2015 Fiat 500 Abarth

2015 Fiat 500 Abarth Review

The little engine that couldn't, but sounds like it could.

By: David Merline

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: April 24th, 2015

The Fiat 500 is a small, affordable city car that gets excellent mileage and is fun to drive hard, despite its lack of real power. The Abarth is a slightly hot-rodded version of the 500, named in honor of the one-time Italian sports car manufacturer that was purchased by Fiat in 1971.

The biggest change to the 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth is the addition of an automatic transmission to the option sheet, but there is also a bigger screen (of course), and a redesigned center console. The Abarth is the most expensive of all the (very) many 500 trim levels, taking a car with a base MSRP of $17,000 up to $27,000 (loaded with options). Is the Abarth worth the extra money? Depends on how much you like exhaust notes.

  • Exterior

    The Abarth edition is the performance version of the Fiat 500, and is therefore emblazoned with decals and badges to announce its superiority. This will appeal to those who want their cars to look faster than they are, and that is the precisely the audience the Fiat 500 Abarth is looking to exploit.

    The Abarth badge is nifty, and packed with all kinds of historical significance (even though the current company is just a division of FCA), but we'd recommend skipping the giant scorpion decal on the roof, which will no doubt disintegrate after several robust washes, and even the sill-height Abarth decals. There's something particularly tacky about advertising that you have a fancier version of a relatively low-priced car. But if ostentatious displays are your thing, by all means, decal the hell out of it.

    The 500 itself remains a wonder of modern design. It performs the somewhat remarkable trick of capturing the essence of the classic 500, while actually looking quite a bit different.

    Looking different is what the 500 does best. There aren't really any other cars on the road like it, which makes the 500 Abarth the best way to stand out from the crowd without spending considerably more money.

  • Interior

    : The improvements to the interior of the 2015 models are not extensive, but they are significant. Fiat has expanded the screen area, both for the nav/infotainment screen, and for the secondary display within the instrument cluster.

    Both of these improvements help make the Abarth feel a tad more upscale, which is nice, considering that it's far from cheap (our tester priced out at $27,000, which is an awful lot to pay for any Fiat 500, no matter how "performance-oriented" it is).

    Still, the interior is sporty, but not uncomfortable. It's much roomier than it might appear from the outside, and the sport seats are suitably bracing and straight-backed, but still comfortable enough to make a long-distance drive something you won't bristle at.

    The signature Abarth engine noise, as wonderful as it is, never really goes away, and, frankly, it gets a little tiring after a few hours. On the other hand, it will help keep you awake.

    The sound system is woefully underpowered, especially since its constantly competing with both road noise and engine noise. We found it necessary to pin the levels at times, but then again, we like our music LOUD.

  • On the Road

    The Abarth is the sport trim, so of course you expect the performance to be enhanced, compared to the regular 500. We have no doubt that this is so (the tuning and suspension are unique to the Abarth, as are the brakes and wheels), but if you're expecting a car goes as fast as its decals imply, you might be disappointed.

    Ah, but that engine noise! It's Ferrari-worthy almost, and definitely Porsche-worthy. It's a badass sound that makes your intentions clear and warns others to give you a wide berth.

    The only thing is, if others do give you a wide berth, they may spend a while waiting for your car to catch up to your VROOOOOOOOOOOM, because the Abarth only goes from 0-60 in just under 7 seconds. That's not bad, but it's not the kind of speed you expect out of a car that sounds like a supercar.

    That said, there's no question that the Abarth is the only Fiat 500 to buy. It's a blast to drive, even if you won't be winning any drag races, and in case we haven't mentioned it enough yet, there's that unbelievable engine BWAAAAAAAAAAA that we frankly can't get enough of.

  • Conclusion

    With its improved suspension and handling, and its second-to-none race-car-sounding turbocharged I-4, the Abarth is, for our money, the only 500 to consider. It has everything the normal 500 has, except it's all a bit better, and much, much louder. The only question - and it's a big one - is would you pay close to $30,000 for a 500, even a kind of fast one?

  • Specs & Prices

    Engine: 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four

    Transmission: Five-speed manual

    Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, front-wheel drive

    Power Output: 160 hp / 170 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 28 city / 34 highway

    Base Price: $22,395

    As Tested: $27,549 (incl. $900 destination)

    Available Features:

    Scorpion Package: Abarth fuel filler, Abarth license plate frame, scorpion roof graphic, Abarth slush mats

    Individual Options: Beats audio system with SiriusXM, TomTom navigation, heated front seats

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