With nine months of year-over-year sales gains during 2013 and off to a great start in 2014, the tiny Fiat 500 is becoming increasingly popular nationwide, mostly because of its classic look and affordable price. Its 101-horsepower, inline-four engine won’t break any speed records, but this is where the brawnier Abarth version comes in. Yes, the Fiat 500 Abarth is being readied for the 2015 model year as we speak, with the high-performance city car scheduled to be showcased during the New York Auto Show later this month, in both hatchback and cabrio guises.
To keep the 500 Abarth appealing for 2015, the Italians have operated a number of interior and powertrain updates without altering the vehicle’s sporty character. In fact, the new transmission the 500 Abarth is set to receive promises to offer "an even more engaged driving experience."
Last time we drove the Fiat 500 Abarth we dubbed it "mini Ferrari" . Now let’s find out if this little, turbocharged hatch is ready to carry its legacy even further.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth and Abarth Cabrio.
If you're familiar with the 2014 model, then you might as well prepare for a similar package for 2015
If you’re familiar with the 2014 model, then you might as well prepare for a similar package for 2015. If you’re familiar with the 2014 model, then you might as well prepare for a similar package for 2015. There are no significant changes on the outside and it appears that the Abarth won’t benefit from the new paint colors introduced on the regular Fiat 500 .
This means the high-performance city car will go on sale with its already familiar exterior hues, namely Rosso (red), Nero Puro (black), Bianco (white) and Granito Lucente (granite crystal). Each of these body colors are complemented by the traditional Abarth side stripe available in either red or black.
2015 Fiat 500 Abarth - Exterior Dimensions
|Track, Front||55.4 Inches|
|Track, Rear||55.0 Inches|
|Overall Length||144.4 Inches|
|Overall Width||64.1 Inches |
73.5 Inches with side mirrors
|Overall Height||59.2 Inches to antenna|
When the 500 Abarth is manhandled in Sport mode, the new seven-inch screen switches to a more aggressive display to with the vehicle's assertive exhaust note.
Changes become more obvious once we move into the cabin, where a slightly redesigned center console and an updated instrument panel are to be found. When the 500 Abarth is manhandled in Sport mode, the new seven-inch screen switches to a more aggressive display to with the vehicle’s assertive exhaust note. The latter incorporates a standard seven-inch TFT display that allows the driver to monitor and configure vehicle information, such as speed and fuel consumption, but it can also be used as a reverse camera in conjunction with the Rear Park Assist.
Lastly, Fiat reshaped the cup holder and added a new USB port (integrated to the radio), while Bluetooth streaming audio complements the already available phone connectivity.
2015 Fiat 500 Abarth - Interior Dimensions
|Head room||38.9 Inches|
|Shoulder room||49.4 Inches|
|Hip room||47.8 Inches|
|EPA front row interior volume, cu. ft. (cu. m)||45.3 (1.282)|
|Head room||35.5 Inches|
|Shoulder room||46.4 Inches|
|Hip room||42.6 Inches|
|EPA second row interior volume, cu. ft.||30.2|
|Total Interior Volume, cu. ft.||5.5|
the new six-speed auto comes with a specific Sport mode calibration that allows the driver to perform fuel-cut upshifts, rev-matching downshifts and corner gear hold
The 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth will hit showrooms floors with the same turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir engine under the hood. With no updates in store, the small unit delivers the same 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque that were available the previous year. The unit is zippy enough to propel the vehicle from naught to 60 mph in about 6.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 129 mph.
Although the powerplant remains unchanged, the 500 Abarth is gaining, for the first time, an optional six-speed automatic transmission provided by Aisin. To enable the gearbox to cope with the Abarth’s higher torque, the unit has been reinforced with more clutch plates before being connected to the engine.
Naturally, the new six-speed auto comes with a specific Sport mode calibration that allows the driver to perform fuel-cut upshifts, rev-matching downshifts and corner gear hold.
2015 Fiat 500 Abarth - Drivetrain Specifications
|Engine||1.4-liter Turbocharged 16-valve I-4 With Belt-Driven SOHC And MultiAir CVVT|
|Transmission||5-Speed Manual/six-speed automatic|
|Powertrain Layout||Front-engine, Front-drive|
|Power (HP @ RPM)||160 @ 5,500|
|Torque (LB-FT @ RPM)||170 @ 2,500|
|0-60 mph (seconds)||6.9, est|
|Top Speed (mph)||129 mph|
|EPA Fuel Economy MPG (City/Highway/Combined) - Manual||28/34/30|
There’s no pricing info at the time of this writing, but the 2015 500 Abarth should cost about $23,000 before any options, while the Cabrio version is expected to begin at $27,000. The automatic transmission option is likely to fetch between $1,500 and $2,000.
Built on BMW’s brand new UKL platform, the 2014 Mini Cooper was unveiled with a new, more aggressive design, that’s likely to make it more attractive than the Abarth. Same goes for the interior, which is more refined and more customizable, with five colors and ten different seat designs up for grabs.
On the powertrain front, the base Cooper sports an inline-three, 1.5-liter engine rated at 136 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of the torque. Moving over to the Cooper S, the brawnier version of the hatchback has 192 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque at its disposal via a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder unit.
The former retails from $19,950, while the latter begins at $23,600. You don’t need to be scientist to conclude that the Mini Cooper S outguns the 500 Abarth in terms of hp per buck, but don’t forget that the British vehicle can become quite pricey once you check a few boxes on the options list.
Park a Fiat 500 Abarth near a 2014 Ford Fiesta ST and you’ll notice two things. The latter is slightly larger and has an extra pair of doors. Needless to say, that could pass as an advantage, but on the other hand, the Fiesta lacks the 500’s classic appeal. In the end, it’s a matter of taste and needs.
Interior-wise, the new Fiesta ST received comprehensive cabin upgrades, including more soft-touch materials, standard MyFord Touch infotainment and standard bucket-like sports seats. The available Recaro front seats add yet another dash of sportiness to Fiesta ST, which has what it takes to be a worthy competitor for the Abarth-branded city car.
Only one engine is available with the Fiesta ST: a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-pot that generates 197 horsepower and 202 pound-feet of torque. This powerful four-pot enables the Fiesta ST to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds — just slightly quicker than the 500 Abarth. Top speed is electronically-limited at 130 mph. Pricing starts at $21,400, but you’ll have to pay more if you want Recaro seats and a power moonroof.
Fiat is obviously trying to broaden its U.S. customer base by adding an automatic transmission to the sprightly 500 Abarth. While we understand the business case behind an auto, we can’t help but recommend the 2015 Abarth with a manual. At least take them both for a test drive before you sign a check. The interior upgrades are welcomed, but what we’d like to see on this Fiat are a couple of new, lively colors to go with its funky character.
- Updated interior
- Available automatic transmission
- Sounds mean under full throttle
- Competitors offer more power for the buck
- Very small interior
- Limited exterior/interior color options
Gallery Fiat 500 Abarth
The high-performance 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth and Abarth Cabrio, to be showcased at the 2014 New York International Auto Show, will be available with an optional six-speed automatic transmission, helping to broaden the customer base for the high-performance version of the Fiat 500.
“Adding an optional automatic transmission makes the Abarth and Abarth Cabrio accessible to an entirely new group of customers who want to enjoy the thrilling driving experience of the Fiat 500 Abarth with the convenience of an automatic gearbox,” said Jason Stoicevich, Head of FIAT Brand for North America, Chrysler Group LLC.
To ensure the 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth and Abarth Cabrio remain true to their high-performance and track-ready heritage, the six-speed automatic transmission – Aisin AW6F25 six-speed – has been reinforced with more clutch plates and a more robust heat treatment to allow for higher torque capability. The Sport mode calibration allows for an even more engaged driving experience with special features such as fuel-cut upshifts, rev-matching downshifts, brake-assist downshifts, corner gear hold and fast-off gear hold, as well as a more aggressive pedal map.
Both the automatic and manual transmission options for the 2015 Fiat Abarth and Abarth Cabrio will be paired with the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine. Both Abarth models will continue to include the segment-exclusive Abarth Track Experience, which allows Fiat 500 Abarth drivers to learn how to maximize their driving skills with a full day of professional driving instruction.