder blades, or the unpadded armrests that create hard pressure points on the elbows.

The rear seats are acceptable only for small children, and accessing them requires a tight squeeze between the front seats and the door frame. To the Abarth's credit, its ride quality isn't as harsh as some other sporty subcompacts, but its handling isn't as confident either.

How Is the Interior?
In keeping with its primary competitors, the Fiat 500 Abarth's interior comes with a healthy serving of retro-chic style. Its simple layout with a bold body-colored dash fascia, few buttons and large singular gauges pay homage to the original Fiat Cinquecento. The flair of red stitching and a prominent Abarth logo on the sporty steering wheel further the Italian personality.

2015 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio

Unfortunately, the vast majority of these surfaces are made up of lower-quality plastics than are found in many competitors. The simplicity of the audio controls benefits the 500's nostalgic styling but offers limited functionality. Basic media controls, like searching for a song, are so complicated that even tech-savvy users may struggle.

The optional navigation system is no better. Rather than utilize a typical built-in touchscreen, the Fiat 500 instead opts for a removable TomTom system that pops into a receptacle on top of the dashboard. In terms of basic navigation it does the job, but any current smartphone app is superior when it comes to function and usability.

The 500 Cabrio also isn't a convertible in the most pure sense. The fabric top only covers the center roof section, so when it's retracted the roof rails and pillars remain above the occupants. Several preset stops make fully retracting the roof a time-consuming affair. And once retracted, it nearly completely obscures rear visibility. The top also blocks the trunk, but at least the trunk release button triggers the top to raise just enough to regain access.

The trunk itself is a dinky 5.4-cubic-foot space hampered by sloping sides and a narrow slotlike opening. The rear seats fold but don't yield a flat cargo floor, and releasing them requires you to crawl into the backseat. A small glovebox, cupholders and door pockets provide only minimal interior storage.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Does It Get?
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 27 mpg combined (24 city/32 highway). During 470 miles of mixed driving the Abarth produced only 21.1 mpg, with a best tank of 28.9 mpg in a stretch that was mostly highways.

What Safety Features Are Available?
The 2015 Fiat 500 offers few safety features beyond those found in all modern vehicles. A driver's knee airbag and hill-start assist are standard. On higher-trimmed models like our Abarth, rear parking sensors are also included, but a rearview camera is not offered.

What Are Its Closest Competitors?
Ford Fiesta ST: While the Fiesta is a hatchback, not a convertible, it can be argued that the Fiat 500 Cabrio isn't really a convertible either. The Fiesta ST delivers an incredible amount of performance for the money. It represents one of the greatest bang-for-the-buck propositions, even if it does lack the retro charm of the rest of this group.

Mini Cooper S Convertible: Comparably equipped, this Mini will cost about $1,200 more than our Abarth test vehicle, but the Mini's advantages in performance, quality, comfort and convenience are easily worth the difference. If you're looking for retro styling and playful driving dynamics, the Mini is still the best you can get.

Volkswagen Beetle Convertible R-Line: With similar feature content, a VW Beetle runs about $3,000 more than the Fiat. The Beetle delivers far more refinement and performance than the Abarth, but it's also quite a bit bigger.

Why Should You Consider This Car?
If the charm of Fiat 500's retro Italian design is irresistible, there is simply no other alternative. The Abarth Cabrio version adds power, performance and open-top motoring, all of which enhance the uniquely Italian experience.

Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
Among personality-rich retro-styled hatchbacks and convertibles, the Fiat 500 Abarth falls short of its competition in nearly every category. There are plenty of rivals that offer better value, quality and performance.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Used 2015 FIAT 500 Overview

The Used 2015 FIAT 500 is offered in the following submodels: 500 Hatchback, 500 Abarth, 500 Convertible, 500 C Abarth. Available styles include Pop 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl 5M), Sport 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl 5M), Abarth 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 5M), C Pop 2dr Convertible (1.4L 4cyl 5M), Turbo 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 5M), C Lounge 2dr Convertible (1.4L 4cyl 5M), C Abarth 2dr Convertible (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 5M), Ribelle 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl 5M), C 1957 Edition 2dr Convertible (1.4L 4cyl 5M), 1957 Edition 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl 5M), and Lounge 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl 5M). Pre-owned FIAT 500 models are available with a 1.4 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 160 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2015 FIAT 500 comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual. The Used 2015 FIAT 500 comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2015 FIAT 500?

Price comparisons for Used 2015 FIAT 500 trim styles:

  • The Used 2015 FIAT 500 Sport is priced between $10,599 and$17,990 with odometer readings between 17447 and102924 miles.
  • The Used 2015 FIAT 500 Abarth is priced between $14,590 and$19,990 with odometer readings between 13691 and88721 miles.
  • The Used 2015 FIAT 500 Pop is priced between $6,999 and$16,998 with odometer readings between 13988 and87899 miles.
  • The Used 2015 FIAT 500 Lounge is priced between $12,990 and$16,990 with odometer readings between 35856 and78816 miles.
  • The Used 2015 FIAT 500 C Abarth is priced between $15,990 and$20,990 with odometer readings between 19726 and71874 miles.
  • The Used 2015 FIAT 500 C Lounge is priced between $13,590 and$16,590 with odometer readings between 36243 and73674 miles.
  • The Used 2015 FIAT 500 Turbo is priced between $10,994 and$16,590 with odometer readings between 36942 and76678 miles.
  • The Used 2015 FIAT 500 Ribelle is priced between $18,998 and$18,998 with odometer readings between 9052 and9052 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2015 FIAT 500S are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2015 FIAT 500 for sale near. There are currently 59 used and CPO 2015 500S listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,999 and mileage as low as 9052 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2015 FIAT 500.

Can't find a used 2015 FIAT 500s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

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Find a used certified pre-owned FIAT 500 for sale.

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Should I lease or buy a 2015 FIAT 500?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out FIAT lease specials
Check out FIAT 500 lease specials