The Good The 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth combines very stylish looks with exciting performance from its turbocharged engine. The optional TomTom navigation unit is integrated well with the car's cabin electronics.
The Bad Without the navigation option, the car's MP3 device interface is barely usable. A short-throw shifter would make the car even more fun to drive.
The Bottom Line A turbocharger, closer gear ratios, and suspension tuning make the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth ridiculously fun to drive, but it takes the TomTom navigation option to overcome problems with the cabin tech interface.
2012 Fiat 500 Abarth
The 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth performs two particular feats that can best be appreciated by those with a juvenile streak in their characters. I am, apparently, just that juvenile.
The first requires a start from a traffic light or stop sign, at pole position, and is enhanced by plenty of pedestrians on the sidewalks and maybe a BMW or Porsche at the same stop. Giving it some gas, I dropped the clutch in your basic jackrabbit start, let the tachometer push towards redline, and shifted up, the traction control lights flashing madly. Dropping the revs between shifts, the Abarth backfired, forcing little shotgun blasts of exhaust over the loud growl of the engine.
Meanwhile I'm grinning like a teenager as bystanders crank their heads around, not expecting this sort of noise from the more mild-mannered versions of thethat have previously whispered by.
Toyota will finally turn the Yaris into a hot hatch in Geneva
Sadly, it doesn't appear it's slated to arrive in the US. Not yet, at least.