Abarth 500C road test

Fiat's official tuning arm gets to work on the convertible 500. Roger Green reports on Abarth's latest

Evo rating
  • The extra poke
  • The lack of bite

What is it?

Abarth’s reworking of the can-opened 500C with 140bhp from its 1.4-litre turbo T-jet engine. It also comes with revised suspension and a ‘race inspired’ Competizione automated manual gearbox. It costs £17,500

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Technical highlights

These centre around that gearbox, for this is the first time we’ve seen it on an Abarth. As usual with this type of ‘box it runs either like an auto or you can flick the wheel-mounted paddles and do it yourself. There are two settings for the speed of change (normal and sport), but unless you ease off the throttle the sport setting is quite jerky.

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What’s it like to drive?

Dynamically it’s not a true Evo car, it’s softer than Abarth’s fixed head 500, and the steering has far too much assistance. It has unashamedly been aimed at female drivers rather than the more hardcore road racers Abarth usually targets, and undoubtedly it will sell bucket loads. The retention of the B and C pillars means that it is structurally sound, but the concertina roof means rearward visibility disappears when it’s lowered. 

How does it compare?

The Mini Cooper convertible is more feisty and fun from behind the wheel, but it is also more expensive.

Anything else I need to know?

This gearbox will become an option on the regular 500 and a double-clutch gearbox is in development. Expect that to be with us in 18 months from now.

Specifications

Enginein-line 4 cyl, 1368cc, turbocharged
Max power140bhp @ 5000rpm
Max torque152lb ft @ 2000rpm
0-608.1sec (claimed)
Top speed127mph
On saleNow - for £17,500
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