Fiat Abarth 500C 15 | 08 | 2010Scotcars rating

    Abarth turns the Fiat 500C into a pocket-rocket


    ’Pocket-rocket’ became an overused term a few years ago, but it’s the one phrase that kept springing to mind for me behind the wheel of the latest creation from Fiat’s high performance marque, Abarth. The Abarth 500C is a nifty package, combining the cornerstone of lively performance with wind-in-the-hair open top driving. The standard soft top 500C has been thoroughly re-engineered and will be a huge draw to the Abarth name which was re-launched in 2008 and has already been a great success.

    There are already 19 dedicated Abarth dealers in the UK — there’s one in Scotland — and that’s growing all the time with a target of 30 in the foreseeable future. The engine is the same 1.4-litre turbo that’s used on the Abarth 500 hatchback but the ECU has been reprogrammed to produce another 5bhp of performance but hold on to low levels of CO2 and impressive economy of 43mpg. It’s a real fun car and if you get the right roads and decent weather you can really enjoy yourself.

    The car is rich in rewards on the road

    On the road

    Behind the wheel the most significant feature is the Abarth Competizione gearbox, the outward sign of which is the simple dashboard-mounted four-button control with 1, N and R for the gears and A or M for auto or manual change. In manual drive, changes are through the steeringwheel-mounted paddles and for added delight, the Sport button triggers quicker gearchanges and engine responses and adds weight to the electric steering.

    You can also select the Torque Transfer Control which uses the ESP sensors and braking system to mimic a limited slip differential and inhibit understeer. What that means is great fun on the road with silky smooth gearchanges up and down the box, a nice throaty burble from the twin tailpipes and lungsfull of fresh air with the roof down. Throwing it round the wild roads of the exposed Yorkshire moors was sheer delight.

    Comfort & Safety

    The car is rich in rewards on the road but there’s also the feeling that the Abarth engineers have done a lot of work in making the car solid and sound. Much work has been done on the suspension to hold the car on the road with superb handling and precise control. It also comes with big bright red brake callipers which do a great job in slowing down the 16in alloys. Seven airbags are standard, along with Xenon headlights giving three times the light of traditional halogen beams. It’s a four seater, but it’s really only good for two; better still, save all the pleasure for you alone.

    Should I buy one?

    A great wee car which brings back affordable fun.

    Alan Douglas

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £17,500 / £18,900
    Engine / Power: 1368cc / 140bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 8.1secs, Max 128mph
    How big/heavy?: H1485mm  W1893mm  L3657mm
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 43.5mpg / CO2 151g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: 27 / Band G, £150
    Alternatives: Mini Cooper Convertible

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