2017 Fiat 500c Abarth new car reviews

The angry little Fiat is back. And this time it comes with a convertible top. The Abarth package takes the happy-go-lucky Fiat 500c, lowers it on a sporty suspension, adds a turbo and uncorks the exhaust. The result is a tiny ball of Italian fury.

Our car came with the 6-speed automatic transmission, a $995 option over the standard manual transmission. Would this ruin the car or improve it?

Other staff views

Ed Higginbotham
PunchyWrench - Ed Higginbotham

I won't try and hide it. I love these cars. I love them so much I didn't mind the bright baby blue paint one bit.

This one was different because it came with their 6-speed automatic transmission. And it was... Different. Keep it in D and everything seems to work fine. However, when you drop it down into the manual mode, shifts take forever. There's a very noticeable lag between asking for a gear and receiving it. If you put the car in sport mode, things are tightened up and the lag isn't as noticeable as before.

Still, I think there's a point to be made that this car deserves a manual. It's really loud, it's mean, and it seems confused with an automatic. When you're driving around in an automatic-equipped car the droning exhaust never stops. But when you're rowing through gears in a manual transmission car, you get the feeling that you are directing an orchestra of combustion and power. Somehow the extreme exhaust note becomes a bonus when you're directing it. Long story short: I think the automatic-equipped Abarth would benefit from a quieter exhaust.

Other than that, it's business as usual. The cabrio top offers open-top driving and the ride is as good as ever.

I'm still a fan, but I don't think I'd get one with an automatic transmission.

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Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
2/26/18 2:51 p.m.

I also love these little things. (with a manual)  They always remind me of the Chicken Hawk from the old Foghorn Leghorn cartoons.   "See that Corvette?  Let me at em!  I can take him!  See that Z28...he's all mine!"    


I just can't drive one of these without grinning like an idiot, and there aren't too many other cars I can say  that about.

Driven5 SuperDork
2/26/18 3:20 p.m.

Considering the fact that it still has a 'roofline' bar, b-pillar, c-pillar, and fixed rear quarter windows, how does the 'convertible experience' in this compare to a true/full convertible or targa?  It seems like it might basically split the difference.

mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/26/18 8:04 p.m.

it's more like a targa than a vert

Jerry UberDork
2/26/18 9:24 p.m.

Almost exactly 4 years into my 2013, around 55k miles.  I finally had to replace a passenger side axle last week (& an intermediate steering shaft).  With labor around $750 or so, done separately.  Not bad for Tony's work?  Did I mention I still look forward to driving it every day?

I went with a sunroof, I'm not a convertible fan (or I'd already have an Answer), and this isn't really a convertible.  It's more like a larger cloth sunroof.  (And they didn't offer auto's back then.  I'm all for offering them if it helps the car continue with higher sales, it's just not for me.)

thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/26/18 10:44 p.m.

My girlfriend has tired of me pointing out the exhaust note of each 500 Abarth I see. Joke's on her though, 'cause I'm not tired of hearing it! cheeky

mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/26/18 10:55 p.m.

I find them really tempting. My only complaint on the whole 500 line up. The 500L should have been the 600

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