Earlier this month, our friends at Winding Road had an opportunity to drive the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth as part of a comparison between the Abarth, the Mini Cooper S Coupe and the Hyundia Veloster Turbo. These three cars, each with base prices in the low $20,000 range, and similar in size and fuel economy, all got fantastic reviews. Also posted is a series of short YouTube videos showing the car’s exterior, exhaust note, and helmet-cam-POV views of some spirited driving.
Their write-up of the 500 Abarth is concise and thorough. Like many other publications, it applauds the car’s engine and namely the 171 lb-ft of torque, which “ensure plenty of off-the-line power.” Another highpoint of the drive-train is the turbo, which affords the 500 Abarth “a certain old-school tuner-car vibe.” The reviewers were particularly enthusiastic about the exhaust note, again recognized as one of the best sounding exhausts all year, and they back this up with their video, found here:
Their time with the Abarth was not without complaints, however; the narrow dimensions of the car made for compromise in terms of driving position. The reviewer describes a scarcity of either headroom or foot-room for taller drivers, and the lack of telescopic adjustment for the steering wheel is brought up as another negative. Also covered is the transmission: The 500 Abarth does not yet have a 6 speed transmission available and Winding Road feels that this is a detriment to fuel economy.
While the reviewers seemed to prefer the larger size of the Hyundai and the larger engine of the Mini, they recognize the Fiat’s presentation is the best of the cars tested. The enhanced Abarth visuals, which include the scorpion insignia and white alloy rims make the car pop visually, and the exhaust note and red trimmed interior make for the Abarth getting “the most looks while driving around town.”