Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 1.4L I4
Power:
160 HP / 170 LB-FT
Transmission:
5-Speed Manual
0-60 Time:
7.3 Seconds (est.)
Top Speed:
130 MPH
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2,545 LBS
Seating:
2+2
MPG:
28 City / 34 HWY
Base Price:
$26,000
As Tested Price:
$31,100
To no one's surprise, I was stoked about the Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio. I've always enjoyed the exquisitely flawed driving dynamics of the 500 Abarth hardtop, and the idea of being able to fold the top back and take it all in with some fresh air blowing around was really appealing. That super awesome exhaust note would no doubt be even more audible without a huge chunk of sheetmetal and glass in the way, and even with the slight weight penalty (33 pounds versus the hardtop), the Cabrio should still be just as tossable as ever.

So when the Fiat arrived at my door, I slid the roof back and stowed the normal press car paperwork in the glove box so it wouldn't fly about during what ended up being a genuinely spirited drive. I had a great time, and my subsequent days with the 500 Abarth Cabrio were just as enjoyable. Sunshine, Italian supercar-like rumble, and hilariously fun dynamics. Awesome.

But then I remembered my paperwork in the glovebox. And when I examined the fine print, my jaw dropped. The bottom line: $31,100, including $700 for destination. For a Fiat 500. Ouch.

Ignorance really is bliss.

Driving Notes
  • Everything I love about the Fiat 500 Abarth is just ever so slightly better with the Cabrio, even the appearance. I'm generally not a convertible guy, but it works here, and I'm super hot on the contrasting white and gray color combination mixed with the hotter Abarth styling bits.
  • As you'd expect, this is pretty much a plug-and-play version of the 500 Abarth and the 500C. The already beefier suspension geometry of the Abarth, as well as its lowered ride height, improved brakes, different steering ratio and, of course, its turbocharged engine all remain intact, but with the folding soft top that slides all the way back and bunches up just above the trunk lid (or right in the driver's rear-view sight line, however you want to look at it).
  • The 1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged inline-four is great as ever here, still tuned to 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque (if you're in sport mode, otherwise only 150 lb-ft is on offer) and mated exclusively to a five-speed manual transmission (for now).
  • Really, in terms of what you feel behind the wheel, the experience here in the Cabrio is exactly the same as the standard 500 Abarth, even with those pesky 33 extra pounds in tow. What you get, however, is added aural delight from the awesome exhaust note, and you can better hear little things like the turbo whine of the MultiAir engine.
  • The steering, suspension, brakes – the whole lot – all work the same as the Abarth hardtop. However, I did notice that when the top is folded back, it doesn't feel quite as stable and secure when driving spiritedly (worse aero, etc.). The car rolls slightly in corners, it'll understeer when pushed, and the back end has no problem getting loose around a corner if you're really pushing. But because it's all in a small, lightweight package, every single flaw is easily correctable. And honestly, it's a hilarious experience.
  • Inside, it's all the same, too. The interior is still sort of bad in terms of refinement, and that seating position still sucks for most drivers, but hey, there's unlimited headroom with that top folded back.
  • New for 2013, Abarth Cabrio buyers can opt for the excellent Beats Audio sound system, which can easily kick out the high-volume jams with the added noise of driving without a roof. And for times when the roof is shut, it's great for drowning out what's already a decidedly noisy cabin.
  • It's all perfectly good, this 500 Abarth Cabrio, and tons of fun to drive. But choosing the droptop model costs an additional $4,000 over the standard, $22,000 Abarth. And adding features like larger 17-inch wheels and the sport seats (stuff you want, for sure) puts you at $29,100. With the coupe, I can see spending $25,000, since that's still thousands less than a comparable Mini Cooper S Hardtop. But I just can't fathom dropping $4,000 for the added fun of a folding roof (that ruins visibility), where that money buys you Mini's true convertible. The fun versus flawed equation balances itself out with the 500 Abarth hardtop, but I just can't excuse it here.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 76 Comments
      JonZeke
      • 1 Year Ago
      I didn't feel the love for the Abarth when I last took one out; it felt like I was driving a Miata that had wool in the clutch pedal from a barstool. It seemed rorty and fun in some ways, but also an insincere driving experience in others. Where a Mini feels like the engineers tried to hard to take a really good car and add some "character" over the driving experience, the Fiat felt like a car stylists created that engineers dialed in an attempt to make it a bit more serious. I get why people love it, but for me it fell flat. The engine note IS awesome though, I can't think of a better sounding factory 4 cylinder engine on sale anywhere.
        Street King
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JonZeke
        You're right about the barstool type seating position, but I know I'd be (personally) used to that by the 3rd time I drove the car. Then every other car would feel weird when I sat in them....lol. Just one of those things I guess, not a big deal either way. Best things about the Abarth IMO are its light weight, good looks, engines ability to easily be modded and its great fuel economy. Leaned out a bit with a tune I bet it could nail close to 50 MPG highway..
      wrxfrk16
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ouch, that smarts a little bit. I guess, really in that niche market it isn't that terrible, I remember seeing a write-up in C&D I believe it was a couple years ago where they had a Mini Convertible, non-S automatic that was thirty-two. Still, thirty-one grand is a nice chunk of change for a little baby hatch. Now, if they brought the Fiat Punto Abarth across the pond, I think I could see that price tag. But really, even as much as I like the 500 Abarth I'm not sure I could really pay that money without taking a long, hard look at the competition that price tag opens up. There's a lot of big names new and used that can be had for that money...
        lasertekk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @wrxfrk16
        The Punto is a much bigger car, similar in size to many other offerings. It's the next logical step in model expansion. Followed by an Abarth version.
      twentyoneautospies
      • 1 Year Ago
      5-speed?
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        Farmboy
        • 1 Year Ago
        Yes, girls will drive it, but the Abarth is being marketed towards men. The kind of men who are also looking at a Cooper S, and even try to win over a couple people looking at a JCW. It's a nice car. Sorry, you're too manly to own a gender neutral car.
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        What demographic segment of US females shops manual-only cars?
      Street King
      • 1 Year Ago
      I tested an Abarth a few weeks ago, the car was an absolute BLAST. For the money they can't be beat in the fun per dollar scenario. I can only imagine how much MORE fun it would be with a tune and 220 WHP (which they can make with a few simple mods)
        graphikzking
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        The problem is it's such a niche segment. Most people with ANY kids aren't buying a Fiat 500 to tote them around. If you are single and want something fun, I really don't see the advantage of buying a Fiat for $26,000 over a Focus ST, Mazdaspeed3, Fiesta ST, Subaru WRX, Miata, Me personally I bought a used MR2 Spyder with 33,000 miles for $10k. Engine is basically brand new and it's sportier, lighter, faster around a track than this Abarth and MUCH cheaper. I really want to like smaller cars (I have one of the smallest) but the value just isn't there when you could buy a V6 Camry for the same price as the Abarth. Hell buy a certified pre-owned Camry AND a Spyder or Miata and be the same price as the Abarth. I know it's endless options when buying New VS Used, but $30k for a convertible Abarth is just nuts!
          aatbloke1967
          • 1 Year Ago
          @graphikzking
          If you think $30K for an Abarth cabrio is "nuts", then you'd likely scoff at the limited run 695 Tributo Ferrari editions which were selling for the equivalent of over $40K in the UK when new, and those which trickled onto the used market were being snapped up for well in excess of $50K. Highly, highly sought after.
          Street King
          • 1 Year Ago
          @graphikzking
          You lost me at Camry and used junk...WGAF.
          superchan7
          • 1 Year Ago
          @graphikzking
          For $21-22k, the hardtop Abarth is one of the most affordable ways to shout, "I don't care what you think," sit inside a stylish Italian-styled machine and blast away with a barely silenced exhaust. You can get more fun automotive statements, but those tend to be appropriately expensive.
        Dean Hammond
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        watchout for the Fiesta ST........no convertible, but cheaper with 197hp.....I smell a cool test upcoming, Cooper S, Fiesta ST and Abarth....have I missed any?...oh, the Veloster turbo....well..that may be a stretch..
          Dean Hammond
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          teust me, they WILL be cross-shopped....
          Dean Hammond
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          reason for the cross-shopping....more so than anything else...pricing....
          Dean Hammond
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          arg, sorry, EDIT BUTTON PLEASE...
          aatbloke1967
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          The Abarth Punto is the rival to the Mini and Fiesta. The 500 is a different segment and a good deal smaller.
          aatbloke1967
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          Price doesn't matter. An Abarth enthusiast will buy one regardless. Many of these are already in private collections.
          aatbloke1967
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          In America they will be I'm sure, because availability in these segments isn't as comprehensive. But comparing an A-segment hatch to a B-segment one remains wrong-headed because the A-segment will invariably lose out on interior space by its very nature. If you were stranded on a desert island with only a Mercedes S-Class and a Trabant for comparison, would you necessarily compare them because that's all that was available to you? It's the same conundrum.
          aatbloke1967
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          And then you have to take into account that one of the cars you're cross-shopping is an Abarth. An immediate collectable to any discerning automobile enthusiast.
      zoom_zoom_zoom
      • 1 Year Ago
      $31000 LOL
      JCM
      • 1 Year Ago
      I purchased an Abarth Cabrio about a month ago, and I haven't had one second of regret (even though it cost $33K in Canada). This car never hesitates to put a smile on my face, and it sure gets its fair share of compliments and head turners. I originally just planned on using it in the city, and using my Tacoma on road trips, but the Abarth is actually not that bad on the highway either. Hands down the most fun car I have ever owned, including several VW GTI's.
        Ducman69
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JCM
        Good for you. Far too many people are shallow and care way too much about a car having an image as being for "bottom boys" or "hair salon girls" and the like. Screw the haters, drive it with PRIDE.
          JayhawkOne
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ducman69
          20 bucks says Ducman69 drives a lifted mall-crawler. Any takers?
      Ducman69
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is a beautiful car for hair dressers, and ... well I can't think of anything else, but its very nice for its niche market.
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      While the Fiat 500 Abarth can be "nifty". I'm not sold on its the performance it lays down. When your talking about a $30,000 price tag or more for models (after financing), I'm not really sold on the Fiat 500, nor have I ever been. There are some real players in the 200 hp, 26 grand segment that pretty much blow the Fiat away. I guess the pricing in my mind just doesn't justify the offerings.
        aatbloke1967
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        But an Abarth enthusiast doesn't care two hoots what else is in the 26 grand range. All they care about is the Abarth heritage.
      Cain Gray
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow. This thing is the cost of a brand new Honda S2000 when they were sold...
      Teleny411
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is way to expensive brand new, but after about two years depreciation, it will be a good value.
        aatbloke1967
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Teleny411
        Rubbish. It's an excellent deal for an Abarth.
          aatbloke1967
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          You sound like a typical Autoblog drone. In the real world, many Abarth 500 and Puntos have made their say into private collections. Abarth engineered these cars just as they have select other Fiats over the years.
          CarNutMike
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          I have a hard time calling it "an Abarth". My wallet sees an expensive Fiat with a sticker and different springs/shocks.
          Ducman69
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          @ aatbloke1967; LOL!!!!!
          aatbloke1967
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          Ducman69 - what's on for today then? Swimming pool? Colouring book? Super Mario Kart?
          aatbloke1967
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          Carnutmike - you're nothing but one of the aliases used by yonomo, AP, carguy, aaronm and the various miscreants. And to that end, you live in your little American trailer dreamworld, and I'll remain in reality. Thank you.
          CarNutMike
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          You (aatbloke1967), in turn, sound like a Fiat fanboy. I see you have friends. Who knew such people existed? *shrug* I guess a spring/shock/sticker package is still "engineering". Does it have any bespoke suspension components?
          CarNutMike
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          You are truly a case study. Two opportunities to defend your position are met with shrill insults rather than information. Nice. I'm forced to conclude that I'm right that regardless of its storied past, Abarth is now the slammed-and-stickered arm of Fiat much like AMG has become for Mercedes. I'm well aware of Fiat's past. I own a car built by a subsidiary. It says 'F.e.r.r.a.r.i" on the decklid.
          CarNutMike
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          LOL. I'm an alias now? Because I don't genuflect to your precious Abarth? I guess life in the backwaters of Ohio really gets to you after a while. Here's my reality (I'm the one in black): https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/970360_10151685656614994_741509666_n.jpg 2001 360. Ti/blk. Gated 6 speed. Tubi headers/kinetix cats/tubi muffler/factory valved exhaust tips (so it only wakes my neighbors, not the dead). I might bring my Factory Five Cobra to Cars&Coffee tomorrow instead. Depends on the weather.
          aatbloke1967
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          And there are a handful of youngsters on here who, by my reckoning, are privy to at least ten aliases. That's Autoblog's problem, not mine, though spotting the teenage rhetoric really is - if the pun may be duly pardoned - child's play.
          JayhawkOne
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          @CarNutMike Just put the keyboard down, and walk away
          aatbloke1967
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          43? From your prose and sentence structures, I seriously would never have guessed. But I mustn't allow myself to get too engrossed in all of this. This is Autoblog, after all, and I'm dealing with Americans who, by the very fabric of their culture, do have a natural propensity to be consistently on the attack. I have no particular interest in what you claim to drive, or claim to understand. And feel free to rubbish the Abarth and AMG icons to your heart's content - it's your opinion. In the real world, there are plenty of real enthusiasts and collectors who harbour great interest in Abarth and its checkered history and admire the fact that this tuning house has been rejuvenated in recent years to produce what is hoped to be a series of production cars which transpire to be more than madcap projects or limited-series runs. I've met a number of collectors on both sides of the Atlantic who were writing cheques to dealers in advance of model introductions to add examples into their particular folds. The fact that the 500 was one of the models chosen by Abarth to modify is typical of the Abarth eccentricity, despite the fact that the Fiat/Ford platform on which it sits doesn't offer the same dynamics as segment rivals, most notably Renault. It's the entire ethos of Abarth which makes it such a sentimental tuning house for enthusiasts to enamour themselves with. You might take the heathenistic view that it's an "expensive Fiat" but you'd be as far off the mark in the same manner as someone describing a Shelby Mustang 500 as a glorified Ford. Name dropping a verite of prestige marques means comparatively little, either. What would impress me is to see the likes of a Ferrari 250GT/L, an Avon Jaguar XJ series III or series II coupe, a Merc R107 560 and an Audi RS2 in a collection. It would impress me even more if they also had the likes of s '57 Corvette, a Monteverdi Hai, an Audi 50, an Opel GT, a Bitter CD, an original Mini Clubman saloon, a Fiat Dino, and a Saab 600, or a Sonnet for that matter, in that collection as well. There are interesting anecdotes for each.
          CarNutMike
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          Yes, I actually searched the web far and wide for a 12 year old Ferrari so I could pretend to own it. For the record, I'm 43. I actually LIKE the 500 and was pitching the Cabrio to my wife a couple weeks ago so I don't get burdened with the W107 Merc she actually wants. I just don't see any value add on this Abarth package. But feel free to keep piling on hysterically. As it happens, I've owned American, German, Italian, Japanese AND English cars and have wrenched on every one. I have a 2000 Jag XJR right now and previously owned 2 Esprits. At once. An S4s and a Giugiaro body Turbo. I commute in a Volt. I bum rides in my buddy's Z06 and CTS-V at every opportunity. I'm sure you read quite a few more magazines than I do though so please continue to lecture me on my lack of automotive world view. @jayhawkone: No way. I'm winning the Internet today. I can feel it. Woohooo!
          CarNutMike
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          @Jayhawkone: Ah, so there ARE unique improvements to the Abarth cars then? I guess relaying that information would be far less satisfying than slagging off on Americans, right aatbloke1967? It appears the Abarth's actually enjoy bespoke lower control arms, for example. Again, pointing out that fact in response TO MY DIRECT QUESTION is less fun than flaming away, I guess. I can't imagine aatbloke1967, student of the society of Abarth, was not aware of it. Surely it was mentioned in Evo magazine? @aatbloke1967, forgive me if my prose does not reach the rarefied copy-ready air of yours. I am but a poor dumb American. An engineer at that. Posting on a blog. Indeed, my meager collection of cars past and present is best described as abysmal. I hesitated even bringing it up, as it certainly highlights my life's failings even more that my on going participation in this little distraction but it was surely relevant in response to the accusation that my disinterest in a particular expensive Fiat (indeed, I'm partial to a number of expensive Fiats) is somehow indicative of a narrow view of automotivedom. Feel free to fit me to continue to fit me to your pre-defined narrative though. Ultimately the REAL question is: are you gonna trade the iQ on an Abarth 500? Coupe or Cab?
          aatbloke1967
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          I see now, you're one of those insufferably dull chinless wonders from Jessie Louthan's blog. I'm quite sure you'd be just as disinterested in my motley collection of cars as I am yours, but since it intrigues you the iQ has been put out to pasture with my other cars in what can be best decribed as a considerable lean-to in the English Midlands. Research the location on Google Earth if you're unsure. The Abarth 500 hatchback - it isn't a coupe - will I'm sure one day join the collection, but it'll be either an Esse Esse or, if finances allow, a Tributo or an Assetto. When it comes to your views of the world of automobiles, I expect nothing less. Some Americans are true connoisseurs with ardent knowledge and diverse collections, but they're few and far between. The majority fall categorically into your camp.
          JayhawkOne
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          @CarNutMike I mean, if you don't want the turbo engine for your wife, that's understandable but in your comments on this car you conveniently leave out the entire powertrain change when you claim people are just paying for stickers and tweaked suspension.
          CarNutMike
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          Argh. Stupid cookies. :)
      GasMan
      • 1 Year Ago
      But you will look mah-valous!
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