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Fiat 500C Arbarth

Fiat 500 Abarth Esseesse

on April 16 2014 | in Car reviews, Fiat 500, Latest news | by | with Comments Off

Car specification

Price: $42,990/$46,990
Engine: 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo,118kW/201Nm
Transmission: Five-speed automated manual, or traditional five-speed manual
Fuel economy: 6.5 litres/100km
Emissions: 155gr/km (Euro 5)
Equipment: Bluetooth, USB sockets, hands-free voice control
Safety: All the electronic devices including stability control
Factory warranty: Three-year/100,000km

The hot hatchback’s main purpose is to put a smile on the face of its driver. Owners will forgive and forget the flaws, the compromises the carmaker had to make to deliver a go-faster small car. Here the heart will always rule the head. The three-door Fiat 500 Abarth is the perfect example of such trade-offs. Inside and out it is dressed to thrill, with lots of detailing to suit the Scorpion logo, company founder Carlo Abarth’s zodiac sign.  But despite the fancy bits the cabin layout remains a Fiat 500: two seats up front, two smaller ones in the back, and an even smaller boot. The smiley face begins once you fire up the engine, push the ‘1’ button for first gear, and move off under a raspy exhaust note. What happens next will wipe the smile off your face. The robotised manual gearbox – an automated manual with no clutch pedal and paddle shifters on the steering column – in the 500 Esseesse doesn’t like shifting up a gear. There’s a brief delay – it feels like the car is about to run out of petrol – at low revs while the electronics do their thing. Upshifts get better as the revs climb towards 6000rpm, especially in ‘Sport’ mode where peak torque rises to 230Nm. Lifting off the accelerator on each upshift helps. Shifting down, however, is a delight, the process neatly matching engine revs. Get through the upshift learning curve and the little hatchback struts its stuff. On good roads, it is bags of fun. Steering is accurate, handling quick and sharp, grip tenacious, ride firm – always very firm – and composed. On bad roads, the ride gets crashy and noisy. There is so little travel in the shock absorbers – another compromise to performance – that the car sort of jars out of one bump and slings itself into another. Too long on a bad road will rattle the fillings in your teeth. In a nutshell, there are better go-fast hatchbacks, one or two costing a few thousands dollars less. But the Fiat 500 Abarth has a character all its own. It plays games with your mind; makes you smile, charms your socks off.

Good features
Handling, steering, lively engine, overall charm

Not so good
Crashy ride on bad surfaces, automated manual gearbox

Rating 7/10

 

 

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