The Truth About Cars » fiat 500 abarth http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:53:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » fiat 500 abarth http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Fiat Adds Automatic Abarth, Young People “Don’t Drive A Manual Transmission” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/fiat-adds-automatic-abarth-young-people-dont-drive-a-manual-transmission/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/fiat-adds-automatic-abarth-young-people-dont-drive-a-manual-transmission/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 05:39:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=788642
In a bid to boost sales of the Fiat 500 Turbo and Abarth, the two boosted versions of Fiat’s city car will get an optional automatic transmission.

Automotive News is reporting that Fiat will add the two-pedal gearbox in July, when the 2015 models begin production. While Fiat sold about 36,000 500s in the USA last year, around 5370 of those were Abarths, and Fiat boss Jason Stoicevich puts a lot of the blame on its manual-only configuration.

Speaking to AN, Stoicevich was blunt in his assesment of what was holding the Abarth back, stating

Frankly, [young people] just don’t drive a manual transmission,”

According to him, the addition of the auto could add another 2700 or so units to the Abarth’s sales tally. Overall, 500 sales have been down by about 13 percent year-over-year.

EDIT: 500 Abarth sales figures updated

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/fiat-adds-automatic-abarth-young-people-dont-drive-a-manual-transmission/feed/ 187
Generation Why: My Gen Y COTY http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/generation-why-gen-y-coty/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/generation-why-gen-y-coty/#comments Tue, 20 Nov 2012 20:54:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=467559

With the TWATs under way and awards season about to gear up, I would like to take a moment to highlight the one car I’ve found that ticks all the boxes for me personally. It’s the Fiat 500 Abarth.

The base 500 might as well be the template for the “premium city car” segment that’s slowly cropping up (the 500, Opel Adam and even the Ford Fiesta and Smart ForTwo can be included). It’s stylish, economical and carries a small footprint which makes it easier to park and maneuver. It’s also bog slow and dull to drive.

The Abarth fixes all that. 160 horsepower won’t light anyone’s hair on fire, but its quick enough by anyone’s standards, with serious punch above 3000 RPM that’s great for merging and passing big rigs on the highway. In the base car, those are white-knuckle feats of derring-do. In the Abarth, you want to do it again and again. The power comes in handy in city traffic too. There’s very little lag, and you can take nearly anything from a stoplight. A stopped taxi or dawdling driver blocking your lane can easily be evaded without downshifting – wait for even the tiniest gap, punch the throttle and you’re gone.

It sounds like a tuner car, and tries to look like a serious performance machine but doesn’t have any of the “I work at McDonalds” vibe that a tuner car (factory or aftermarket hackjob) carries. Girls think its cute, seniors take a real shine to it and you’d never be embarassed to take a client or your boss out to lunch in it. That wonderful exhaust note that everyone goes on about? It never drones or buzzes like an aftermarket unit does. But it sounds wonderful with the windows down, when you can hear the turbo spooling, the wastegate exhaling and the unburnt fuel crackling and popping.

Some of the cars flaws, like the high seating position, are actually a boon to city driving. Visibility is excellent and you quickly adapt to it. Others, like the excessive body roll and darty steering at high speeds make it less than ideal for serious performance driving. This isn’t something you’d take to the track. But for the kind of road courses you tackle on a daily basis, it’s superb. I even fit a Cotsco-sized grocery shop in the trunk without folding the seats down. In a pinch, I took a couple friends across town to go for lunch. Even though I drove the car vigorously all week, I had no trouble matching the 28 mpg the EPA claims for this car.

The Abarth is definitely a niche product, and a lot of people will be more comfortable with something else, whether that’s a Mini, a Mazdaspeed 3 or even an FR-S. But if you are that mythical Millenial; downtown-living, employed in the creative field, the kind of person that GM and Ford are trying so hard to cultivate, then this is your car. I love it for more tangible reasons; it can fit in nearly any parking space, easy on gas and has just the right amount of performance. Do I love it enough to take on a car note? No. But of all the cars I’ve driven this year, this is the one that I’d buy. Maybe in a few years, when things are a little more stable and I’m firmly entrenched here at TTAC, I’ll take the plunge. Right now, the world doesn’t seem to be getting any more stable economically, and that means even a $22,000 new car is something to be second guessed.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/generation-why-gen-y-coty/feed/ 101
2012 Fiat 500 Abarth Versus 2012 Ferrari FF http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/fiat-abarth-ferrari-ff/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/fiat-abarth-ferrari-ff/#comments Sat, 01 Sep 2012 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=458559  

A few months back, Bertel decreed that TTAC would have no more duplicate reviews. If we wanted to test a car that had already been reviewed, we’d better have a dramatically different take on it. I had a FIAT 500 Abarth for the week. Jack and Alex had already covered it on track and off. I thought someone had a comparison with the MINI Cooper S on the way. What else could I possibly compare the Abarth to that would make sense? It’s not like there are any other high-performance Italian hatchbacks offered in North America…

You’re a single guy (not me) with an appointment to keep (sadly, me) when you happen across a supermodel. You have only a few minutes to spare, but you’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t chance a pass, and she’s going to reject you anyway. Except Jeff Cauley is a top-notch dealer with enough of a sense of humor to agree to an “Italian hatchback comparison test.” So here we have all of the insight I could glean from a quickie with “this is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy” looping inside my skull.

There are some differences between the FIAT 500 Abarth and the Ferrari FF. We’ll cover those. But the similarities are uncanny. For $1,590, you can grace the fenders of your FF with “Scuderia Ferrari” shields. These are yellow topped with the Italian tricolor.

The Abarth’s fenders include shields as standard equipment. They’re smaller in size, with a scorpion rather than a horse (startled by a scorpion?) displayed sable, but the colors are the same.

A 2+2 two-door hatchback configuration distinguishes both cars from alternatives. The rear seats might barely fit adults, but they’ll do in a pinch, and should serve well with smaller humans. The FF has a considerable edge in cargo volume with the rear seat up (15.9 cubic feet vs. 9.5), but it goes away when the seat is folded (28.3 vs. 26.5).

Matching fitted luggage isn’t available from the FIAT factory at any price, much less $9,967, but there are other ways to contain your empties.

The leather inside the FF is of very high quality, and covers nearly every surface. Nearly every creature comfort is either standard or (in some unexpected cases) optional. Cruise control adds $1,067, a parking camera $3,463, and a dual-screen rear seat entertainment system $5,298. The nav system is as easy to use as that in a Chrysler, perhaps because it’s the same unit. The reconfigurable LCD instruments effectively convey a huge amount of information. (Hopefully they prove as durable as they are functional.) But you can find equally opulent cabins in cars that cost half as much.

Similarly, the Abarth’s decidedly less organic interior materials resemble those in cars that cost roughly half as much (though the red-stitched and upholstered instrument binnacle is a nice touch). Unlike in the Ferrari, cruise control is standard. Nav is provided by a portable unit that plugs into a hole atop the dash, but at least it only adds $400. As with the FF, you’re mostly paying for performance hardware.

What sort of hardware? The FF is powered by a normally-aspirated 6.3-liter engine that produces 660 horsepower (PS) at its 8,000 rpm redline. Torque peaks at a similarly lofty 6,000 rpm, but there’s plenty to be found just off idle, courtesy of the Vette-like displacement. Not that you’ll want to keep revs low. The V12′s tenor wail, more like that of a sport bike than any non-Italian car, is pistonhead nirvana, with never a note out of place. No manual transmission is offered, perhaps because none would be nearly as quick nor as smooth as the rear-mounted seven-speed automated dual-clutch unit. An ingenious all-wheel-drive system is standard. Instead of a transfer case, it employs a two-speed automatic transmission connected to a clutch pack for each wheel to grab power as needed (to maintain stability and traction) from the front of the engine. Is it quick? Of course it’s quick, so quick that you can barely scratch the powertrain’s potential at semi-legal speeds on public roads. In track testing, sixty arrives in about 3.5 seconds. This said, there’s more of a sensation of speed than in some other extremely powerful cars, where you arrive at 60 with little memory of the trip.

Does the thought of clutches that must continuously slip to do their job scare you? Or perhaps your environmental sensibilities cannot tolerate EPA ratings of 11 city and 17 highway? Then the 28/34 500 might be more your thing. For the Abarth, FIAT turbocharges the 500′s 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine to yield 160 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. Unless you forget to hit the sport button, in which case the engine peaks around 135 horsepower, the throttle lags, and the car feels unworthy of its fancy badges. So be sure to hit the button to the right of the red-stitched, flat-bottomed steering wheel each time you start the car.

Even with the sport button pushed, there’s little torque below 3,000 rpm even after the turbo spools up. The Abarth’s song isn’t remotely as refined as the FF’s, such that “song” seems an ill-chosen term, but what it lacks in quality it strives to make up for in quantity. Some will find its boom, snap, and crackle overly raucous, but for me the Abarth’s drone is reasonably low when cruising and its exhaust doesn’t bark loudly on deceleration the way the Dodge Neon SRT4′s (tuned by some of the same folks) did. The five-speed’s shifter is mounted oddly high, its shift feel is slightly sloppy, and the clutch vaguely grabs at the very top of its long travel. Despite this iffy execution, a conventional manual remains the best partner for the Abarth’s engine. A good thing, as no automated option is offered. The front wheels are driven all the time, the rears never. As in the Ferrari, the engine’s testa is dressed in rossa.

For a mere $1,445 you can get the FF’s massive calipers (which squeeze 15.7-inch rotors) in red.

The Abarth has red calipers as a standard feature (perhaps because less paint is needed). Its smaller brakes are charged with retarding far less curb weight, 2,512 vs. 4,145 pounds.

Both cars have reasonably raked windshields and so no need for extra-deep instrument panels. But here the similarity of their driving positions ends. To achieve a 47/53 weight distribution, Ferrari mounted the FF’s long engine entirely behind the front axle, yielding a very long hood. For less obvious reasons, the FF also happens to be very wide. Consequently, while the FF might feel lighter than it is, it doesn’t feel smaller than it is. Instead, it feels at least as large as a Panamera, and similar in overall character. The tape measure reports similar dimensions (193.2 x 76.9 x 54.3 inches vs. 195.6 x 76.0 x 55.8). The FF has less length abaft the driver but more inches ahead, and you sit a little lower behind a taller instrument panel and longer hood. But, compared to the driving position in one of the science fiction experiments from Lamborghini, the FF’s is downright practical.

The Abarth’s driving position occupies the opposite extreme. You sit so high that the car feels tippy even though, once the firm suspension takes a set, it’s not. Seat adjustments are far more limited than in the Ferrari, and unless you’re in the left tail of the bell curve you won’t be using the one for height. There’s far less hood ahead of you, and you don’t see the little there is. Excellent for forward visibility, not so good for sporting character.

During my test drive, where the FF’s suspension remained well within its capabilities, the car felt every bit as balanced as one with a 47/53 weight distribution should. The throttle can be used to nudge the rear end around, and the FF feels more lively than the typical all-wheel-drive car, perhaps because in balls-short-of-the-wall dry road driving the front wheels are declutched. The FF’s steering is light yet fairly communicative and shockingly quick (perhaps even too quick for such a large car). Compared to a Porsche Panamera, it takes longer (and longer than I had) to become acclimated behind the control-festooned wheel of the FF. The Porsche, while also feeling like a super-sized sports car, is a more intuitive car to drive quickly. But even in casual driving the FF engages. Once everything is tweaked to taste (a mind-boggling number of adjustments are available, but unlike in the FIAT the settings appear to be retained when the car is turned off) and the Ferrari becomes familiar it would no doubt be the more satisfying car to drive.

Simply due to its could-hardly-be-more-different dimensions, proportions, and weight distribution (64/36), the Abarth handles much differently. Contrary to some other reports, understeer isn’t excessive, but you’ll never forget that the FIAT is a tall, nose-heavy, front-wheel-drive car. Despite its much more compact dimensions and lesser weight (1,600 vs. 1,950 pounds) over narrower front tires (205/40ZR17 vs. 245/35ZR20), the Abarth’s steering is less communicative and lacks the quickness I expect in a tiny hatchback. No surprise given its much shorter wheelbase (90.6 vs. 117.7 inches), higher center of gravity, and far less sophisticated suspension, the Abarth also doesn’t ride nearly as smoothly as the Ferrari. The FF might also have the Panamera beat in this last aspect.

The FIAT 500 Abarth starts at $22,700. The 17-inch wheels add one grand. Leather adds another. A convenience package, nav, and red mirrors plus stripes (a box I’d uncheck) bumped the tested car’s price to $26,200. On the one hand, this seems a little steep given the car’s size, performance potential, and amenities. Another thousand will get you a roomier, much more capable and considerably more enjoyable MazdaSpeed3. On the other hand, the Abarth’s price is well under one-tenth of the Ferrari’s. The FF is theoretically available for just $298,750. But options added over $60,000 to the car I drove, and over $100,000 to another in the showroom. Air freight (not included in the sub-300 price) added $5,000 to a car that had been shipped to Michigan, $9,000 to one that had originally deplaned in Arizona. It’s not clear if the gas guzzler tax is included in the base price or buried in a substantial “other options” figure (both cars included far more items than could fit on the window sticker).

So, which Italian hatchback is the best one for you? The FF is an exercise in what happens when cost isn’t much of an object and the sheet starts clean. You fit a highly-tuned, naturally-aspirated V12 for seamless power, mount it far back for balance, pair it with an automated manual for quick responses, and employ all-wheel-drive on an as-needed basis for traction. The apparently unavoidable downsides of all this optimization are size, weight, and cost. Enough money fixes the last, and the second isn’t terribly evident, but the first doesn’t ever go away. The FF is very much the ultimate expression (until its replacement arrives) of the GT concept. For similar performance in a smaller car, you’re going to have to give up some cylinders, the rear seat, a lot of luggage capacity, or all of the above.

Perhaps you want a tidier hatchback that can be more fully exploited on public roads at legal speeds. Or your budget simply doesn’t extend north of $300,000. But you also want Italian style complete with red highlights everywhere the Ferrari has them and tricolor fender badges. Then the Abarth is the obvious choice.

Cauley Ferrari in West Bloomfield, MI, provided the FF. For those with smaller budgets, Cauley also operates a used car dealership with its heart in the right place—you’ll find no boring cars on the lot. They can be reached at 866-353-8629.

FIAT provided the 500 Abarth with insurance and a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates truedelta.com, a provider of car reliability and pricing information.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/fiat-abarth-ferrari-ff/feed/ 33
Fiat Feeling GILTy, Offers $5,000 Off A 500C Or Abarth http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/fiat-feeling-gilty-offers-5000-off-a-500c-or-abarth/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/fiat-feeling-gilty-offers-5000-off-a-500c-or-abarth/#comments Tue, 24 Jul 2012 16:32:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=454041

Gilt, a subscription-based fashion deal website, was offering an incredible deal on two hot Fiat products. $5,000 off a Fiat 500C or Fiat 500 Abarth.

No more information is available at the Gilt website, but TTAC reader Robstar said that the deal involved

“$5k deposit, refunded at purchase of a fiat 500 cabrio for $9,999

$5k deposit, refunded at purchase of a fiat 500 abarth for $15,999″

A package deal for a Gucci Edition 500 and a trip to Italy is still available for $27, 750, not including a $5,000 deposit. Purchases must buy the vehicle from a local Fiat retailer, at which point Gilt will refund the $5,000 deposit. Not that Fiat has had trouble moving the Abarth

 

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/fiat-feeling-gilty-offers-5000-off-a-500c-or-abarth/feed/ 13
QOTD: Did Fiat Just Inadvertently Reveal The 500T? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/qotd-did-fiat-just-inadvertently-reveal-the-500t/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/qotd-did-fiat-just-inadvertently-reveal-the-500t/#comments Mon, 16 Jul 2012 14:34:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=452926 Click here to view the embedded video.

While sitting through the new Pitbull-scored Fiat 500 ad, a model at :49 seconds in caught my eye – it looks a lot like the leaked photos of the 500T, which supposedly carries a version of the Abarth’s 1.4L turbo engine.

I’ll let you be the judge and tell me if I’m wrong, but the resemblance is uncanny. The Abarth-style bumper is clearly visible in the shot. So did Fiat goof, or was this intentional?

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/qotd-did-fiat-just-inadvertently-reveal-the-500t/feed/ 15
Fiat 500T, Abarth Convertible Coming In 2013? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/fiat-500t-abarth-convertible-coming-in-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/fiat-500t-abarth-convertible-coming-in-2013/#comments Tue, 10 Apr 2012 20:52:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=439213

Car and Driver is reporting yet another model for the Fiat 500 lineup, using a detuned version of the Abarth 1.4L turbo engine in more discreet packaging. The model, dubbed the 500T, will also arrive in tandem with a 500C Abarth.

The C/D folks uncovered government documents showing evidence of both a coming 500T Sport, as well as a 500C Abarth. The 500T Sport will likely use the European-spec Abarth motor, rated at 133 horsepower (ours gets 160, while the rest of the world can buy modification kits to boost output), as well as the Abarth’s elongated front bumper, to accommodate the larger turbo and intercooler setup. Photos of the 500T Sport surfaced at a Fiat fan site earlier this year, and the visual changes appear minimal. The Abarth 500C is pretty self-explanatory. A slower, heavier, wind-in-your-hair version of the Abarth that few of us will get excited about.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/fiat-500t-abarth-convertible-coming-in-2013/feed/ 16
Fiat 500 Abarth Starting At $22,000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/fiat-500-abarth-starting-at-22000/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/fiat-500-abarth-starting-at-22000/#comments Wed, 11 Jan 2012 20:17:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=425615

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.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/fiat-500-abarth-starting-at-22000/feed/ 43