Up: It’s a blast to drive, puts a smile on your face every time.
Down: You never look manly getting out of a Fiat 500.
Neutral: All the girls will think it’s “cute”, then you’ll have to explain why it’s badass.
I’m sure all of you have seen those tiny little Fiat 500’s driving around town, looking very chic. And being seen in a Fiat is not something any man wants. However, once you drive the 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth, you never want to get out. The Abarth is a whole different version altogether.
Abarth is to Fiat as AMG is to Mercedes-Benz, M division is to BMW, and the mullet hair-style is to any Camaro owner. Abarth primarily modifies Fiat production cars for racing, but in recent years they have been modifying cars for production. Abarth has always had a lunacy to it. For instance, they modified a Fiat 600 in the 1960s by tweaking the rear-mounted engine and they quickly found out that it ran very hot. Their fix? By opening the “hood”. When they did this, they discovered that it was almost 7mph (10%) faster so they fixed a hood that couldn’t be closed. That is how crazy Abarth is. With the new 500, however, there is none of that.
The Fiat 500 Abarth has a 6.5 liter V12 from a Lamborghini Aventador; or at least it thinks it does. This car demands to be taken seriously, and the experience is one to behold. The exhaust note from the 1.4 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine can be described with no other word than RAW. The pep with which it accelerates makes you giggle every time you put your foot to the floor. It is not fast, make no mistake, but that is what makes the driving experience hilarious. It is very reminiscent of the SRT-4 Neons of old. It’s also nimble and light on its toes. The Abarth is a blast to pitch into turns at slow speeds and it makes you feel like you’re Ayrton Senna.
The interior is hip, but ergonomic. Every button is within reach, and the placement of said buttons is intuitive. There is a plastic feel to the buttons, but they don’t feel fragile. The sound system is one from Dr. Dre’s “Beats” line, and the seats are supremely comfortable. The steering wheel makes hooning this car, even for a sizable person, such as myself, a pleasant experience. The shifter placement, while not immediately instinctive, was one thing that definitely stood out as being exceptionally placed. The ease with which you can shift this thing just makes it that much more fun.
The trunk space was not desperate, but it’s no Volkswagen GTI either. With that being said, I was staggered at how much room there was. This car is enormous inside the cabin. Having spent a majority of the last 6 months in a Mini Clubman, I was still pleased with the interior space.
But not everything is fine and dandy when it comes to the 500 Abarth. The 20 miles per gallon are unacceptable from a car so small. The visibility is almost non-existent, although it could be argued you don’t really need it with the size. There is also an incredibly annoying hesitation from 3000-4000 RPM at full throttle that makes you rethink your overtaking move entirely.
All in all, I’m not too sure I’d buy anything else for the money. Priced under $21,000 with close to 1000 miles on it, the 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth packs a huge punch in the smiles and miles per gallon area. I have driven Volkswagen GTI’s, Ford Focus ST’s, and other $25-$30,000 plus cars, but I have never gotten out and immediately wished I was back driving again until this Fiat. It’s that fun, practical, and hilarious.
*Photos by Eric Vilendrer