Going for “molto bene” in a cutthroat segment

Without a doubt, the Fiat 500 is an absolutely iconic automobile. First rolling off the production line way back in 1957, this tiny little go-getter found owners across Italy, eventually selling nearly 4 million units by the time it was discontinued in 1975. In 2007, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reintroduced the nameplate as a modern front-engine, FWD city car, infusing it with as much charm and fun as possible in an attempt to rekindle the old Cinquecento flame. Although bigger and heavier than those first 500’s, the new model managed to offer some real smiles behind the wheel, especially with the go-faster Abarth versions. Taking cues from the old school sport models, the new 500 Abarth gets more power, firmer suspension, and nippier steering, not to mention every aesthetic performance nod possible in such a small package. Fast forward to today, and the entire Fiat 500 lineup was upgraded for the 2018 model year with a turbo engine and a new look, but the fastest and most aggressive of the bunch remains the Abarth model. Upgrades over the normal 500 once again include all the right stuff – big wheels, big brakes, hard suspension, and more power, not to mention the requisite go-faster stripes in the flanks.

All told, the Fiat 500 remains a quirky and fun little city car with a decent splash of performance, a modern take on a classic micro machine. However, with so many other killer hot hatches on the market, such as the Ford Fiesta ST and Mini Cooper S, can the 500 Abarth keep pace, or has the scorpion lost some of its sting?

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Fiat 500 Abarth.

Fiat 500 Abarth Exterior

  • Small, rounded, bubbly features
  • Three-door hatchback or two-door cab body styles
  • Multiple scorpion badges front to back
  • Standard 16-inch wheels
  • Growling Italian exhaust note
  • Good variety of customization options
  • Flat-black aero enhancements
  • Smaller than a Mini Cooper
2018 Fiat 500 Abarth Exterior
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The Fiat 500 Abarth remains small, rounded, and bubbly, with a smiling fascia and “watch me strut” kind of attitude. If there were ever an automotive equivalent of an excited little dog, this would be it.

In terms of exterior styling, the 2018 Fiat 500 Abarth looks more or less the same as the outgoing model. It’s still small, rounded, and bubbly, with a smiling fascia and “watch me strut” kind of attitude. If there were ever an automotive equivalent of an excited little dog, this would be it.

For the 2018 model year, buyers can still opt into either a three-door hatchback coupe, or a two-door cabriolet body style. Both are quite good, with the coupe being the more serious performer of the two, and the cab being the more fun-loving option.

In front, we find rounded headlights with black trim around the projectors. Rounded fog lights can be found just under the main headlights housings, while along the nose there’s a chrome stripe and a yellow/red Abarth badge (the first of many). Lower in the fascia, the intake gets a black insert with a honeycomb design made from plastic, as well as a small diffuser-type element jutting out from the chin. Faux vents are placed in the sides of the bumper.

Moving into the flanks of the vehicle, we get a better sense for the 500 Abarth’s rounded aesthetic. The roof line on the coupe leads the eye rearwards, giving it a sense of forward momentum that’s only enhanced by the window line. Black trim is used for the window surrounds. Offsetting it all is a cool go-faster stripe between the wheel wells, under which you’ll find standard 16-inch rollers with a Hyper Black finish and aluminum construction. Buyers can also upgrade to 17-inch forged aluminum alloy wheels if desired, with 12 spokes finished in bronze or hyper black. Red brake calipers at all four corners add even more color. Don’t forget another scorpion badge ahead of the rear wheel at the waist line.

2018 Fiat 500 Abarth Exterior
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New for the 2018 model year is the addition of three new exterior colors, including Brillante Red, Mezzanotte Blue Pearl, and Vesuvio Black Pearl.

When viewed from the rear, the Fiat 500 Abarth coupe’s hatchback-ness becomes quite evident. The rear door stands tall and proud, while the upright taillight housings enhance the sense of height. A rear spoiler seems to sprout from the trailing roof edge, while further chrome detailing was added above the license plate frame and the third scorpion badge. Facing the ground is a diffuser element in black, which houses the dual chrome exhaust tips. Word has it the specially tuned Abarth exhaust makes a loud, mean sound, almost like a mini-mite Ferrari. Oh yeah. You know you love it.

New for the 2018 model year is the addition of three new exterior colors, including Brillante Red, Mezzanotte Blue Pearl, and Vesuvio Black Pearl, which bring it up to 11 exterior colors total. Buyers can also get a two-tone color scheme that adds contrasting shades to the side-view mirrors, rear spoiler, stripes, and roof. Several different stripe colors are offered as well. You can even get another Scorpion badge with the optional roof graphics, if desired.

In terms of exterior dimensions, the Fiat 500 is smaller than a Mini Cooper, which is important if you plan on driving it through congested urban areas looking for a parking spot. The 500 is also slightly taller than the U.K.-bred alternative.

Exterior Dimensions 2018 Fiat 500 Abarth Mini Cooper
Length 144.4 inches 151.1 inches
Width 64.1 inches 68 inches
Height 59.2 inches 55.7 inches
Wheelbase 90.6 inches 98.2 inches

Fiat 500 Abarth Interior

  • Several sporty cues throughout
  • Flat-bottom steering wheel
  • Rounded gauge pod
  • Small rear seats
  • Optional high-end materials and upscale features
  • Standard performance seats
  • Separate boost gauge and shift lights
2018 Fiat 500 Abarth Interior
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The various buttons and vents are rounded, much like the rest of the car. The small infotainment screen sits inside a brushed metal-look surround, a material that can also be found on the door handles.

Much like the exterior, the 2018 Fiat 500 Abarth looks more or less unchanged inside the cabin. The steering wheel is a flat-bottom, three-spoke affair with sizable hand bolsters at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions, and it’s trimmed in grippy yet soft material and lined with contrast stitching. The gauge pod consists of a single rounded gauge with further readouts on the periphery. The center console is short, providing additional knee room below, with the shifter placed a higher up than the more traditional central tunnel position. The dash is broad and covered in a high-gloss material available in a variety of different colors. The various buttons and vents are rounded, much like the rest of the car. The small infotainment screen sits inside a brushed metal-look surround, a material that can also be found on the door handles and surrounds for various other buttons.

Fiat says there’s space for four in the cabin, but the rear seats are pretty tiny, and are really only suitable for storage or moving people in a pinch. Basically, the rear bench is not a place you’d wanna find yourself with any regularity, unless of course you were able to somehow twist yourself into some kind of human pretzel.

You also might expect the Fiat 500 to be somewhat practical considering it employs that hatchback body style. However, the small exterior dimensions make the rear cargo space tiny, although it does help to fold the rear bench down. All told, it’s fine for some light grocery shopping, but it’s not gonna move around much more than that. But in all honesty, if you get something like the Fiat 500 Abarth because it’s practicality that you’re after, you’re doing it all very wrong indeed.

Moving on, the Fiat 500 Abarth can feel surprisingly upscale inside when grabbing the optional leather-trimmed seats. You can get yours with either an all-black interior, or black and red upholstery. There’s also an optional power sunroof for the hard top models.

2018 Fiat 500 Abarth Interior
- image 768017
Front-seated passengers will enjoy the standard performance seats, which get sizable side bolsters to stay in place while slinging around a corner during spirited driving

Front-seated passengers will enjoy the standard performance seats, which get sizable side bolsters to stay in place while slinging around a corner during spirited driving. There are even pass-throughs for racing harnesses if you really wanna get frisky. Further accent stitching adds extra flair, while aluminum pedal covers with black rubber inserts are in the footwells for optimum grip levels during complicated heel-toe downshifts.

A rounded boost gauge is mounted just to the left of the main gauge cluster. Put it into Sport mode and the boost gauge will light up with the word “Sport.” There are also shift lights are in the main cluster to help you wring out every last rev.

On the infotainment front, the Fiat 500 Abarth utilizes a standard Uconnect platform. Navigation is optional, as is a premium sound system from Beats Audio, heated front seats, SiriusXM radio, and rubber mates with the scorpion logo.

Fiat 500 Abarth Drivetrain

  • Turbo 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine
  • 160 horsepower and 183 pound-feet of torque
  • 0-to-60 mph time under 7 seconds
  • Five-speed manual, or six-speed automatic
2018 Fiat 500 Abarth Exterior
- image 768003
Properly motivated, the Fiat 500 Abarth can charge up to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds.

Once again, the Fiat 500 Abarth continues with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine for propulsion. Unlike the original Fiat 500’s rear-engine and RWD layout, the new one mounts the motivation in front and drives the front wheels. It uses a single turbo plus intercooling, as well as a single overhead cam, 16 valves, and port fuel injection. It’s also got an iron block and and aluminum head.

Dubbed the MultiAir, the 500 Abarth’s engine creates as much as 160 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 183 pound-feet of torque at 2,400 rpm, besting the rest of the 500 line by 25 horses and 33 pound-feet of torque respectively.

Properly piloted, the Fiat 500 Abarth can charge up to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, eventually reaching its top speed of 132 mph.

A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed automatic with shifter paddles is optional.

Fiat 500 Abarth Chassis And Handling

  • Low curb weight makes for big fun
  • Sporty suspension tuning
  • Electronic aides as standard
  • Free session at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving
2018 Fiat 500 Abarth Exterior
- image 768008
Without a doubt, one of the Fiat 500 Abarth's greatest assets is its feathery curb weight, tipping the scales at just over 2,500 pounds.

Fiat boasts that the 500 Abarth comes with a “world-class ride and track-ready durability” thanks to its upgraded performance suspension system. Complementing the set-up is three-mode electronic stability control, which adds an “innovative torque transfer (TCC) system that maximizes throttle performance during on-throttle cornering.” In addition to the lowered suspension and upgraded electronic bits, the Fiat 500 Abarth uses uber-sticky Pirelli tires.

But without a doubt, one of the Fiat 500 Abarth’s greatest assets is its feathery curb weight. Tipping the scales at just over 2,500 pounds, the Fiat is several hundred pounds lighter than the bantamweight Mini Cooper, which translates into some very tossable driving dynamics.

You can also upgrade the nut behind the wheel, as anyone who buys or leases a 500 Abarth gets a no-cost one-day session at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. We wish more makes would do this, as creating a machine that can perform on the track is one thing, but creating a driver that can make the most of it is something else entirely.

Fiat 500 Abarth Prices

2018 Fiat 500 Abarth Exterior
- image 768007

The Fiat 500 Abarth is available to order now, with arrivals expected for the second quarter of the year. Pricing starts at $19,995 for the hard top and $21,490 for the cabriolet.

Fiat 500 Abarth Competition

Mini Cooper Hardtop S

2014 Mini Cooper High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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When it comes to fun, stylish hatchbacks with loads of character and presence, the Mini Cooper is hard to beat. Like the 500, the Mini is a modern reboot of an old classic, this time hailing from the U.K. The Mini might be a bit larger than the 500, but the rest of it is as you would expect – eye-catching good looks, tossable FWD platform, and oodles of opportunities for customization. Power is provided by a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder mounted in the nose, which produces as much as 189 horsepower and mates with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox. Pricing starts at $21,600, but expect a much fatter bottom line if you even look at the options list. And yeah, you’re definitely gonna want to see the options list.

Read our full review on the 2018 Mini Cooper.

Ford Fiesta ST

2018 Ford Fiesta ST High Resolution Exterior
- image 706946

Ford has its own take on the whole entry-level hot hatch thing, and it’s called the Fiesta ST. While the name doesn’t carry quite the same level of clout as the 500 or Mini, the Fiesta still brings the goods in terms of fun, rocking a turbo-boosted 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder making 197 horsepower and 202 pound-feet of torque. Routing it to the front axle is a manual six-speed transmission as the only gearbox available. Recaro seats in the cabin hold passengers in place, while a 6.5-inch touchscreen is part of the standard equipment list. You also get the added practicality of a five-door body style. Pricing starts at $21,195.

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Fiesta ST.


2018 Fiat 500 Abarth Exterior
- image 767992

When it comes to having fun behind the wheel, the hot hatch segment is where it’s at. This is where high levels of driver engagement and easy at-limit adjustments find a nice meeting point, offering the most economical smiles-per-dollar ratio you can find. To that end, the Fiat 500 Abarth ticks all the right boxes. This car is full of character, and its small, stylish charm is definitely a unique offering in the U.S. market.

That said, it’s not a perfect car. It’s a bit loud for some, the interior fit and finish isn’t the best, and the engine is a little down on power compared to rival entries from Mini and Ford. However, for some buyers, these are mere trifles compared to the feeling this plucky little three-door can give you when you find the right road on a sunny day. We’re eager to see what Fiat does with the nameplate next, but for now, we think the 500 Abarth is definitely worth a look in the segment.

  • Leave it
    • Several very robust competitors in the segment
    • Exhaust might be too loud for some
    • More practical already options on the table
    • A bit underpowered at this point
    • Could use a more substantial refresh


Fiat 500

2018 Fiat 500 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Fiat 500.

2015 Fiat 500 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 547927

Read our full review on the 2017 Fiat 500.

2015 Fiat 500 Abarth High Resolution Exterior
- image 547913

Read our full review on the 2017 Fiat 500 Abarth.

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Read more Chicago Auto Show news.

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Read more Fiat news.

Press release

The Fiat 500 lineup goes all-turbo for 2018, with the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine and a sportier appearance now standard on all models.

“With an all-turbo lineup, the iconic Fiat 500 now offers an even more dynamic driving experience and more standard horsepower than any of its competitors,” said Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Car Brands – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat, FCA – North America. “In fact, the entire FIAT brand lineup now comes standard with turbocharged power, adding to our roster of fun-to-drive, Italian-designed vehicles.”

The 2018 Fiat 500 lineup is available in three models: Pop, Lounge and the high-performance Abarth. Pop and Lounge models now come standard with the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine, which features a single turbocharger, twin intercoolers and a sport-tuned exhaust, and delivers 135 horsepower and 150 lb.-ft. of torque – 34 more standard horsepower than last year’s model. The MultiAir Turbo engine is paired with a five-speed manual transmission as standard and is available with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Pop and Lounge models are also updated with standard 16-inch aluminum wheels, performance braking system, sport suspension and ParkView rear backup camera. Exterior updates include body-color front and rear fascias, side-sill ground effects, a sport spoiler, fog lamps and “Turbo” badging on the liftgate.

On the Fiat 500 Abarth models, the track-tested 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine delivers up to 160 horsepower and 183 lb.-ft. of torque; while Abarth-tuned hardware offers a world-class ride and track-ready durability.

Other unique Abarth features include a performance suspension; three-mode electronic stability control with an innovative torque transfer control (TTC) system that maximizes throttle performance during on-throttle cornering; 16-inch Hyper Black aluminum wheels; and Pirelli tires with red brake calipers. An Abarth-designed concentric “double-tip” dual-exhaust system delivers a high-performance look with menacing Abarth-tuned sound.

Inside, distinctive Abarth-styled front performance seats feature a one-piece design with large side bolsters, a racing-harness pass through, accent stitching around the perimeter and integrated side-thorax air bags. Below the instrument panel, Abarth-designed aluminum pedal covers feature Nero (black) rubber trim for a decidedly racing look.

Should the driver choose to switch to Sport mode in a Fiat 500 Abarth, the turbo-boost gauge, mounted left of the instrument cluster, illuminates “Sport” and an up-shift light integrated in the cluster alerts the driver when engine speed is approaching the redline, giving the immediate feedback needed on the track or during high-performance driving.

Customers who purchase or lease a Fiat 500 Abarth also receive – for no additional charge – a one-day high-performance driving session at the legendary Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.

The 500 lineup also features three new colors for 2018 (late availability) – Brillante Red, Mezzanotte Blue Pearl and Vesuvio Black Pearl – for a total of 11 exterior paint color choices. Any 2018 Fiat 500 model is also available as a Cabrio, delivering open-air freedom across the 500 lineup. 2018 Fiat 500 vehicles are available to order this month, with cars arriving at FIAT studios in the second quarter of this year.

The entire FIAT brand roster – each gasoline-powered model now featuring a standard turbocharged engine – continues to offer a dynamic driving experience and iconic Italian design for 2018:

2018 Fiat 500e
The 2018 Fiat 500e electrifies the Cinquecento lineup with innovation and style, an EPA-tested 84 miles of driving range and 112 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) combined rating of pure battery-electric power (121 MPGe city).­ Offering iconic style, engaging dynamics and an environmentally responsible zero-emissions design, the Fiat 500e is designed to keep electric vehicle ownership simple with its familiar no-nonsense design, convenience features, unique “blended braking” and intelligently integrated approach to battery-electric technology. The 500e is available in California and Oregon.

2018 Fiat 500L
Building on the style, efficiency and driving enjoyment that has made the Fiat 500 an icon, the Fiat 500L expands the Cinquecento’s appeal by offering 42 percent extra interior space with comfortable seating for five, engaging driving dynamics and a standard 160-horsepower 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine, all wrapped in contemporary Italian design. The Fiat 500L offers best-in-class cargo capacity with more than 50 seating and storage configurations.

The 2018 Fiat 500L features a redesigned exterior with new front and rear fascia design, bodyside molding design, wheel designs, daytime running light lens and rear side reflector design, while a standard ParkView rear backup camera delivers additional driver convenience. The 2018 500L’s revamped interior also adds to convenience and ease of use, with a thin-film transistor (TFT) cluster display, an improved center console, additional USB port, LED interior ambient lighting and other interior upgrades. The Uconnect 4 system is standard on all 2018 Fiat 500L models, and includes a 7-inch display and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

2018 Fiat 500X
The 2018 Fiat 500X delivers the Italian design and engaging driving dynamics that are synonymous with the FIAT brand. The 500X offers an advanced all-wheel-drive system, functionality, and a full array of safety, comfort and convenience features. The small crossover features two engine options including the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine standard on Pop models when paired with the six-speed manual transmission, and the 2.4L Tigershark MultiAir2 engine standard on Trekking and Lounge models, an available nine-speed transmission and an all-wheel-drive system with a disconnecting rear axle for improved fuel efficiency.

New for 2018, the Fiat 500X now features the Uconnect 4 system standard on all models, which includes a 7-inch display and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

2018 Fiat 124 Spider
The newest member of the FIAT product lineup, the 2018 Fiat 124 Spider revives the storied nameplate, bringing its classic Italian styling and performance to a new generation. Paying homage to the original 124 Spider 50 years after its introduction, the 2018 Fiat 124 Spider delivers the ultimate Italian roadster experience with driving excitement, technology and safety combined with iconic Italian design. With the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine as standard, the 124 Spider has the most powerful 4-cylinder in its class.

The Fiat 124 Spider is available in three trim levels: Classica, Lusso and, for performance enthusiasts, Abarth. For 2018, the Fiat 124 Spider offers more flexible package content, allowing customers to select the exact options they desire. The all-new Red Top Edition is now available on Lusso models and will be arriving in dealerships soon.

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