"I would not, could not in a tree. Not in a car, you let me be. I do not like them in a box. I do not like them with a fox. I do not like them in a house. I do not like them with a mouse. I do not like them here or there. I do not like them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-Am." Why am I quoting Dr. Seuss' classic children's tale in the review of a small Fiat? Well, much like oddly colored eggs and ham, for the 500C Abarth, Fiat has taken something formerly palatable and added a rather bizarre quality – a six-speed automatic transmission. "I do not like an auto trans," I said. "I'd only drive it in a van." What would happen to the 500 Abarth's hilariously charming and flawed character? Isn't an automatic gearbox diametrically opposed to the cheap and cheerful driving pleasure inherent in the scorpion-badged Cinquecento? After a week behind the wheel, I was shocked to find that the auto Abarth is nearly as entertaining as its clutch-equipped counterpart. Driving Notes The Aisin six-speed automatic is beefed up for the higher torque of the hot 500 Abarth, and the final drive ratio is shorter. Despite the Abarth's spicier character, the shifter retains the same PRNDL pattern and piano-black surround as the standard 500. While I laud Fiat for offering a correct shifter layout to the manual-shifting scheme – pull to upshift and push to downshift – that smart move is overshadowed by the lack of wheel-mounted paddle shifters. There's not much else to complain about with the new automatic, because on the road it delivers similar performance to the five-speed manual. Upshifts are smooth and quick in the standard setting, and only get sharper if you push the Sport button on the dash. On top of that, wide-open-throttle upshifts show off the sonorous voice of the Abarth-tuned exhaust. It pops and cracks and belches in a horribly, hilariously anti-social way. I love it. The twin pipes are just as vocal on the rev-matched downshifts. The gearbox isn't as quick to drop ratios as some of its two-pedal competitors, like the dual-clutch-equipped Volkswagen GTI or even the traditional automatic offered in the Mini Cooper S (coincidentally also an Aisin unit). That said, the difference isn't significant enough to count as a major demerit. One minor change with the transmission is the power output. While the manual model has 160 horsepower, the auto drops to 157. Torque, though, is up from 170 pound-feet to 183 lb-ft. The added twist might make something of a difference on a stopwatch, but I didn't notice much via the seat of my pants. In terms of refinement, the automatic Abarth still doesn't hold a candle to the hot hatches mentioned previously, but it's much more civilized than the stick-shift car. With the prominent exhaust note and one less ratio the manual is, to be polite, …
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|MPG||31 City / 40 Hwy|
|Transmission||5-spd man w/OD|
|Power||101 @ 6500 rpm|
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