Fiat 500 Abarth buying guide - Fiat 500 Abarth buying checkpoints

Everything you need to know when looking a the sporty Fiat 500 model

CHECKPOINTS

The message we got from the specialists we talked to is that the Abarth 500 is a well-built, reliable, durable car. Fact. ‘We’ve seen no real problems with Abarths at all,’ says Neil Smith at Italian-car specialist NJS Motor Vehicle Services in Pershore, ‘and they are very well built.’ Nigel Bennett at tuning specialist Nuova 500 Shop in Leamington Spa concurs: ‘The build quality is far above anything Fiat ever did before. We’ve had a 500 Cup car with a wide body which has done 140,000 miles in two years, and nothing has gone wrong with it.’

Engine

The engine is a development of the old Fiat FIRE engine, the first to be built automatically by robots, and the tough block has changed little. There appear to be no recurring problems with it and it demands little attention – official service intervals are a massive 18,000 miles. ‘Most people specify an intermediate oil change at 9000, which we recommend,’ says Smith. A little oil usage between changes is normal.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

Tuning upgrades are popular; ‘We’ve done 70 Abarths so far,’ says Bennett, ‘and because we don’t have to worry about worldwide emissions standards like the manufacturers do, we can create a more linear torque delivery and make the engine less peaky.’

Transmission

No problems here. The gearbox and driveshafts have proved durable in the Abarth’s short life to date, and Nigel knows of only one 500 that’s had a new clutch. And that was a diesel. A recent addition to the options list was a double-clutch transmission with paddleshifters.

Suspension, brakes

Again, the cars are too new to have shown up problems here, although NJS has replaced a few anti-roll-bar droplinks. Bushes, dampers and ball joints have so far proved trouble-free. The electric power steering is proving reliable, too.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Check which springs and dampers are fitted to a prospective purchase: standard, Esseesse kit or aftermarket tuning items.

Bodywork, interior, electrics

‘We’ve seen a few niggly trim problems but nothing major,’ says Bennett. ‘The washer jets can fall to pieces and the outside door handles can work loose, but otherwise it’s pretty robust.’ It’s worth checking that stripes and other body graphics are still firmly attached as they might be starting to peel off.

The Microsoft-based Blue&Me ‘infotainment’ system in early 500s wouldn’t talk to iPods owing to internecine warfare in the computer industry, but this nonsense can be fixed with an adaptor. Later cars communicate as they should.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/features/17660/the-best-four-cylinder-engines-ever-we-pick-our-favourites
Features

The best four-cylinder engines ever

We've gathered a selection of our very favourite four-pots ever produced
27 May 2020
Visit/aston-martin/db11-coupe/21304/2020-aston-martin-db11-amr-review-a-better-car-but-is-it-a-better
Aston Martin DB11 coupe

2020 Aston Martin DB11 AMR review

We were less than impressed when we drove the original DB11 V12. So what exactly has happened in the transformation to this more potent AMR version to…
30 May 2020
Visit/jaguar/202674/jaguar-xjr-9-the-anatomy-of-a-group-c-racer
Jaguar

Jaguar XJR-9: the anatomy of a Group C racer

Famously victorious at Le Mans in 1988, Jaguar’s XJR-9 ended Porsche’s dominance during sports car racing’s golden era
31 May 2020
Visit/alpine/202670/renault-announces-future-road-map-alpine-a110-safe-for-now
Alpine

Renault announces future road map – Alpine A110 safe, for now

Despite speculation Renault would halt Alpine production early to cut costs, Dieppe will survive amongst a large-scale reorganisation of the business …
29 May 2020