2013 Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio: A breath of fresh air
Fiat has added another model to their 500 Abarth collection – the 2013 Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio for open air, performance oriented fun. The Abarth moniker, with its iconic scorpion logo, is a highly recognizable symbol not only in Italian performance circles, but worldwide. The name comes from Karl Abarth – a man, a brand, and a name that is synonymous with a host of racing victories, world records and international titles – all a part of the rich Abarth racing heritage.
Normally, Abarth is mispronounced…, it’s not AAhhbarTH or AABarTH, In Italian, it’s AHHbarT. Hagerty, a collectible vehicle insurance company has indicated that the Abarth edition of the Fiat 500 is surely destined to become one of the 10 most collectible small performance rides of the future. Competition success has always been a significant part of the Abarth story since Karl Abarth founded “Abarth & C” more than 60 years ago. Abarth’s collaboration with the Fiat brand represents a 45 year history, resulting in six international records and nearly 900 individual race victories.
The original rear-engined Fiat 500 (Cinquecento) made its first appearance more than 50 years ago on July 4th, 1957 in Turin, Italy. Nearly four million were produced between 1957 and 1975. Now, more than a half-century since its debut, the Fiat 500 has returned with the same desirable qualities and appeal for a new generation of drivers, delivering Italian-by-design functionality and value, with intelligently tailored efficiency for our market. The latest entry into the Fiat 500 Abarth model lineup is the 2013 Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio, an open-air version of the 500 Coupe. Abarth models come with a full day’s track experience and instruction for each buyer.
The Fiat Abarth is essentially an everyday performance car with track-ready capability, high horsepower (117 hp per liter) blended with efficiency, quality and sophistication. It is a “small, but wicked” global class small car. The 500C Cabrio adds a healthy dose of fresh air to the equation.
In terms of the Abarth model’s differentiation from other available 2013 Fiat 500 models, the front facia is noticeably more pronounced, extending 2.7-inches ahead of its signature “whiskers and logo” face. The aerodynamics are better, at 0.367 and the engine bay features modifications that allow space for the all-new 1.4-liter MultiAir® Turbo four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower along with 170 pound feet of torque delivered to the front wheels via a five-speed, short throw, manual gearbox. Fiat’s MultiAir® technology allows the potent little four-banger to control air intake cylinder by cylinder and stroke by stroke with its electro-hydraulic system that comes without a fixed intake camshaft. Three wider air intakes and functional “Abarth” shield allow for additional air into the engine compartment. Also up front, a blacked-out fascia accents integrated projector-beam fog lamps for a more aggressive persona. Twin “nostril-like” openings are precisely placed on the front fascia maximizing airflow in and out of the engine’s two turbo intercoolers.
Other Abarth-specific functional and visual cues include: extended side skirts; optional 17-inch lightweight, forged, multi-spoke aluminum wheels shod with Pirelli P-Zero Nero all-season rubber (16-inch rolling stock is standard); a large liftgate-mounted spoiler; a two-piece Abarth-styled rear fascia with a black-accented rear diffuser and symmetric twin exhaust cutouts optimizes rear outlet airflow; large concentric “double-tip” Abarth exhausts that provide an incredible sound along with a performance look.
The Abarth 500C Cabrio’s interior styling and design cues remain as simple and appealing as those of the exterior, with controls logically positioned for easy and intuitive use. The gearshift is placed conveniently in the center stack. Features such as the concentric binnacle instrument cluster containing a 160-mph speedometer, tachometer and trip computer were inspired by the original 500. Portable Tom-Tom navigation is available that is removable, and plugs into the top of the dash, along with BLUE&ME Handsfree Communication. A flat-bottom sport steering wheel and sport front bucket seats along with an Abarth-designed leather shift knob and aluminum, rubber studded pedal covers highlight the car’s competitive aura. Seating options provided, include: Nero (Black) in cloth or leather; or Rosso (Red) Nero in leather with contrast stitching. The two-position cloth top is available in different colors and operates via header-mounted switches – one for open, one for closed. Direct rearward vision is somewhat limited with the top fully opened.
The chassis is precision tuned, featuring a unique MacPherson front suspension design with a 40 percent stiffer spring rate (the rear springs are 20 percent stiffer with strengthened supports and a 22 mm stabilizer bar), and a ride height that is 0.6 inches lower than other Fiat 500s. There are also Abarth-designed front lower control arms and an increase in negative camber to 1.5 degrees. Steering is quicker at 15.1:1 with Abarth-tuned electronic power steering calibration. Brembo brakes are larger with vented fronts and Abarth-specific semi-metallic brake linings and Rosso (Red) lacquered calipers fore and aft. A new dual-valve Frequency Selective Damping KONI® front shocks improve road-holding prowess. An Abarth-tuned electric stability control system provides a three-mode calibration to maximize on and off track handling characteristics with “On”, “Partial Off” or “Full Off”. The “Full Off” setting features Abarth’s innovative Torque Transfer Control system that maximizes throttle performance during on-throttle cornering (or throttle steering).
My test 2013 Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio came with a Blanco (white) exterior accented by Rosso (Red) graphics and Nero (black) upholstery with Rosso (red) accents. The dash was done in the exterior body color. The base sticker read $26,000 while the extras such as: the Performance leather-trimmed high-back front bucket seats, Beats Audio Group, Comfort and Convenience Group, Red mirror caps and graphics, TomTom navigation, 17-inch forged aluminum Gloss White muti-spoke wheel shod with All-Season performance tires and Destination charge bumped the grand total to $31,100.
SUMMARY: Driving the 2013 Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio is without a doubt a rewarding experience – much like the raucous and pleasing exhaust note. The models tested were all pre-volume production units, but everything worked well and as they should. The dash-mounted sport button improves throttle mapping and engine response, while normal operation is sort of an ‘Eco-mode’, which is not as responsive, nor is it nearly as much fun. I tended to punch the Sport mode button each time I entered the vehicle, thoroughly enjoying the enhanced performance characteristics.
Acceleration of the Abarth model is noticeably quicker and more responsive, but there is a decidedly noticeable torque-steer, and the ride quality is obviously firmer than non-Abarth models, but is not unpleasant.
Rear seat room is still best left to small adults or children, particularly with larger front seat occupants. The rear seat backs fold down for added functionality and versatility, with a reasonable amount of room for personal gear with them up. I really only had one nit to pick – the glove box door does not lock to safely secure the TomTom Nav systems or other important items for that matter.
In the final analysis, the 2013 Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio delivers an impressive amount of “Bang for the Buck”. I predict that it may well give the MINI Cooper S a run for its money. The 500C Abarth Cabrio, engine and transmission are built in Italy, with the car’s final assembly is done in Toluca, Mexico.
SPECIFICATIONS: 0213 Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio
|Price as Tested:||$31,100.|
|Engine Type and Size:||1.4-liter, 16-valve MultiAir turbocharged inline four-cylinder with sequential multi-port, electronic, returnless fuel injection.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||160 @ 5,500 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||170 @ 2,500-4,000 rpm|
|Transmission:||Five-speed heavy-duty manual.|
|Drive Train:||Transversely mounted front engine / Front-Wheel Drive.|
|Suspension:||Front â€“ MacPherson strut with coil springs.
Rear â€“ Twist-beam axle with coil springs.
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS.Tires: Pirelli Cinturato P7 A/S 205/40 R17 XL 84W BSW mounted on multi-spoke, painted alloy wheels.Wheelbase:90.6 inchesLength Overall:144.4 inchesWidth:64.1 inchesHeight:58.7 inchesCurb Weight:2,512 lbs.Fuel Capacity:10.5 gallonsEPA Mileage Estimates:28-mpg city / 34 -mpg highwayDrag Coefficient:0.3650 – 60 mph: Not tested.