The 500c Abarth was designed with sporty handling in mind, and to that end the convertible boasts a number of modifications compared to the standard-issue 500c. The front and rear springs are stiffer by 40 and 20 percent, respectively, ride height is lowered by 0.7 inches and Koni shocks have been installed up front. The front brakes have also grown an inch in diameter to 11.1 inches total. The result of all the changes is a car that turns in more eagerly, corners with a minimum of body roll and stops with authority.
The modest output of the normal 500c's 1.4-liter four-cylinder (101 horsepower, 98 lb-ft of torque) is increased to a stout 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque thanks to a turbocharger. The only transmission available is a five-speed manual, which sends power to the front wheels and helps the diminutive Fiat attain sixty mph from a dead stop in roughly seven seconds.
Fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.
To help drivers learn how to make the most of the car, the price of admission includes a track day at the Abarth Driving Experience. The day-long track event is conducted by instructors from the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
Helping the 500c Abarth look the part is a meaner front fascia with dual "nostrils" designed to maximize airflow in and out of twin intercoolers, unique 16-inch wheels (17-inchers are optional), special Abarth badging and a dual-exhaust setup. Around back, the car gets aerodynamic enhancements like a rear spoiler and diffuser.
Inside, the steering wheel is a thick-rimmed, flat bottom Abarth unit with perforated leather trim. Racy touches include aluminum pedals, a black leather-trimmed shift knob and a unique analog turbo-boost gauge with LED shift lights that illuminate during gear changes. Both the front and rear seats feature additional bolstering to keep everyone in place during spirited drives.
Standard and Optional Features
The 500c Abarth comes standard with A/C, power windows and locks, an Alpine AM/FM/CD stereo with AUX and USB inputs, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, "performance cloth" high-back bucket seats, aluminum pedal covers, heated and power-adjustable exterior mirrors, cruise control and 16-inch aluminum wheels.
Options include leather upholstery, a six-speaker Beats audio system and a Comfort and Convenience Group package that bundles automatic climate control, heated seats and SiriusXM satellite radio.
All 500c Abarth models are fitted with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag and traction and stability control systems.
There are relatively few convertibles available around the 500c Abarth's price point. The little Fiat's most direction rival is the MINI Cooper Convertible, which packs nearly 40 fewer horsepower but features more interior space and similarly engaging handling dynamics. For those seeking the fun of a vintage British roadster with Japanese reliability, the Mazda MX-5 Miata, while the more expensive Ford Mustang Convertible offers 305 horsepower in a larger and somewhat less wieldy package.