To better appreciate what kind of sensations you can experiment in the little Abarth 500 you're pretty much obligated to drive it like you stole it on the open road. This is where the Italian scorpion can really do some sting damage. We're not talking about quarter mile runs or high speed cruising on the highway, since the Abarth 500 doesn't impress that much with these types of numbers.
For example, the naught to 100 km/h (62 mph) time takes 7.9 seconds, which is a bit far from hardcore sports car territory, while the 205 km/h (127.4 mph) top speed is in the same ballpark as an average econobox. Trust us, if we were to only "test" this car by looking at its spec sheet we would have been as disappointed as you probably are reading this. Thankfully, we also got experiment testing the way the car handles in real life. It's sublime, to put it simply.
The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine might seem a bit puny for the average V8 petrolhead, but when learning it only has to pull a little over 900 kilograms, all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. This is not your average cute, super sixteen present on wheels, but a regular pocket rocket. The exhaust sound is more punk-rock than the death metal/grindcore soundtrack we experienced in the Abarth 500 Essesse, but it's still music for the ears.
The steering is a bit soft, just like in almost any other post-2000 Fiat, but once you press the Sport button it becomes much better. Speaking of the "Sport" button, apart from making the electric-steering effort a bit stiffer, it also adds 20 Nm more of torque via a a preset ECU programming, while also delivering a much better throttle response. Just like the DNA system present on the Alfa MiTo we tested last year, you can really feel the difference between normal and sport mode, transforming the driving experience to something like having two cars in one.
In other words, to actually have fun on the twisties with an Abarth 500 you need just a few things, the TTC (Torque Transfer Control) on, the "Sport" button pressed and a nice and firm grasp of the Abarth steering wheel. The fun is just seconds away and may last until either your tooshie goes numb or the fuel tank depletes. By the way, during our "dynamic driving" stint on a couple of mountain roads, the fuel consumption was around 15 liters per 100 kilometers (US 15.7 mpg), which was about the maximum we could get with this car.
Apart from the aforementioned part, during which we were extracting just about everything we could from the little pocket-rocket, the Abarth used between 5 and 6 liters per 100 kilometers (US 39.2-47 mpg) via more reasonable driving. On the whole, this is how the little "scorpion" 500 should be experienced. It passed every test we threw at it with flying colors, whether it was serpentine roads and adrenaline-filled driving or long distance fuel economy. Continue reading
Hold on, Mary would like to say something...
Best. Chick. Car. Ever. That is what my mind was telling me the second I laid my eyes on its petite figure. Oddly, my opinion somewhat changed during the test drive, but not by much. The only way I would have loved it even more would have been if it was a convertible.
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