Already hailed by Top Gear as the Hot Hatch of the year, the Abarth is the Fiat 500 we’ve been waiting for, and today it lands in UK showrooms.
The 500 has been a triumph for Fiat. A cracking recreation of the original 500, the new 500 conspires to be timeless, classless and affordable. No mean feat. Admittedly, it’s a bit to cutesy for us, and a bit too soft to drive, but it’s been a big success, and the arrival in UK showrooms of the Abarth, and the unveiling of the 500C convertible yesterday, are only going to up sales.
The Abarth is going to be a big winner. Boasting a 1.4 turbo and managing 0-60 in 7.9 seconds it easily bests the Mini Cooper. It even manages a Sport button, which competently gives the car more feel and torque. Sitting on fatter tyres, and with a lowered suspension, the Abarth gets the go-faster bits that add kudos, such as bonnet vents, twin exhausts and a rear diffuser.
The interior gets a sporty re-trim, and is a good place to be. But the joy of the Abarth is the way it makes you feel. The speedo doesn’t count, the sensations do. It feels a lot like a Kart to drive, nimbly changing direction and accelerating with a pleasing growl.
On open roads it’s a joy in Sport mode, and around town it gets a bit softer and quieter with Sport turned off. But it’s noticeably more harsh than the standard offering, but that’s a small price to pay for the vim and vigour it puts at you disposal when you want it.
And if the 135bhp on the standard Abarth isn’t enough for you, Fiat dealers can relieve you of £2.5k to upgrade the Abarth to ‘esseesse’ spec (‘SS’ in Italian), which ups the power to 160bhp, adds beefed-up, ventilated discs and bigger wheels and rubber. In addition you get a sorted suspension and tyre pressure monitoring thrown in.
With a base price of £13,600, I can see this mad little Fiat going down a storm. And apart from the regular punters, I can see a whole heap of Supercar dealers queueing up for Fiat 500 Abarths as service courtesy cars!
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