By on January 11, 2012

Fiat is hoping that their new 500 Abarth will inject some new energy into their lineup, just like couples stuck in a flagging marriage hope that immersing themselves into “the lifestyle” will add some spice and excitement to a union long past its expiration date. The 500 Abarth will likely have some demographic overlap with guests at Hedonism II, since it will likely be enjoyed by pudgy, swarthy men with outsized egos and overly made up female professionals.

100 percent less snark, 100 percent more cheesy innuendo after the jump.

The 500 Abarth is the one we’ve been waiting for all along. The 1.4L turbocharged engine puts out 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed stick will be the only option, but buyers get special wheels, upgraded suspension bits, dual exhaust a boost gauge. Abarth owners also get the chance to enroll in the Abarth Driving Experience, a driving school put on by the Richard Petty Driving Experience – but we’ll let  our resident Grand-Am driver handle that aspect.

The 500 Abarth has less horsepower than the Mini Cooper S but it’s also $1,310 cheaper, not to mention 155 lbs lighter than the 2,668 lb Cooper S. The Volkswagen GTI is nearly two grand more expensive but packs 40 more horses. The Hyundai Veloster Turbo is equally powerful compared to the GTI and can be had with a dual clutch gearbox, but pricing hasn’t been announced yet. It’s also the porkiest of the bunch, weighing 2,800 lbs. Let’s see whether hot hatch owners are willing to soft swap trade in their current mounts for something Mexican Italian.

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43 Comments on “Fiat 500 Abarth Starting At $22,000...”


  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    VW lists the 2012 GTI as just over 3000lbs (European version).

  • avatar
    mikedt

    It’s probably a smart marketing move. As a new player you need to appeal to people who are willing to take a risk, you can’t try to compete with the Corolla crowd out of the gate. But by appealing to aficionados, people willing to trade a history of iron clad reliability for fun and excitement, they might get a toe hold.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    2,500+ pounds? Jeebus.

  • avatar
    threeer

    While I am positively smitten with the little scamp, I can’t shake the feeling that the $22k price tag will be too much for most Americans to swallow. That gets you awfully close to a V6 Mustang…and while I grant that the Abarth and Mustang aren’t necessarily 100% comparable, I’d wagger that more folks looking for a low(er) priced sporty car would turn to the Mustang before the Fiat. I was also hoping they’d strap it with more than 160HP…180HP or so would have perhaps made it a tad more compelling. The Abarth will sell…in limited quantities…but probably not at any sustained level of transaction. Give it a few years to depreciate, and I’d be interested.

  • avatar
    moorewr

    The price is at the high-end of the acceptable range for me.. but it’s there. Maybe there will be an incentive or two out there in a year to get me to buy it. :)

    This is on my very short list of cars that are not used Audis I should test drive.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    my first exposure to this car was Gran Tourismo, reminds me of a beady eyed pug. It would definitely find a spot in my fantasy garage though.

  • avatar
    nearprairie

    Until the steering wheel gets a tilt/telescope arrangement the driving position remains Orang-Utalian.

    • 0 avatar
      moorewr

      I didn’t mind the driving position in the 500 Sport I test drove.. I’m tall (6′ 3″) and was happily surprised to get comfortable, not hit my head, and have room for a small, masochistic adult behind me.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    $22,000? That’s almost exactly the after-incentives price of the 2012 Chevrolet Impala with 300 horsepower.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    My understanding of the “Richard Petty Driving Experience” experiences is that one sits in the passenger seat and is driven around a race track a couple of times.

    I’m not a Mini fan, but will still point out that this is nowhere in the same league as a Mini.

    And, of course, there is the Miata for anyone that wants a real sports car. Yes, the Miata has a certain stigma, but anyone considering a Fiat 500 obviously does not care about that.

    • 0 avatar
      moorewr

      Lots of people really, really like the Miata, but also, really, really can’t get away from needing a back seat big enough for a car seat.

      I’m one of those people (which is why I’d buy a TT hardtop coupe, Abarth 500, or BRZ before a Miata). Now, why I’d prefer this to a Cooper S.. that’s a lot less objective. :)

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Here in Indiana they push the 500 for 199/mo no money down.
    Will this one be 219/mo? Might be fun.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    $22k is better than I expected, but that ‘starting’. Nicely equipped might push it up over $26k, and then it’s a really tough sell.

    However, the turbo might just fill in the torqueless bottom end I experienced when I test drove one. I was shocked at how gutless the 500 is, but at least the front seats are very comfortable and the car felt well-planted.

  • avatar
    swedishiron

    Real men spend for the Volvo C30 hatchback. (No Twilight jokes please)

    • 0 avatar
      word is bond

      It’s feels weird to say this, but the C30 is easily the best looking of all the hatches

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        Yes, but that car’s base MSRP is $25,000, and you will spend closer to $30k for what’s actually on the lots. If we’ve hit that kind of money we’re talking GTI or Mazdaspeed3 for the hot-hatching, and both are much faster than the C30 (heck, the Abarth 500 is faster..).

  • avatar
    ELnNH

    More like four thousand cheaper than a Mini S hardtop.. 26 to 27500 for the base S hardtop depending on the color. The non S hardtop with 121 hp is around 23,000.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Not exactly. The base price on a non S “Justacooper” hatch is about $20.7k MSRP. You’ll never find that car on a lot, but if you custom order a Mini like my wife did this summer and wait 8-12 weeks, you’ll get one.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Every time someone brings up the Mini base price we go through this, from the guys who don’t think a base Mini S is adequately equipped, or they include taxes, doc fees, etc. The base price is the base price… Cooper S is $23,800 with deliver, base Cooper is $20,200 with delivery.

        Regardless of how the standard equipment compares to other cars, or whether you “need” options, base MSRP is what it is.

  • avatar
    mjz

    I think they need to lower the prices of all the 500s if this car is to be successful. Seem to be about $2,000 too high across the board.

  • avatar
    word is bond

    I think this a great price. Newsflash! – Cars are expensive.
    I hope this sells in droves, so I can pick one up used and unmolested in a few years.

  • avatar
    MarkP

    I predict that the response will be, “what’s an Abarth?” As I said a while back, Fiat should price this at the previous top model’s price and bump all the earlier models’ prices down a notch.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    Might be just me, but I just don’t get the color schema or the aesthetics at all. I do understand the Abarth concept, one of my first car loves was an Autobianchi A112E Abarth, which is what this cinquecento is trying to mimic, but I am not sure that successfully. Also not sure that it will sell much because factory hot hatch segment really never selled that much in recent years. And that includes cars with more than 2-3 dealerships per state (anyone remember the Focus SVT?) It could work, but unless the sales and distribution network gets larger, it will be very very tough to make it happen

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    This hot-hatch is too heavy to really be sporty, too impractical to use for regular car duties, too flashy to be a “sleeper”, and too pricey to be a weekend beater.

    In other words, we’re still waiting for a real hot-hatch.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Fiat Cooper S.. snicker. This should have been the standard motor at launch. Any news on the 7-speed DCT?

    22K? Consider a Sentra SER and Smith System driver training.

    • 0 avatar
      moorewr

      A base 500 is $3000 less than a base Mini. This car is at least $1000 cheaper than a Cooper S. I’d argue this should be at least $1000 less than they’ve priced it, but it clearly is roughly where it belongs – between the price of the Cooper and the Cooper S.

  • avatar
    moorewr

    ..and any modern Sentra, even the SER, is bland to look at and bland to drive. Offer me a B13 SE-R for the driving school and we could talk.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I haven’t heard much exciting news on the 500s driving either, the only issue with Sentras are the recent re-call for something that can make them stall, otherwise they get better gas mileage and feature better seating.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        European reviews of the Abarth & Abarth Essesse are very positive.. you watch Top Gear lunge around a track in their “tiny Lamborghini,” for example.

        Reviews of the current Sentra, including the SER, have emphasized blandness and boredom, which matches my personal narcoleptic response to the appearance of the car.

        I owned a B13 coupe (a ’92) and I loved that thing dearly. The forgotten and ignored BMW 2002 of the 1990s.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I never did understand car journalists that hop in plain FF sedans and say “its boring to drive!”, considering that most FF sedans are just for commuting around.

      Though, the thing with the Sentra is its a compact, and almost every compact that I’ve driven did feel fun and lively to turn into corners (they were all older cars, of course), I can see why some would make note of the new one not being so fun.

      Almost every sedan that I’ve ever driven was a bore, but the only one with sporty pretensions was a Grand Prix GT which was pretty much meant “terrible ride and constant alignment trouble”.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        I agree, of course! Even an old A/T Civic is hoonable – you can throw into corners hard enough to explore that front-heavy understeer.

        It is worth noting when a manufacturer has responded to a higher calling and done what they could for the handling of the car.. and shun the ones that especially disconnect you from the road (Corolla, anyone?).

        Anyway auto journalists are trained to bloviate about cornering and feel up the dash on every car. They are, after all, mostly hoons like us.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    At $22K this is too close in price to the much nicer overall package of a VW GTI. I know which one I would choose.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    This is brilliant. Take a car that is not selling as well as hoped for and make a version that’s less appealing to 99.785% of potential buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      moorewr

      How is it less appealing?

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Admittedly the Abarth is more appealing to me than the plain 500, but most people want 20-speed automatics, a claimed 40mpg, a reasonable price for a compact, a non-functional gargantuan front grille, big blind spots, and a sporty look to mask a bland car.

        The Abarth dosen’t offer any of these, and its most likely sportier than it looks, something that I like but the majority dosen’t.

    • 0 avatar
      boltar

      Well they can’t exactly turn it into a 3-ton SUV with a trim kit, so I’d say the Abarth is a welcome addition. The fundamental problem is that most American cars don’t like small cars ipso facto.

      I think Fiat is well aware that the 500 in any form is not going to appeal to the majority of buyers. They are aware they are competing in a small niche. I too wish they had done something a bit more aggressive with the styling of the Abarth, but I think if they can persist they will win a faithful following.


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