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    Review: 2015 Fiat 500C Abarth


    • Driving a drop top during a frigid week


    Every automotive writer has a wish list of absurd ideas they would like to do. I have been very lucky to cross one of those items off my list - driving a $130,000+ vehicle for a week. A couple weeks back I was able to cross another item off that list: Driving a open-top vehicle in the winter. What vehicle afforded me the chance to accomplish this wish? It happens to be one of the smallest and sportiest open-top vehicles on sale today; the 2015 Fiat 500C Abarth.

    The Fiat 500 is one of the most iconic designs in the automotive world with its short and rounded shape that offered enough space for a small family, while having a price tag that everyone could afford. When it came to designing the new 500, designers took the basic shape and gave it a bit of a modern twist. The new 500 is slightly large, but retains the short front end and rounded cabin area. Abarth models give the 500 some attitude with a 0.7-inch suspension drop, Abarth badging on the front and rear; stripes running along the bottom edge of the doors, new wheels with a red scorpion cap, and a rear diffuser.

    Now this being the 500C, Fiat did something clever with the transition to a convertible. Instead of hacking off all of the roof, Fiat left the roof rails in place and installed a canvas top. By leaving the roof rails, it allows the 500C to retain a fair bit of structural integrity without fully resorting to adding rigidity towards to the bottom of the vehicle. Now the canvas top allows the driver to have it open in various positions such as a panoramic sunroof to fully open. The downside is when the top is fully open, it scrunches up at the bottom and causes a major blind spot to appear. I wish Fiat could figure out a way to stow away the top or at least offer a backup camera and blind spot monitoring. During my testing, the Detroit area had some of coldest temperatures with lows dipping into -20F. I was worried that the canvas top would make the week unbearable, but the top was able to retain the heat and make it a pleasant place to be in.

    The Abarth’s interior is very much full of sporting intentions paired with a bit of retro styling. The dash boasts a large piece of grey plastic with the 500C name on the passenger side to evoke the 500’s past when the dashboard was metal. This is paired with such details as sport seats wrapped in black cloth and a new steering wheel with stitching. Seats are mostly comfortable and provide excellent support in enthusiastic driving. Oddly, the seating position has you feeling like you’re sitting on a stool. I thought the seating position worked, while others complain about it. Your opinion may vary on this. Even though the 500 has seating for four, it's best to think to think of it as a two-seater as there is no legroom.

    2015 Fiat 500C Abarth 12

    My test Abarth came with equipped the Beats audio system. The optional system includes six-speakers, an eight-inch subwoofer, and a new amplifier. The optional system is impressive with providing excellent sound no matter what I played through it. I wished Fiat could have done a little bit more sound deadening so I didn’t have the volume up as much to try and drown out wind and road noise. The Abarth also included an optional TomTom navigation system. While it might look a little out of place, I have to give Fiat credit for hiding the power cable and other bits inside the dash.

    See the next page for thoughts on powertrain and driving experience.


    Powering the Abarth is a turbocharged 1.4L MultiAir four-cylinder with 157 horsepower and 183 pound-feet of torque (or 170 pound-feet when equipped with the manual). My tester was fitted with the optional six-speed automatic, while a five-speed manual is standard. Start the 500C Abarth up and you’ll be inundated with one of the sweetest engine sounds on sale. With cracking and popping, this engine is a joy to work. Aside from the sweet noises, the engine is quite spunky. Power comes on fast and gets the Abarth moving at a decent clip. The six-speed automatic provides crisp shifts, though I found the shift logic a bit wonky as it tended to hold gears slightly longer than I was expecting. Fuel economy is rated at 24 City/32 Highway/27 combined. My week saw an average of 26 MPG.

    Out on the curvy bits, the Abarth shows off what it can do. The stiff suspension provides excellent body control and doesn’t make your passengers feel sick. Now the Abarth is a little bit twitchy due to the suspension and small tires, but it is easily controllable thanks to the engine and steering which possesses good weight. I did wish the steering had a little bit more feel. You might think the stiff suspension would make the ride unbearable, but the Abarth isn’t that unpleasant. The ride is bouncy, but you don’t feel like your spine is being shaken out. This may get old if you decide to take a long trip, along with loud exhaust that provides those sweet engine notes. I wonder if Fiat could look into a dual-mode exhaust into cutting back the noise for those times when need it.

    2015 Fiat 500C Abarth 10

    Despite the cold weather, the Fiat 500C Abarth proved to be amazing vehicle. Its has the looks and engine note to get noticed. Plus the handling and performance that can give you a big grin. Some may wish the 500 Abarth was a little bit more button down like the MINI Cooper in corners, but I think it would take away something from the model - its character. Few can match the 500C Abarth for driving fun and noise - even when its 20 below outside.

    Disclaimer: Fiat Provided the 500C Abarth, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2015

    Make: Fiat

    Model: 500C

    Trim: Abarth

    Engine: 1.4L Turbocharged, MultiAir SOHC Four-Cylinder

    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 157 @ 5,500

    Torque @ RPM: 183 @ 2,400 - 4,000

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/32/27

    Curb Weight: 2,545 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Toluca, Mexico

    Base Price: $26,395

    As Tested Price: $32,045 (Includes $850.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Heavy-Duty Six-Speed Automatic Transmission - $1,350.00

    Comfort/Convenience Group - $900.00

    Beats Audio Package - $700.00

    TomTom Navigation with BLUE&ME - $600.00

    16-Inch Aluminum Wheels - $550.00

    Black Mirror Cap with Body Side Stripe - $450.00

    Black Trimmed Lights - $250.00

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    It would seem on initial go over that Abarth put quality into the auto that Fiat clearly is lacking. Now to see just how long these last. A coworker has one of these at work and at 27K miles it is shooting blue smoke. He as an appointment to go into the dealership about the blue smoke.

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    Changed the pic:

     

    1950NashRamblerConvertible-a3.jpg

     

    In retrospect, ^ this move is generally seen as 'cheaping out' vs. a true convertible. :shrug:
    Note that somehow Rambler figured out how to do a properly stowed top 65 years ago. Good luck, fiat, open a book once in a while.

     

    - - - - -

    Curious as to the definition of "small family" because the fiat lends new dimension to the descriptor "tight" WRT interior room. Packaging is good, but who cares about exterior relative size when you are eating your kneecaps in the back seat.

    Edited by balthazar
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    Around here in Seattle plenty of Horror stories about the 500. Mostly a lemon from the first day of purchase. Around Seattle you can find plenty of used Fiat 500 all with milage below 10K for around 10K in price and if you go to the 500L you can find them below 10K around the 12-15K price.

     

    You have to ask when you see so many low mileage cars priced so low. What is the common denominator.  

     

    Clicked on a few that had free carfax reports and the one thing I noticed is they all spent considerable time in the shop being repaired. Not good for reliability.

     

    Balthazar the pic loads for me but is a black pick with faint white outline of the auto.

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    Wow that fiat actually looks relatively sporty and pretty nice! I haven't thought of Fiat as very sporty cars compared to the past, but I guess they have kind of held under their own now! I kind of like the styling of the 500c Arbarth, it reminds me of a volkswagen beetle, but without the overall uncormfortable aspect of it. Nice review and keep them comming!

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    Changed the pic:

     

    1950NashRamblerConvertible-a3.jpg

     

    In retrospect, ^ this move is generally seen as 'cheaping out' vs. a true convertible. :shrug:

    Note that somehow Rambler figured out how to do a properly stowed top 65 years ago. Good luck, fiat, open a book once in a while.

     

    - - - - -

    Curious as to the definition of "small family" because the fiat lends new dimension to the descriptor "tight" WRT interior room. Packaging is good, but who cares about exterior relative size when you are eating your kneecaps in the back seat.

     

    The Fiat 500 doesn't have a trunk, it is basically a 1-box design. 

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    • By William Maley
      Like life, reviewing vehicles sometimes mean having a curveball thrown your way. Originally, I was going to be reviewing the Chrysler 200 before its production run would end. Sadly, the 200 was pulled out of Chrysler’s test fleet before I was able to drive. But sometimes, that curveball can be a positive. In this case, a Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn would take its place. More importantly, it would be equipped with the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. We like this engine in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. How would it fare in the Ram 1500? Quite well.
      The EcoDiesel V6 in question is a turbocharged 3.0L with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our test truck came with four-wheel drive, but you can order the EcoDiesel with two-wheel drive. The EcoDiesel might not have the roar or performance figures of the 5.7L V8 (0-60 takes about 9 seconds for the diesel compared to just a hair over 7 seconds for the V8), but it is a very capable engine. There is a lot of punch on the low end of the rpm band and the engine never feels that it is running out of breath the higher you climb in speed.  You can tell the EcoDiesel is a diesel during start up as it has distinctive clatter. Also, it takes a few seconds for the engine to start up if you let the truck sit for awhile. But once the engine is going, you can’t really tell its a diesel. Whether you’re standing outside or sitting inside, the V6 is quiet and smooth. The eight-speed automatic is one of the best transmissions in the class as it delivers imperceptible gear changes. In terms of towing, the EcoDiesel V6 has a max tow rating of 9,210 pounds (regular cab with 2WD). The crew cab with 4WD drops the max tow rating to 8,610 pounds. This does trail the V8 considerably (max tow rating of 10,640). But the EcoDiesel makes up for this in terms of fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined for the EcoDiesel equipped 4WD. Our average for the week was a not too shabby 23.4 mpg. This generation of the Ram 1500 has garnered a reputation for having one of the best rides in the class. We can’t disagree. The coil-spring setup on the rear suspension smooths out bumps and other road imperfections very well.  Our truck also featured the optional air suspension which is more focused on improving the capability of the pickup and not ride comfort. There are five different ride height settings that allow for easier access when getting in and out of a truck to increasing ground clearance when going off-road. The air suspension will also level out the truck if there is a heavy load in the bed or pulling a trailer. The Ram 1500’s exterior look hasn’t really changed much since we reviewed one back in 2014. Up front is a large crosshair grille finished in chrome and large rectangular headlights with LED daytime running lights. The Laramie Longhorn features it own design cues such as two-tone paint finish, 20-inch wheels, and large badges on the front doors telling everyone which model of Ram you happen to be driving. Inside, the Laramie Longhorn is well appointed with real wood trim on the dash and steering wheel, high-quality leather upholstery for the seats, and acres of soft-touch plastics. Some will snicker at the seat pockets that are designed to look saddle bags, complete with a chrome clasp.  Comfort-wise, the Laramie Longhorn’s interior scores very high. The seats provide excellent support for long trips, and no one sitting in the back will be complaining about the lack of head and legroom. One nice touch is all of the seats getting heat as standard equipment, while the front seats get ventilation as well. The UConnect system is beginning to show its age with an interface that is looking somewhat dated and certain tasks taking a few seconds more than previous versions. There is an updated UConnect system that debuted on the 2017 Pacifica with a tweaked interface and quicker performance. Hopefully, this is in the cards for the 2017 Ram 1500. As for pricing, the Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 comes with a base price $52,365. With options including the 3.0L EcoDiesel, our as-tested price was $60,060. Sadly this is the new reality for pickup trucks. Many buyers want the luxuries and features found on standard vehicles and are willing to pay for it. The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 can justify the price for what it offers, but it is still a lot of money to drop. The nice thing about the Ram 1500 is the number of trims on offer. You’ll be able to find a model that should fit your needs and price range. Personally, I would be happy with a Big Horn or Laramie as they would offer everything I would want or need in a truck. But if you want something luxurious with a cowboy twist, you can’t go wrong with Laramie Longhorn. The EcoDiesel is just the cherry on top.   
      Disclaimer: Ram Trucks Provided the 1500, Insurance, and One Tank of Diesel
      Year: 2016
      Make: Ram Trucks
      Model: 1500 Crew Cab
      Trim: Laramie Longhorn
      Engine: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 3,600
      Torque @ RPM: 420 @ 2,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Warren, MI
      Base Price: $52,365
      As Tested Price: $60,060 (Includes $1,195.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - $3,120.00
      4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,695.00
      Wheel to Wheel Side Steps - $600.00
      Convenience Group - $495.00
      Trailer Brake Control - $280.00
      Cold Weather Group - $235.00
      3.92 Rear Axle Ratio - $75.00

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