Make us your home page
Instagram
The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

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.









2013 Fiat 500 Abarth

Price: $22,000 start, $27,100 as tested

Powertrain: 1.4-liter turbocharged 16-valve multi-air inline 4-cylinder,

5-speed heavy-duty manual transmission, FWD

Horsepower: 160

Torque: 170 pound-feet

Curb weight: 2,512 pounds

Dimensions

in inches:

Wheelbase, 90.6

Length, 144.4

Width, 64.1

Height, 58.7

Cargo: 9.5 cubic feet

Seats: 4

Fuel economy:

28 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway

Safety features: 7 airbags, electronic stability control, torque transfer control, 4-wheel disc ABS, hill start assist

Website: fiatusa.com/en/2013/abarth/

The Daily Drivers: 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth risque and rough 01/25/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 2:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst

    Business

    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette

    News

    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  3. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]
  4. Despite Hurricane Irma, Hillsborough remains on pace to unlock hotel tax that could pay for Rays ballpark

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Despite the threat of a catastrophic storm, it was business as usual at many Hillsborough County hotels in the days before Hurricane Irma bore down on the Tampa Bay region.

    The Grand Hyatt near TIA closed during Hurricane Irma, but many other Hillsborough hotels were open and saw an influx.
  5. New Graham-Cassidy health care plan stumbles under opposition from governors

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The suddenly resurgent Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act was dealt a blow on Tuesday when a bipartisan group of governors came out against a proposal gaining steam in the Senate.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. To win, 50 of the 52 GOP senators must back it -- a margin they failed to reach when the chamber rejected the effort in July. [/J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press]