Car Review: 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth

fiat_abarth_1

You know very quickly when you are driving something special, and the 500 Abarth is special. We drove the 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth for a week and had about as much fun as any car we tested in recent months. There is no doubt that the Fiat 500 Abarth brought world-class performance and precision, purposeful and aggressive styling, high power-to-weight ratio and limited-production volume to the small-car segment in North America.

EXTERIOR

The Abarth badging on the 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth has a tint of dare we say a Ferrari in just the slightest but most impressive way. The aggressive styling of the Fiat 500 Abarth embodies the Abarth brand tradition in full — purposeful and intentional details, all designed to improve the car’s performance, while enhancing the clean and simple design language of the Cinquecento. Our test model proudly boasted rosso (red) paint and sweet 17-inch x 7-inch forged aluminum hyper black wheels, which set the tone for this confident compact.

To improve aerodynamics and the necessary engine compartment space for the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine, the Fiat 500 Abarth and Abarth Cabrio feature a more pronounced front fascia. For additional air intake, the signature “Abarth” shield floats on a finned surface and a larger intake below consists of three inlets with broader openings than the standard Cinquecento models. For a more aggressive look, twin “nostrils” are precisely positioned on the front fascia to maximize airflow in and out of the two engine intercoolers (both intercoolers are visible through the “nostril” inlets).

Abarth-designed side skirts give an athletic profile, while 16-inch or optional 17-inch (as tested) lightweight forged-aluminum wheels fill the flared wheel arches and provide ventilation for the performance brake system. From the rear, an aggressively-styled, Abarth-specific, cloth top-mounted spoiler extends the roofline and improves the Abarth Cabrio’s aerodynamic behavior by creating additional downforce. Below, the two-piece Abarth-styled rear fascia accentuates the road-holding stance and optimizes airflow with its rear diffuser. Integrated behind the diffuser, the low-restriction Abarth-tuned exhaust system features concentric “double tips” and the signature Abarth-tuned sound.

INTERIOR

Quality, style and fun all come together to invigorate you in the cabin of the 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth. The interior design theme of the Fiat 500 Abarth and Abarth Cabrio is an artistic blend of clean lines and functional performance appointments. An Abarth-designed steering wheel features a thick rim, perforated leather and flat bottom to provide the look, feel and increased roominess desired during at-the-limit driving. A large concentric instrument cluster with 160-mph speedometer, tachometer and trip computer sits behind the steering wheel and features a leather-wrapped cluster brow wrapped in Nero leather with Rosso accent stitching. To the left, an analog turbo-boost gauge has an integrated LED shift light in the center that illuminates an instant before redline to optimize gear changes. Below the instrument panel, Abarth-designed aluminum pedal covers feature Nero rubber trim for a decidedly racing look, while the Nero leather shift knob with Rosso accent stitching provides a precise feel of the shifter.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

20 Cars to Look for in 2012

For the first time in a long while, driver involvement is making a comeback in 2012. Of course, the New Year is bringing its fair share of power hitters – what with a 650hp Mustang debuting and a bevy of 1,000hp cars – but if you look on the more affordable side of the spectrum, driving fun is back in a big way. Car companies are looking past adding “more” of everything into a car to make their offerings lust-worthy. Instead, they’re putting in features that can’t be summed up on a spec sheet, but do show up in the driving experience. Even Toyota is producing a sports car again. With cars like this on the horizon for 2012, it’s shaping up to be the Year of the Driver.

Ford Focus ST

The story of Ford’s small, performance-oriented cars in the United States has been one of a constant disappointment. As Capris, Sierras and Escorts chewed up European roads with turbocharged fury, us Americans only got the lumbering Mustang. This year, however, we get the truly good stuff with the Focus ST. The specs are promising: 250hp from a turbocharged 2.0L engine, independent rear suspension, and all the natural racy bits on the inside and out. Price has yet to be released, but don’t be too surprised to see this car around the 24k mark. Most importantly, for the first time in seven years, Ford has a proper competitor in the hot hatchback class.

Toyota FR-S/Subaru BR-Z

The FR-S/BR-Z was a joint project between Toyota and Subaru to deliver a car that puts driving enjoyment ahead of sheer numbers. This means low price, low weight and a truly amazing driving experience. The result of this Toyota and Subaru marriage is a low-slung coupe with a 200hp flat four. For those that think that is too little power, bear in mind the car weighs a featherweight 2600 pounds. Not to mention, the development team pegged the Porsche Cayman as a dynamic benchmark. The FR-S will be sold as a Scion here in the states, but the Subaru version will also be available as well.

Porsche 911

The world’s best sports car gets even better this year. Redesigned from the ground up, the 911 gets a new exterior, interior and more power. The boxer six engine has been given a few tweaks to now produce 400hp. The chassis has been lengthened and widened slightly to provide more stable handing as well. Even though the changes are incremental, the 911 goes to show that evolution, not revolution, is the way to continually improve the world’s best all around sports car.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Related Posts