Fiat’s very own Mini Cooper S rival, the 500 Abarth will go on sale sometime this month, with the first deliveries starting in April. While the performances of the Fiat are inferior to the ones of the Cooper (as we will demonstrate further), its neat-looking (some might even say cute) design does have the ability to convince some to buy it.
Powered by a 1.4-liter inline four cylinder turbocharged engine, the Fiat 500 Abarth is 0.6 seconds slower to 60 than its British counterpart (which means a total of 7.2 seconds). Top speed is set around 130 mph. This engine delivers 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a 5-speed manual, because apparently, Fiat engineers just didn’t have the space to place an extra gear.
The Mini Cooper S, although heavier, has more power, which is available at a wider RPM range. The suspension and steering in the Mini are also a lot more responsive. The brakes function better in the British car, as the Italian one wiggles a bit when braking at high speeds.
Official figures for the fuel consumption are 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.
While we are very pleased by the 500 Abarth’s exterior design, the interior is a real let down. The driver’s seat is rendered uncomfortable because of the oddly-placed steering wheel. Buttons and switches on the central console also fail to provide, and the overall passenger space is smaller than in the Mini Cooper S.
In this reviewer’s opinion, the Fiat is still worth buying. Although the interior is a disappointment, the excellent exterior design and mediocre performance would convince me to buy it (if I was looking for a vehicle in this class, of course.)
Base price starts at $22,000. With every option checked, you would get to $27,000, four grand cheaper than a similarly equipped Mini Cooper S.
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