One of the great benefits of capitalism is choice. As a result, just about every car model worth its salt comes with a bevy of options. I’m not just talking leather seats either. The base Fiat 500 comes in three versions: Pop, Sport, and Lounge. Now turn the Sport up a notch or two and you have the Abarth. The types of cars I’m most interested in, are usually the performance versions of more practical cars. For example, the Golf GTI, the WRX STI, the BMW M3. Here at Fiat500Abarth.US (do we need a better name? I feel like we do), the Abarth is of course our favorite performance model.
By getting a Fiat 500, I’d already be compromising on performance quite a bit. I’m not delusional, I know that even the Abarth Esseesse will get dusted by just about any turbocharged car with performance aspirations. What the 500 gives up in pure speed however, it gains in style, fun, parking practicality, fuel efficiency, and price. Whenever I’ve chosen practicality over performance for my daily driver, I’ve squeezed out as much of that leftover performance as possible. Once I’ve decided on a particular model line, I can’t settle for anything less than the most horsepower, least weight available. That’s why I drive a GTI and not just a Golf and before that I drove a Twin Turbo 300ZX and not just a naturally aspirated version. It’s hard to settle for anything less when you know that sport or turbo version is available.
One of the options I thought I’d never compromise on, is having a hard top. I’ve always thought, and just about every Top Gear review confirms this, that a convertible adds weight, kills handling, and adds cost for something that just isn’t worth it. Not to mention that most soft tops look like someone came in after the designer finished their work, chopped off the top and replaced it with a tent. One thing Fiat never seems to do, is compromise on style. So of course the “convertible” 500 looks just as good as the hard top version. Fiat achieved this by simply not giving us a true convertible. Instead of a fully retractable roof, the cloth top folds back between fixed roof rails. The profile view of the 500 looks the same and I would assume the roof rails keep some structural rigidity, even if the center is missing.
So what’s the logical apex of all this? What model combines all of my favorite aspects of the Fiat 500 model line? This is just like, my opinion, man, but I think the Fiat 500c Abarth is the best possible 500 in existence. It has everything! All of the “lifestyle” perks of the 500C, with that secret soft-top hidden between the roof line and that even more secret turbo-powered engine hidden underneath the hood, providing, hopefully, 175 horsepower. If they throw in a manual gearbox and whatever form the Esseesse package takes here in the US, I’ll have one!
Please, please Fiat/Chrysler, bring the 500c Abarth to the U.S.A.! I think you’ll have a few buyers. For more perspectives, here are some more reviews of the car: