There are some vehicles on this world that simply convey me pleasure. My daily-driver Mazda Miata is one, the Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet ZR2 are others, and final week I acquired acquainted with one other joyful little runabout, the 2017 Fiat 500C Abarth.
The Abarth was first launched to the present Fiat lineup in 2012, enjoying on the heritage of the Italian Abarth racing workforce of yore. It sits above the naturally aspirated 500 and under the bigger 500L when it comes to worth, and goes miles above them each when it comes to enjoyable.
The Fiat has been round for a couple of years, however it hasn’t misplaced any of its back-road zest.
The 500 Abarth sports activities a 1.Four-liter MultiAir turbocharged engine, good for 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque when mated to a five-speed handbook transmission. A six-speed computerized is obtainable, leading to a bit much less horsepower and a bit extra torque, however it is a automobile that deserves the handbook. Having mentioned that, the gearbox may very well be a bit tighter, however its place excessive on the middle stack, near the steering wheel, makes for fast gear adjustments. I regularly wound the factor up throughout my drive, reveling within the raucous exhaust be aware and poppy backfires when shifting. This factor may look lovely, however it sounds offended.
Do not let the cutsey appears to be like of the 500 idiot you, the Abarth is a certifiable sports activities automobile. In contrast with the usual 500, the Abarth has stiffer suspension due to modified spring charges, distinctive management arms and a beefy 22-millimeter rear stabilizer bar. I flung this child across the twisties at speeds that may give my mom a coronary heart assault, and the Abarth by no means wavered. The steering is fast, weighted on the heavy facet, and provides as a lot suggestions as anticipated from an electronically boosted setup. Greater brakes impressed me to maintain accelerating a bit longer earlier than slowing for a flip.
And pleasure? Even with the marginally sloppy transmission, the Abarth jogged my memory that a cheap automobile would not should be a boring equipment. Each stoplight became a dragstrip countdown, each flip turned the famed Corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Even simply cruising alongside on the freeway, a easy downshift to fourth and a mash on the throttle made the wee little Abarth zip across the cumbersome vehicles that all the time appear to take up the quick lane.
I drove regularly in sport mode, not solely as a result of the cluster modified to a racy tachometer and a wide-open throttle gauge, exhibiting how a lot my foot was buried on the gasoline, but in addition as a result of it is solely in sport mode that each one 170 pound-feet of torque can be found in each gear. In regular mode, torque is proscribed in first and second gear for higher effectivity. EPA gas rankings are 30 miles per gallon mixed, about the identical because the Mini Cooper convertible and the Mazda Miata.
My tester got here with the non-compulsory Pirelli P-Zero tires mounted on 17-inch wheels. The stickier tires are well worth the $1,395 upcharge they usually undoubtedly assist restrict understeer, regardless of the Abarth’s 64/36 weight distribution.
Whereas the 500C is technically a convertible, I would name it extra of a glorified sunroof. The fabric prime can absolutely retract at speeds of as much as 50 miles per hour, however it’s not a full droptop like on the Fiat 124. As an alternative the b- and c-pillars are left intact in addition to the complete outdoors body of the roof. As such, these with delicate ears may need an issue. I needed to roll down at the least one window to get the air strain to equalize and relieve the discomfort in my ears.
The Abarth will get a enjoyable and funky inside, simply do not count on any expertise. Our tester did not even have computerized headlights.
Like different vehicles at this worth level, the Abarth is fairly gentle on driver aids and expertise. It has a backup digicam, a really primary model of the wonderful Uconnect infotainment system and a USB port, however that is about it. Cruise management is normal, however do not even give it some thought working in stop-and-go visitors. Heck, there aren’t even computerized headlights. I needed to flip them on and off myself prefer it was 2004.
I might have welcomed blind-spot monitoring, even in a automobile this small. The b-pillar is correct within the driver’s facet blind spot, making it powerful to see bikes or smaller automobiles. An extra small facet mirror helps considerably, however be ready to look, then look once more earlier than altering lanes.
The 2017 Fiat 500C Abarth begins at $21,490, whereas the onerous prime is simply $19,995. That could be a smokin’ deal for all this enjoyable. Included within the worth is sooner or later of instruction at Bondurant Faculty of Excessive Efficiency Driving, so you possibly can wring probably the most out of your little pint-sized thrill-mobile.