2016 Fiat 500c Abarth Review: Everything’s a compromise

– Detroit, Michigan

It’s probably fair to say that America has yet to warm to the entire Fiat 500 line. Sales are slack in 2016, and the model didn’t outsell the Mini Cooper last year, either. And though sales figures aren’t readily available for something as granular as the 500c Abarth flavor of the subcompact, my gut tells me it isn’t shouldering most of the load.

I guess technically then, this qualifies as an Italian exotic? That feels right, for this not-quite-hot, near-convertible city car is both utterly charming and almost impossible to live with over long stretches. Just don’t accuse it of being commonplace.

 

 

Pros

  • Look at this little bastard! Screaming Giallo Moderna Perla (“modern pearl yellow”) and a stripe package, over 17-inch, Hyper Black wheels that have been pushed way, way out to the corners of infinity; every inch of this car screams “look at me!” If you’re into making a statement wherever you drive and park, you could do worse.
  • Even the blind guy walking down the sidewalk will notice you, thanks to an exhaust note that approximates a Lamborghini with a head cold and a dose of Little Man Complex. I started the Abarth on a cold morning in my driveway, and the initial blat of exhaust upon turnover was enough to wake every dog on my block. Sorry, neighbors. As with the looks, if you’re not into a snarling city car, throw this “pro” down on the “cons” list.
  • A turbocharged 1.4-liter making 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque is plenty to make this cabr...