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Roadshow Video Reviews
2012 Fiat 500 AbarthThe Fiat 500 with a whole new attitude: all'arrabiatta.
The Fiat 500. Cute, stylish, gutless. Just a little too much like the cars that clowns drive in the circus, until now. Let's drive the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth and Check the Tech. Abarth. It's not an acronym. It's a guy's name. Carlo Abarth, the famous Austrian masochist who devoted much of his life to making Fiats go fast. We've got 17s on here but 16s that look like that are stuck. I'd pass on the taped stripe and a much more ballsier kind of a rear-end with a splitter and a little wing above the glass. Now, let's go inside. Okay. From our previos Fiat 500 video, you recognize this cabin. Cutesy and retro in it's own way but not so over the top as a mini. The concentric gauges are here, speed on the outside, tank in the middle. A little info display in the center there. That's frustrating 'cause you never get it to the right brightness because it's so much brighter at night than the guages around it. This is new over here, the Turbo guage because the Abarth has a turbo. Yes, it actually does get that much boost apparently, up to 18 even 20 psi. This would be your only head unit. There's not a lot of tech here as ytou can see but the basic sources. Now, hooking up your iOS device here in the glove box will give you a nice, very simple connection to the dash. It doesn't give you a lot of interface to work with because we've got a real limited display. You may notice right above there, I've got what appears to be a clip-on TomTom unit. It's actually a factory TomTom unit the goes into this little port here on the dash. Now, after I figure out the world's most convoluted pairing where this has to pair to the head unit, my phone had to pair to the TomTom and there's probably one more loop here I missed. You get this, a car menu actually quite valuable alongside navigation. Under this, you'll find Eco Drive. This will show you live whether you're driving greenly or in this car's case, not so greenly. you've also got the ability to drop in to this area here where you've got your phone in a much more graphical interface than on that ribbon display and finally, if you head over here, you're going to find your media player. Again, that is the wired player that is in the glove box. Not Bluetooth streaming. Down here is your one-choice only gear box, 5-speed manual. No automatic yet. There's an expectation the Abarth will get an automatic for broader market appeal but so far, they're doing it right. It's a small thing but this whole array of buttons annoyed me. First of all, the Sport Mode button. Wouldn't you invest in an LED so it lights up when you press it? And when I press this thing, all the buttons move. That's not good quality. Locking the doors. There's something left on the top here. You just push the door lever in to lock, out to open. The last time we drove a 500, it was a C. That means it has that retractable pleated cloth top, very cool. This car doesn't come with that. Not possible on an Abarth but you do have an optional glass moon roof. This guy is 850 bucks additional. The frustration is, that's as close as it gets, with a mesh thing over it. There is no solid panel to draw it close. So when a hot day or during the summer, you cook all the time, at least a little bit but you can't tell the story of a Fiat 500 Abarth inside the cabin. You gotta do that under the hood. We're going there next. No, of course the huge part of the Abarth story is the Abarth motor. It's still a 1.4-liter in-line 4 sitting this way, driving the front wheels but once you're at Turbo, everything changes. This guy goes from about 100 horsepower in a standard 500 to a 160 horsepower, 170 foot-pounds of torque. It's like a different car. It give this 2,500-pound Diminutive Italian up to 6, about 6.8-6.9 seconds or delivering 28-34 MPG. Now, another key thing here which is much harder to understand is Fiat's Multi-Air technology. They throttle the engine by actuating the intake valve. The bottom line is, you can reduce what they call pumping losses and also gives very precise metering of the throttle function, 10% better power, 10% better fuel efficiency on top with the Turbo brain. Fun car is the first thing you get the impression of. It's light and tossible in a different way than a Mini. A Mini always feels kind of heavy and kind of like a sled to me. This car feels a little tippier, lighter, nimbler and when I hit the Sport Mode button right here, it's gonna be give me a sharper throttle response so a higher graduation of the throttle curve. I'm gonna also get apparently sharper stirring input on the electric power stirring rack as I understand it and that's about it. The next thing you notice after you get the sport dialed in and you get this guy pushed around a corner is it rides like a truck. Although I shouldn't say that because truck makers would sue me for liable. I don't know what it rides like but it's a junksy little rider. part of that is the fact that it's got the firm suspension. We've got the bigger wheels riding on 45s and we've got almost no over-hang front and rear on this car. Over-hang in front and behind the axle line really does a lot to modulate a car's ride. This car doesn't really have any to do that. So I'm sure on paper, this is not the best handling car. There's no limited slip differential. It's front-wheel drive. It's got a pretty simple suspension. The torsion bar with springs in the rear but it adds to more than the sum of it's parts. It's fun to drive and it's got credible power where the rear basic Mini does not. Okay, a 2012 500 Abarth is gonna run you a 22/7 delivery with some pretty cheap rates and comes in about a grand below a Base Mini Cooper S by the way. The options I;d go for, 850 for the glass roof even though you're gonna get head cancer but you have good time doing it. Thousand dollars will get you this 14. You gotta think about that. As we noticed, the ride is already brutal enough. I would probably drop down to the 16 perhaps and then you're gonna look at $400 for that TomTom unit that I'm gonna do anything else with except buy that.