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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.

Click here to view the article

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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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      New infotainment systems and features
      A new 6.5” display is included as standard, and features an updated and optimized user interface, Bluetooth mobile phone integration, and support for Bluetooth audio streaming. In addition, customers can specify a new 8.8” touchscreen navigation system with new user interface and greatly expanded features.  
      New options: telephony with wireless charging, MINI logo projection.
      The innovative optional equipment for the new MINI Hardtop 2 Door, the new MINI Hardtop 4 Door and the new MINI Convertible includes a wireless charging option. A storage compartment integrated in the centre armrest enables wireless charging of mobile phones which offer this capability. This option also adds a second USB port in the front section of the center console.
      For the first time, the MINI Hardtop 2 Door and MINI Hardtop 4 Door are available with a MINI logo projection feature. When the vehicle is opened and closed, the new MINI logo is projected onto the ground in front of the driver’s side door from a light source in the exterior mirror and can be seen there for 20 seconds, or permanently if the door is left open.
      MINI Connected: a range of digital services that is unique within the segment.
      With the new MINI Connected functions, MINI offers a diverse range of digital services at premium level that is unique in the small car segment. New features include Advanced Real Time Traffic Information with 4G LTE connectivity, support for Apple CarPlay, Connected Services, and intelligent emergency call.
      The personal mobility assistant feature of the MINI Connected smartphone app now enables drivers of the new MINI Hardtop 2 Door, the new MINI Hardtop 4 Door and the new MINI Convertible to integrate their vehicle and mobility planning seamlessly into their day-to-day digital routine. For example, MINI Connected can draw on calendar entries and contact data entered in a smartphone to plan a route and determine the ideal time to set off based on real time traffic data. The Send-to-Car function enables planned routes to be sent to the MINI navigation system, while Remote Services allow the driver not just to display vehicle location, fuel level and other vehicle status details on their digital end device, but also activate the headlight flasher, horn, ventilation and door lock/unlock function.
      Intelligent networking of the MINI is via a SIM card integrated in the vehicle: this now complies with the mobile communications standard 4G. It also enables the use of MINI Teleservices and the Intelligent Emergency Call with automatic detection of vehicle location and accident severity.
      Services now available in the new MINI Hardtop 2 Door, the new MINI Hardtop 4 Door and the new MINI Convertible for the first time also include MINI Find Mate. This consists of so-called tags with a wireless tracking function that can be attached to frequently used objects and travel items such as bags, cases, key rings and rucksacks. Their position can not only be displayed on the on-board computer but also in the MINI Connected App on a smartphone. In this way, MINI Find Mate helps prevent personal items getting lost or left behind.
    • By William Maley
      FCA US Reports 2017 December and Full-year Sales
      Chrysler Pacifica minivan posts best December sales ever Ram Truck brand records full-year sales increase in 2017 versus 2016 A 42 percent year-over-year decline in fleet sales for December is in line with the FCA US strategy to reduce sales to the daily rental segment January 3, 2018 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - FCA US LLC today reported sales of 171,946 units, an 11 percent decrease compared with sales in December 2016 (192,519 units).
       
      In December, retail sales of 150,772 units were down 3 percent compared with the same month in 2016 and represented 88 percent of total sales. In line with FCA’s strategy to reduce sales to the daily rental segment, fleet sales of 21,174 units were down, as expected, 42 percent year over year. The largest planned volume reduction in December fleet sales came from the Jeep® brand, which reduced its fleet sales number by 75 percent year over year. Fleet sales represented 12 percent of total FCA US December sales.
       
      The Chrysler Pacifica minivan posted an 8 percent year-over-year increase for its best December sales ever. The Fiat 124 Spider recorded its best December sales as well. Other FCA US vehicles posting year-over-year sales increases in the month of December were the Chrysler 300, Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Compass and Ram ProMaster City.
       
      Chrysler Brand
      Chrysler brand sales were up 3 percent in December, compared with the same month a year ago. Both the Chrysler Pacifica minivan and the Chrysler 300 full-size sedan posted sales increases in December. Sales of the 300 were up 60 percent for its best December sales since 2012. For the second-consecutive year, the Pacifica captured both the Minivan and Family Vehicle Best Buy awards from the automotive editors at Consumer Guide Automotive.
       
      Jeep Brand
      Jeep Compass, Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Grand Cherokee delivered year over year increases for December. Sales of the Cherokee were up 18 percent in December, compared with the same month a year ago. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler has earned a Residual Value Award from ALG, the industry benchmark for residual values and depreciation data, in the Off-road Utility segment. 
       
      For the full year, Jeep Grand Cherokee sales increased 13 percent, compared with sales in 2016.
       
      FIAT Brand
      Sales of the Fiat 124 Spider were up 15 percent year over year for its best December sales ever. For the second-consecutive year, the 124 Spider took home a Best Buy award in the Sporty Performance Car category from Consumer Guide Automotive.
       
      Dodge Brand
      The Dodge Durango full-size SUV posted its best full year of sales since 2006. The Durango – for the sixth-consecutive year – earned the Best Buy award in the Large SUV category from Consumer Guide Automotive. In addition, Strategic Vision named the Dodge Charger to its “Most Loved Vehicles in America” list for the fourth-consecutive year. 
        
      Ram Truck Brand
      Ram Truck brand sales were up year over year in 2017 versus 2016. In addition, sales of the Ram pickup truck edged up year over year in 2017 versus the previous year. For the 10th-consecutive year, the Ram pickup captured the Best Buy award for Large Pickup Truck from Consumer Guide Automotive.
       
      Alfa Romeo Brand
      Alfa Romeo brand sales of 2,034 units were up significantly compared with the same month a year ago and recorded its strongest monthly sales of 2017. Furthermore, Motor Trend named the Alfa Romeo Giulia as its 2018 Car of the Year, best representing exceptional value, superiority in its class and impact on the automotive scene.
      FCA US LLC Sales Summary December 2017
                          Month Sales
      Vol %
      CYTD Sales
      Vol %
        Model
      Curr Yr
      Pr Yr
      Change
      Curr Yr
      Pr Yr
      Change
        Compass
      8,743
      7,954
      10%
      83,253
      94,061
      -11%
        Patriot
      240
      7,809
      -97%
      40,735
      121,926
      -67%
        Wrangler
      13,700
      15,721
      -13%
      190,522
      191,774
      -1%
        Cherokee
      19,358
      16,380
      18%
      169,882
      199,736
      -15%
        Grand Cherokee
      23,622
      23,250
      2%
      240,696
      212,273
      13%
        Renegade
      7,542
      12,045
      -37%
      103,434
      106,606
      -3%
        JEEP BRAND
      73,205
      83,159
      -12%
      828,522
      926,376
      -11%
        200
      332
      2,643
      -87%
      18,457
      57,294
      -68%
        300
      5,726
      3,584
      60%
      51,237
      53,241
      -4%
        Town & Country
      6
      266
      -98%
      577
      59,071
      -99%
        Pacifica
      11,144
      10,283
      8%
      118,274
      62,366
      90%
        CHRYSLER BRAND
      17,208
      16,776
      3%
      188,545
      231,972
      -19%
        Dart
      139
      1,525
      -91%
      10,082
      43,402
      -77%
        Charger
      6,830
      7,237
      -6%
      88,351
      95,437
      -7%
        Challenger
      4,508
      5,257
      -14%
      64,537
      64,433
      0%
        Viper
      9
      59
      -85%
      585
      630
      -7%
        Journey
      4,227
      9,768
      -57%
      89,470
      106,759
      -16%
        Caravan
      6,623
      6,687
      -1%
      125,196
      127,678
      -2%
        Durango
      5,547
      5,796
      -4%
      68,761
      68,474
      0%
        DODGE  BRAND
      27,885
      36,329
      -23%
      446,996
      506,858
      -12%
        Ram P/U
      44,907
      47,556
      -6%
      500,723
      489,418
      2%
        ProMaster Van
      3,352
      4,694
      -29%
      40,483
      40,440
      0%
        ProMaster City
      1,617
      1,347
      20%
      15,584
      15,972
      -2%
        RAM BRAND
      49,876
      53,597
      -7%
      556,790
      545,851
      2%
        500
      667
      1,411
      -53%
      12,685
      15,437
      -18%
        500L
      111
      102
      9%
      1,664
      3,118
      -47%
        500X
      673
      843
      -20%
      7,665
      11,712
      -35%
        Spider
      287
      250
      15%
      4,478
      2,475
      81%
        FIAT BRAND
      1,738
      2,606
      -33%
      26,492
      32,742
      -19%
        Giulia
      1,011
      29
      3386%
      8,903
      36
      24631%
        Alfa 4C 
      26
      23
      13%
      407
      480
      -15%
        Stelvio
      997
      0
      New
      2,721
      0
      New
        ALFA ROMEO
      2,034
      52
      3812%
      12,031
      516
      2232%
        FCA US LLC
      171,946
      192,519
      -11%
      2,059,376
      2,244,315
      -8%
                   
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