For the Fiat 500 Abarth to be successful, it needs to attract customers that might otherwise be attracted to the Mini Cooper S or the Volkswagen Golf GTI. While in Europe the Fiat 500 might be in a smaller class, here in American they’re all just small hatchbacks and city cars, which puts them in direct competition. Today, we’re going to take a look at how the Abarth measures up against the Mini Cooper S in key value drivers such as price, performance and style.
There are no official numbers as yet, but now that the specs have been released, we can make an educated guess based on the UK pricing. We’d previously speculated an MSRP of $21,500, but now that we know the upgrades are superior to the European Esseesse, the price may be more like $24,000. Internet rumors place the Abarth definitely below $25,000, but how far below remains to be seen.
That higher price would put the Abarth in the same range as the Mini Cooper S, which has a base price of $23,850. However, Fiat would be smart to undercut the price of the Mini Cooper S, because while the Abarth is in higher demand, its performance doesn’t quite match up to the S, which we’ll discuss in further detail below.
On paper, the Mini beats out the Abarth on almost every performance level. The Mini sports a 1.6-liter engine instead of 1.4, 181-hp instead of 160, and a 6-speed transmission instead of the Abarth’s 5.
However, the Fiat catches up considerably when it comes to torque. The Mini S features 177 lb-ft at 1,600-5,000 RPM, while the Abarth delivers 170 lb-ft at 2,500-4,000 RPM.
That said, this is where the Abarth has a good chance to leverage pricing. Stability controls that are optional extras on the S come standard in the Abarth’s Torsion Transfer Control system. Also, the Abarth is considerably lighter, which makes its relative performance much more impressive.
If the Abarth delivers significant improvement in fuel efficiency over the base 500 model, it will have a serious advantage over the Mini. Even the base model’s 30-mpg city and 38-mpg highway ratings beat out the Mini’s 29-37 rating.
While official numbers have not been released regarding the EPA ratings for the new Abarth, Chrysler has stated that the Abarth will deliver a 7.5 percent increase in fuel efficiency and a 10 percent reduction in C02 emissions.
That said, the gas tank is smaller in the Abarth, which may limit its usefulness to longer drives.
Of course, style is in the eye of the beholder. But when you compare the profiles of the two cars, the Abarth definitely looks a little edgier and sportier. The black finish with the red racing stripes emphasize the Abarth’s classic Italian style, as opposed to the Mini Cooper S’s increased focus on “Cool Britannia.”
What the Abarth lacks in power, it makes up for in driving experience. There’s a better view of the road due to its high-mounted seats. There’s also more cargo space, which would make it more practical for some drivers.
Another advantage the Abarth has is its wheels. There are 16-inch and 17-inch Pirelli options, both of which are All-Season, which offer safer driving in bad-weather conidtions than the Mini Cooper S’s default Runflat Tires.
We’re still missing some crucial information about the Abarth, such as its final pricing, it’s 0-60 speed and its EPA ratings. While it doesn’t beat the Mini Cooper S in performance, it certainly matches it in other areas. So if Fiat sets the right price for the car, it could prove a hardy competitor to the Mini Cooper S.