Loud, in-your-face motoring is what this hot little cabrio hatch is all about, and it makes no apologies for its brash attitude on the road.
What is a FIAT 500 Abarth Cabrio?
The Fiat has existed in Europe since the mid-‘50s, only a handful made their way to our shores. FIAT revived the car in 2007 but it wasn’t until 2011 that the little Italian made debutin North American showroom. Based on the original compact car, the new FIAT 500 features a front-mounted engine (as opposed to the original rear-mounted one) as well as a much larger, heavier body.
The cabriolet version of the hot hatch offers a rag-top roof that retracts at the touch of a button.
What about that Abarth bit? Well, that’s the fun part. FIAT and Abarth have been partners in crime since 1952, and they’ve been making fast, performance-enhanced Fiats since then. All FIAT Abarth models are built in Turin, Italy and undergo rigorous quality checks and testing there.
2013 FIAT 500 Abarth Cabrio Price and Specs
Keeping in mind that the FIAT 500 Abarth Cabrio is a “special edition” of the little corner-hugger, the starting price shouldn’t be too shocking: $27,995. With just a few options (including a few cosmetic bits including 17”rims) the price jumps above the $30k mark. At that price the competition becomes a bit more enticing.
For all that coin, you get a 2+2 seating arrangement, a 1.4L 16V MultiAir turbocharged engine good for 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque as well as an Abarth-tuned powertrain control module. The only transmission available is a 5-speed manual (bless you, FIAT).
Driving the 2013 FIAT 500 Abarth Cabrio
I’ve never hid the fact that I’m an avid MINI fan. The moment I got behind the wheel of the 2013 FIAT 500 Abarth Cabrio the comparisons began.
First off, make no mistake this hot hatch is loaded to the top of its cabrio roofline with fun. You will most definitely enjoy your time behind the wheel. That being said, I wasn’t completely impressed with the ride.
With a ridiculously long clutch and equally long throws behind gears, it was hard to feel like sporty driving was possible. The large, cumbersome shift knob also plays into that “lazy” feel. I wished for more torque off the line as the 2013 FIAT 500 Abarth Cabrio did not feel as fast as it should have.
Of course, with a car designed like the FIAT 500 Abarth, with the wheels pushed to the four corners, cornering should be the most fun. Truthfully, it was quite impressive, but not as tight and controlled as I’ve known behind the wheel of a MINI. There was something sloppy about its technique, steering felt disconnected sometimes and it almost felt a bit top-heavy.
And that exhaust… Even at idle, it’s as if they did it on purpose to make up for the FIAT’s diminutive stature. Even if you try and shift at lower rpms, heads will still turn. Push the hot hatch a bit and get those revs up and you’ll have a popping, back-firing good time that’ll have the neighbours giving you dirty looks.
Inside and Out of the 2013 FIAT 500 Abarth Cabrio
There’s not a whole lot to say about the interior of the 2013 FIAT 500 Abarth Cabrio other than: Dear God, add some knobs! Everything is button that requires clicking. Horribly irritating. Otherwise it’s business as usual in a diminutive space.
From the exterior, I’d hoped the Abarth version of the FIAT 500 would be a bit more aggressive. It’s still very cutesy, but then again I suppose the MINI Cooper S is as well. More aggressive bumpers and side skirts ensure the Abarth version is distinguishable from the base 500 -- as do the scorpion Abarth logos.
While my son’s baby seat fit in the back seat without too much trouble, I was not able to put anything larger than an umbrella stroller in the rear thanks to the cabriolet rooftop and the Beats Audio sub.
Of note: Once the electronically retractable roof is completely down, your rearview mirror is moot. It is rendered useless by the folded roof that sits squarely in the way of your rearward vision.
Comparing the 2013 FIAT 500 Abarth Cabrio
The obvious immediate competitor for this hot drop-top hatch is the MINI Cooper S Convertible. While the Cooper’s starting price is much higher than that of the FIAT, I’d be inclined to choose the MINI in terms of 20-more horsepower and a few more torques, build quality, and handling prowess.