Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Business

The Daily Drivers: 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth risque and rough

We've driven a few different models of the Fiat 500 since its U.S. debut in 2011 and enjoyed the little Italian icon for what it is: a fun city car. That whetted our appetite for the performance version of the car — the turbocharged Abarth. Would it live up to our expectations?

Exterior: The Abarth, a performance division of Fiat, has the familiar retro look, which harkens back to the original 500 but adds attitude through optional styling touches such as 17-inch painted aluminum wheels ($1,200), double-tip dual exhausts, side ground effects and a spoiler. Our tester was white (bianco) with red accents: side mirror caps and racing stripes ($350), and brake calipers. Forget you're not driving a normal 500? The car carries numerous Abarth badges with the distinctive scorpion logo.

Performance: Lyra calls it a "kitten with a tiger's growl," and that's a good way to describe the turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder and its loud exhaust note. Peter found that note irresistible and loved revving the engine to hear its gurgling sound. With 160 horsepower, we were pleasantly surprised that there was little torque steer in the front-wheel driver. The console-mounted 5-speed manual shifts smoothly, but we would have expected six gears. (Sorry, an automatic is not an option.) The Abarth's sportier suspension tuning can lead to a kidney-rattling ride. Peter hated it during his first drive — on a windy night over the Howard Frankland Bridge where he was jolted by every bump on the bridge. After lengthy drives, we both had sore backs. Other annoyances: The turbo-boost gauge has a shift indicator that flashes when you should up-shift, and can be distracting. (This car demands to be revved!) Thankfully, it shuts off in sports mode. Also, because of the little car's narrow track, you'll feel body lean on tight turns.

Interior: It's colorful and sylish, with red-leather seats and a modernist, body color-matching dashboard. Alas, we had several complaints. The dash-mounted TomTom GPS ($500) can block some of the driver's view. Thankfully, it's removable, but it's of little use on the seat or in the glove box. The orange-glowing speedometer seems too dim; we'd like a brighter display on what is a cluttered instrument cluster. The seats lack both lumbar support (those bumps!) and adjustable headrests. The angled headrests hit Peter in the middle of his head — taller drivers beware. Also annoying: We found ourselves fumbling to adjust the audio volume because the control isn't a dial. Not that we expect any, but there is little rear-seat room.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Wheels: Color-coordinated and forged-aluminum. Sharp.

Sound: The gurgle is irresistible.

Grip: One of us liked the thick, race-inspired steering wheel.

Lyra Solochek

Attitude: The Abarth has plenty, from the menacing growl to the bright-red seats.

Logo: The scorpion badge is sharp.

Beats Audio: Can't go wrong with Dr. Dre's 10 speakers in a small space.

The bottom line: The Abarth is a fun ride for zipping in and out of city traffic. But the price can quickly escalate with options, and that's not so fun. For those who favor comfort and back health, this isn't your daily driver.









     
         
Comments
Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, known as the place Elvis Presley ate following a 1956 concert and Tampa’s last classic prefabricated diner, has shut down after more than 60 years in business.Owners Karen and Nicholas Liakos could not be reached for comment, but ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Washington PostA former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his "tremendous guilt" over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded "the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other."Chamath Paliha...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

State investigators have discovered more than double the number of credit card skimmers in the Tampa Bay area in 2017 than in 2016 — with still a few weeks left in the year. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found 54 skimmer...
Updated: 4 hours ago
French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

Three Tampa Bay malls may soon be under new management. French real estate company Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy Australia-based shopping mall operator Westfield Corp. for $15.7 billion in cash and shares."Westfield would arguably be the best or ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Times Staff WriterThe percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners who are late on their mortgage payments rose slightly in September, probably due to Hurricane Irma. According to CoreLogic, 7 percent of bay area mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days c...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Unusual paddle design earns worldwide market

Unusual paddle design earns worldwide market

Paddling on the heels of the last supermoon of 2017, Phil Hughes navigated an uncommonly low tide off Dunedin through St. Joseph Sound on an effortless but lengthy glide.This is not easy water, nor an easy paddle, and could be especially daunting for...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Punit Shah’s Liberty Group building new Channel District hotel with Jameis Winston as limited investor

Punit Shah’s Liberty Group building new Channel District hotel with Jameis Winston as limited investor

TAMPA — Punit Shah’s Liberty Group announced plans Tuesday to start construction in January on a Channel District project that will include a Hampton Inn and Home2 Suites, both by Hilton, plus a Starbucks Coffee.Financing for the $40 million project ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Shortly after leaving his job as chief financial officer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to strike out on his own as an entrepreneur, Nick Reader wondered if he’d made the right move. "I probably had one of the coolest jobs in Tampa," said Reader, 42. Si...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

The floor-to-ceiling glass windows are heavily tinted and the inside is hidden behind rows of curtains. Security cameras monitor every corner, and only patients with an appointment and valid identification can pass through the intentionally cramped e...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Noel Cruz seemed remarkably chill. As did his partner Kerem Koca. All around them in the Station House building in St. Petersburg, workers pounded the last nails, bartenders unpacked boxes of glassware and jewel-toned bottles of Amari, and the kitche...
Published: 12/12/17