What's the Abarth like with manual?
The last time I drove a Fiat 500C Abarth, it with six-speed automatic. I found it to be quite a cheeky vehicle with an exhaust note that makes you think you’re driving something a bit more powerful and a look that helped it stand out. But I couldn’t help but wonder how the Abarth is with the manual transmission. About a couple of months ago, I slipped behind the wheel of another 500C Abarth, this time with the manual. The end result was a bit of a letdown.
- The manual transmission in question is a five-speed and it isn’t any fun to use. The throw is somewhat long and imprecise. A few times, I found myself going into the wrong gear because I couldn’t tell where I was in the gear pattern. Not helping matters is the clutch which not only has a long travel, but it isn’t easy to find the takeoff point. This is one of those vehicles where the automatic makes more sense.
- The turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder produces 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. The engine is quite the performer with power coming on strong at low rpm. Engage the Sport mode and the engine becomes more spritely.
- Some reviews criticize the 500 Abarth’s suspension for being a bit too soft for a performance model. I really don’t see that as I think the Abarth strikes a good balance between handling and ride comfort. Yes, the Abarth will show a little bit more body roll in the corners. But it doesn’t detract from the quick direction change the vehicle is able to pull off thanks to its short wheelbase. The ride is slightly bouncy over bumps, but it isn’t to the point of annoyance.
- One area that the Abarth could use some improvement is in the steering. A little bit more road feel and weight would not be a bad thing for a performance hatch.
- If you happen to be a shrinking violet, then pass on getting the yellow paint like on my tester. The level of ‘LOOK AT ME’ is turned up to 11.
- Fiat will say the 500C is a convertible, but it is more of a targa - the roof rails and pillars stay up, and the canvas roof folds. But I do like that you can open or close it at speed.
- Visibility must have a different meaning in Italian than English since the view from the rear is almost nonexistent with the top up or down.
- The interior hasn’t changed much which is both good and bad. The good is the retro styling that adds a bit of charm. The bad are how the front seats feel like you're sitting on a stool. If there was a height adjustment for the seats or a telescoping adjustment for the steering wheel, this would ok. But since there isn’t, you’ll find yourself in a somewhat awkward seating position.
- As for pricing, the 500C Abarth with the manual begins at $26,695. With options, the as-tested price came to $31,695. The automatic if you wondering adds $1,350 to the price.
- But there is some good news over the horizon. Fiat will be cutting prices on a number of their models for 2017, with the biggest ones coming to the 500C. It might be worth waiting for the 2017 model since a lower price could make it slightly easier to convince yourself that you can live with something that is quite small, but packs a lot of character. But be sure to go with the automatic.
Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 500C Abarth, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Engine: Turbocharged 1.4L 16-Valve MultiAir Four-Cylinder
Driveline: Five-Speed Manual, Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 160 @ 5,500
Torque @ RPM: 170 @ 2,500-4,000
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/34/30
Curb Weight: 2,545 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Toluca, Mexico
Base Price: $26,695
As Tested Price: $31,965 (Includes $995 Destination Charge)
17-inch Forged Aluminum Hyper Black Wheels - $1,400.00
Popular Equipment Package - $975.00
Beats Audio Package - $700.00
Giallo Moderna Perla (Modern Pearl Yellow) - $500.00
Nero (Black) Mirror Cap with Body Side Stripe - $450.00
Nero (Black) Trimmed Lights - $250.00