Admit it, when you see a Fiat 500 driving on the road, you probably scoff at it. The 500 is a little car with Italian styling that many think of as ‘feminine’. But let me tell you, there is nothing ‘girly’ about the 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth.
Our Fiat 500 Abarth was donning a white exterior (Bianco) with black and red accents, giving this little demon a sporty look. Adding to its sportiness is a lowered stance, dual exhaust, 17” forged aluminum gloss white wheels ($1,200 option), red brake calipers, the unique Abarth badge, and an Abarth spoiler. But does its sporty styling match how it drives?
Unsurprisingly, the Fiat 500 Abarth is as sporty and mean as these little buggers come. Its powered by a 1.4-liter MultAir turbo engine that puts out 160hp and 170 lb-ft of torque, which is plenty for this car. Off of the line, the 500 Abarth will get on it right away offering some impressive acceleration. But it wasn’t the acceleration that caught my attention, instead it was the exhaust, because its exhaust note is nothing to joke about. Its loud and has a ear-catching pitch that is sure to grab everyone’s attention at the track. Wait, did I just say at a track? Thanks to its award-winning engine, dual –valve frequency selective damping, Abarth-specific rear-stabilizer bar, low stance, wide tires and a lot more, the Abarth will tear up any track and surprise all of the naysayers. But don’t get me wrong, this is not a track-specific car, as it runs beautifully and comfortably on the road.
Inside the 500 Abarth you will be greeted with surprisingly comfortable seats and plenty of headroom for the tall folks out there. The seats in our vehicle were the optional performance leather-trimmed high-back bucket seats that gave a racecar-esque feeling. One detail that should be noted on the inside of the Abarth is the pedals, because usually when little cars get the manual treatment, things seem to go downhill. With the Abarth, this is not the case. Instead, you get a pedal setup that a MINI would be jealous of. The pedals have the perfect amount of surface area on them and have a good amount of space between them, as opposed to some sports cars where the pedals are jammed together and have no room to be stomped on.
Also, we should not forget the interior design which is heavy on the stylish side. The red and black theme flowed through the interior, continuing the exterior’s sporty vibe. From the leather-wrapped steering wheel, to the leather-wrapped instrument panel cluster, this interior screamed ‘Italian’. And of course, this wouldn’t be a sporty car without a fantastic stereo system. Our 500 Abarth was fitted with the Beats sound system which included a subwoofer. While it wasn’t the greatest system I’ve heard, it was still crisp and some heavy bass.
Like I said before, there is plenty of headroom for the driver and passenger, but if you plan on sitting more people in the back, plan on squishing them a bit as this car doesn’t have the adequate space for the rear passengers.
Overall, I really enjoyed the car. It was sporty, surprising and stylish compact vehicle that was willing to go above and beyond for me, something I wasn’t expecting out of a car that has a $22,000 base price. Everywhere I went, it seemed to turn heads and get compliments, so it obviously has an audience. Now, here is where I go out on a limb: I would pick this car over a MINI Cooper S. Everything about this car just appealed to me more, from its performance to its styling, I couldn’t get enough. And believe me when I say, if I had a racetrack handy, I would have been blowing through it in the 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth.