By the way an Abarth fires up, you wouldn’t expect that a car this small can make noise that big. In a standard model Fiat 500, I imagine being pointed and laughed at; in the Abarth, they’ll point, laugh and somehow manage a violent succession of thumbs up as if your name was Skrillex and you had just “dropped the bass”. That’s how shockingly entertaining and fun this car is to drive. In a time when smaller cars are becoming a popular option for younger urbanites, the Italian-bred Fiat 500 Abarth comes in, not only to join the cool crowd, but to step in as peacocking alpha-male—all thanks to the Abarth legacy that helped drive the Fiat brand in its early years. It didn’t hurt that they put out a mega viral Super Bowl commercial featuring the ultra babe-alicious, Catrinel Menghia to help get the promotion going.
The Abarth name is more than just a premium edition 500, however—the name carries an impressive racing legacy thanks to Karl Abarth, the man who helped transform the original 500 into a winner (literally), by developing parts under the Abarth & C division. To spare you any deep details, just know the man has 10,000 individual race victories, 10 world records and 133 international titles to his name—needless to say, tweaking cars to make them perform their best was his mission. Modern-day Fiat uses the Abarth spirit to create this, and we’re sure it would be something he’d be proud of.
Obviously, the Abarth sets itself apart with more aggressive styling cues over the standard model 500—it’s certainly more aerodynamic with a front end that not only looks great, but serves as an aid to the turbocharged MultiAir motor with intakes to draw in plenty of air for intercooler performance and engine cooling. The side profile shows off Abarth-spec graphics and side skirts while the rear bumper completes the look with twin tailpipes. It’s a clear night and day difference between this and a standard 500; like a before and after shot of someone in a Hydroxycut ad. Inside, it’s still a bit cramped for space; you won’t be hauling furniture home from Ikea or more than one extra person in the back seat. The Abarth comes with cool little interior touches, like a boost/shift light combo gauge on the steering column—something you’ll enjoy winding up from one stoplight to the next. And we did, a lot. This car was so fun to drive, it reminded us of a Dodge SRT-4—similar exhaust note (rumbly and almost too loud at times)—yet packaged infinitely sexier. Besides, girls always smile at you if you’re in a Fiat; the SRT-4, you’re lucky if anyone looks at you—without shaking their head.
What can you expect if you’re one who can’t leave a car stock? Fiat has you covered—through its US connection to Mopar, you’ll have access to factory supported performance accessories. If you crave more of a European vibe, you can also opt for the Euro market parts, as demonstrated on Fiat’s one-off Venom 500, which sports Magneti Marelli-edition components, including carbon-fiber body parts, boost controller, Bombardone exhaust and 17” wheels, just to name a few. Parts interchange easily since this model is a global release, and with a little imagination, the right combination of parts, as the Venom 500 shows, even your little Abarth can inch up to the 200hp mark. Not bad for the little guy…
I have two words to describe the Fiat Abarth... it’s zippy and cute. This car is a total guy magnet. Ha! It did get a lot of attention on the road. I’m not sure if it was because of the loud engine coming out of such a small car or the white-on-white exterior (I could have done without the graphics). The car handled really well, is definitely roomy enough for a couple and maybe a dog in the back seat. - Bernice