2016 FIAT 500C Abarth Cabrio

absolutely! AUTO REVIEW | By Steve Kursar –

2016 FIAT 500C Abarth Cabrio

2016 FIAT 500C Abarth Cabrio

The 2016 Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio is the affordable cure to a mid-life crisis. One of the most stylish compact cars on the road, it has no practical back seat, and the trunk space is laughable, but get behind the wheel, and you won’t want to let go. The car is built to go fast, be loud and make your neighbors jealous. This is not the car for a shy driver.

The original Fiat 500 – “Cincquecento” in Italian – began life in post-war Italy as a tiny, rear-engine car powered by a two-cylinder engine. It was inexpensive, easy to park on crowded city streets and became wildly popular with young European drivers. Carlo Abarth, an Austrian racing car designer and tuner, joined Fiat in the early 1970s and became famous for turning stock vehicles into racers. In 2007, on the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Nueva 500, Fiat introduced the current generation 500 as a front-engine car with a distinct retro look.

The base 2016 Fiat 500 is powered by a relatively tame 101 hp, 1.4 liter four-cylinder engine that can be mated to either five-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. But, the Abarth model is a whole different animal. It comes with a 160 hp, 1.4 liter MultiAir Turbo engine mated to an automatic transmission that delivers EPA fuel estimates of 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway and will get you from zero to 60 in just over seven seconds.

It’s not just the peppy powertrain that makes people want to drive this little car really fast. There is the concentric “double-tip” dual-exhaust system that delivers a menacing Abarth-tuned roar that is loud and fun to hear. Switch it into Sport mode, and the car becomes track-ready with performance features such as fuel-cut upshifts, rev-matching downshifts and corner gear hold.

The Abarth 500 gets some exterior upgrades over the standard 500 to give it a more aggressive, athletic look. Fiat badging is replaced with Abarth shields that sport a stylized scorpion, and the Cabrio features a power-operated cloth-top that you can retract while driving.

MSRP pricing for the base Fiat 500 Abarth starts at $22,495, and the Cabrio version adds about another $4,000. You could try and cure that mid-life crisis with a Ferrari, but the Fiat Abarth is a whole lot cheaper and almost as much fun.

Follow Steve Kursar at  KursarOnCars.