2019 Fiat 500 Abarth Driven
The reborn, retro-chic, Fiat 500 first graced North American shores back in 2011 and now, eight years down the line, we got behind the wheel of the peppy Abarth version to get one final sting from the scorpion as the entire 500 range is being discontinued by Fiat-Chrysler. Prepare for some top-down driving as we assess whether we’ll miss the 500 for what it is or for its vibe akin to an endless summer holiday in the rolling hills of Tuscany.
The Fiat 500 L is classified as a Compact MPV – Minivan, as we know the term here in the United States – but it’s really more of a compact SUV or large hatchback. It’s been on the global market since 2012, but Fiat didn’t bring it to the states until the 2014 model year. It’s been on the market ever since, and was updated in 2018, but the truth of the matter is that the 500 L is still nearly eight years old. With this in mind, we’re kind of curious if the city car on steroids – remember, it’s based on the 500 city car – is still a viable choice in today’s market.
So, we spoke with our press fleet coordinator and managed to get our hands on a 2019 Fiat 500 L. A couple of weeks later, a 2019 Fiat 500 L Trekking showed up at Top Speed headquarters. This trim level sits above the entry-level Pop trim, but below the upper-class Urbana and Lounge trim levels with a starting price of $23,575. It is certainly positioned right in the middle of the affordable price bracket, but how does it drive? Is the aging 500 L comfortable and up to par with the competition? Does it provide the same thrills and entertaining experience as the smaller 500 that it’s based on? Well, after spending a week with the 2019 Fiat 500 L, we have answers to these questions and more – this is our story.
A New EV-Only Fiat 500 Is on the Way, But What Will It Look Like?
Fiat has been selling the current 500 city runabout for over ten years, mostly unchanged, and it will have to replace it with an all-new model fairly soon. Back in 2007, when it was first revealed, it was a response to the success that BMW was having with the MINI Cooper and VW with its revived Beetle, both of which were unashamedly retro-inspired.
Times are changing now, and the focus is more on how green cars are these days, as well as their level of perceived quality - how “premium” they feel. Fiat is reportedly working on the next-gen 500 and it is apparently not only going to be slightly bigger than the current car, but also fully-electric and considerably more luxurious.
2019 Fiat Centoventi Concept
For its 120th birthday, Fiat went to the 2019 Geneva Motor Show to present a concept car, except it’s really not a concept car. It’s called the Centoventi Concept, which literally translates to “one hundred and twenty” in our language. It’s not the most creative concept name in the world, but it’ll do, especially when you begin to understand what it’s really all about. Fiat’s press release calls the Centoventi Concept a vehicle that “perfectly expresses the Italian brand’s idea of electric mass mobility in the near future.” What that phrase doesn’t tell you is that the Centoventi Concept is a lot more than just a representation of Fiat’s vision for its future electric. The concept is also a blank canvas that invites user customization. It’s a design-your-own ride that lets you personalize the car’s design from the ground up. Future urban mobility? Sure, the concept is that, too. But it’s really a modular platform for creativity. The Centoventi Concept doesn’t really have a “look,” in large part because that “look” will depend on how you design it.
2019 Abarth 595 Esseesse
Fiat will launch a new performance flagship model for the 500 range in the form of the new, 2019 Abarth 595 esseesse that’s set to debut at the 2019 Geneva motor show. The Italian brand is also not only celebrating its 120th anniversary this year but the 70th anniversary of Abarth too, hence why it’s bringing this 500 and a limited series version of the Abarth 124 roadster to the auto show.
Fiat didn’t really want to make the 500e, but it was forced by emissions regulations to add a full EV to its lineup, which it reluctantly did back in 2013. The vehicle itself wasn’t received particularly well at the time, being criticized for its limited range and availability, as well as its high price - it can only be ordered in the states of California and Oregon, although there are plenty you can now buy second hand wherever you live, even in Europe where it was never intended to be sold.
Believe it or not, the 500e is still on sale and has gone essentially unchanged for the last six years, but it’s never really been that popular, an issue with which it hasn’t been helped by the constant introduction of new and better EVs. But, the 500e is not all bad, thanks to its instantly recognizable styling, peppy performance, and decent usability if you’re buying it exclusively for short journeys not too far away from a charging point.
2019 Fiat 500X
Fiat has revealed its revised 500X crossover which has been nipped and tucked for the first time since its 2014 European debut (in the US for the 2016 model year it was launched). It comes with a refreshed exterior with new front and rear light clusters, more tech, and improved engines.
Update 12/12/2018: We’ve updated this review with images taken at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Check them out in our gallery below!
Is The 2018 Fiat Panda a Death Trap? Here’s the Crash Test Video
Back in 2015, EuroNCAP rated the 2014 Fiat Panda Cross with three-star safety rating. Four years before, the same organization - the European New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP), tested the car and granted it a rather high four-star rating. Fast forward to 2018, and a recent safety evaluation tallied the Fiat Panda up as erringly bad. It received zero stars after EuroNCAP safety test performed in Brussels.
Is this now a worse car than it was before? How did it devolve? How can anyone buy it?
Well, let me tell you right away, the 2018 Fiat Panda is still the same car that it was in 2011. It did not change - at all. However, the EuroNCAP testing procedure is not the same. It is dramatically stricter, now requiring far more in terms of active safety gear. It also uses different dummies for testing (with a system that recognizes potential injuries better than before), and it tests the car for speed assistance, lane support, seat-belt reminders, and automatic emergency braking. None of this was required back in the day.
To answer the question from the title of this article I have to tell you that the latest 2018 Fiat Panda is not actually a death trap. It is just a simple city car that actually “meets or exceeds federal safety requirements in every market in which it is sold.”
2018 Fiat 500 1957 Edition
Fans of the Fiat 500 can’t seem to get enough of the 500 1957 Edition, so much so that the Italian automaker is rolling out a new version of the special edition model. The “new” 500 1957 Edition arrives this fall at a starting price of $20,740. There’s no stated cap on the model’s volume, but the package is available on hardtop and convertible versions of the 500.
2018 Fiat 500L S-Design
Fiat adds another name to its line of S-Design models, this time the family-friendly 500L. Based on the crossover-inspired 500L Cross, the aim of the S-Design version is to inject some extra style into the package, like it’s already done with the Tipo, 500X and 124 Spider.
2018 Fiat 500 Spiaggina by Garage Italia and Pinninfarina
Marking the 60th anniversary since the unveiling of the first special edition car based on the model 500 - the 500 Jolly, known as "Spiaggina," Fiat showcased their new limited edition of the latest Fiat 500. Called the Fiat 500 Spiaggina ’58, the new model is limited to 1958 units. A number which is an homage to the year Fiat showcased the original 500 Jolly, a car adored by rich and famous of the time.
However, apart from Fiat showcasing a rather cool Spiaggina ‘58 production model based on the 500C with a 1.2-liter, 69 horsepower engine, Garage Italia and Pininfarina prepared their own celebration model. It is a better one.
As the first Fiat car with an all-wheel-drive system, the Fiat 500X is definitely a unicorn when it comes to the Italian producer. It seems, though, that Fiat is only stuck with this unicorn, as their plan for the next five years does not include any major revitalization or rejuvenation. And, if the brand wants to survive, that is exactly what it needs. Actually, having Fiat completely disappear in a few years’ time isn’t that of a far-fetched idea.
Yet, despite all the media scrutiny that has been present ever since cheerful Marchionne laid out the new plan for the FCA group, Fiat revealed a new car called the 500X Adventurer Edition.
It is obviously yet another attempt at freshening up the car which appeared all the way back in 2014.
Chrysler isn’t on the Chopping Block Yet; Fiat to Retreat, Become Euro-Only EV Brand
FCA’s investor meeting has taken place, and the official word is that Chrysler will carry on as a North-American.-only brand and Fiat will become a Euro-only EV brand. To take things even further, a company spokesperson has also said that Dodge won’t be killed off either. That’s a pretty bold move from FCA considering how unpopular Chrysler and Fiat have become here. What happens with these brands next, however, will determine whether or not they’ll continue to stick around long term.
Sergio Marchionne May Kill Off Chrysler, Remove Fiat from the U.S. Market
The Chrysler brand has had a good run with roots that trace all the way back to its formation in 1925. A rich and iconic history, however, isn’t enough to keep a brand going and it looks like the Chrysler nameplate may get killed off just a few years before it’s 100-year anniversary. That’s the word from an Automotive News report that Sergio Marchionne could kill off the brand at the June 1st investor’s meeting in Balocco, Italy.
The Fiat 500 might be a bit unconventional by modern styling trends, but it has its own loyal following. Never has that been more evident than when we look at its sales figures, which have exceeded more than 1.5-million units sold since 2007. Needless to say, it’s an old favorite among its followers and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon. It was updated for the 2016 model year and will probably get a revamp in the near future. Until then, we want to cater to our 500 fanboys out there and declare the Fiat 500 our wallpaper of the day. We’ve hand-picked our favorite, but there’s plenty more in the gallery at the bottom of this page if you find yourself wanting a little more. Go ahead and snag them up – they are free!
2018 Fiat 500 Urbana Edition
Originally introduced in 1957, the Fiat 500 remained in production for nearly 20 years, during which it became one of the most iconic vehicles in history. The nameplate was revived in 2007 as a competitor for the modern Volkswagen Beetle and Mini Cooper and was received with great enthusiasm. However, Fiat didn’t do much to upgrade it over the last 11 years, with only two minor facelifts launched as of 2018. The latest update was unveiled at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show, where Fiat also brought the turbocharged 1.4-liter engine back to the U.S. in a non-Abarth model. Two months later and the Italian brand launched a new special edition model called the Urbana Edition.
It’s become quite common for automakers to add special edition models when their facelifts aren’t very consistent, and this is exactly what the Urbana Edition is all about. With add-ons that include black trim, new wheels, and a limited color palette, the Urbana Edition was designed to keep things interesting for a vehicle that’s getting a bit long in the tooth. The 500 is not alone in this though, as both the 500L and 500X received identical packages. The 500 Urbana Edition will become available this spring.
Continue reading to learn more about the Fiat 500 Urbana Edition.
2018 Fiat 500 Abarth
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.
2017 Abarth 695 Rivale
The Abarth 500 has been on the receiving end of some interesting special edition models in the past. We’ve seen the Abarth 695 Biposto Record, the 595 Yamaha Factory Racing Edition, and the 500 Track Experience, among others. None of them, though, can lay claim to the title of being the “most sophisticated Abarth ever.” That distinction, according to Abarth itself, now rests on the shoulders of the 695 Rivale Special Edition.
Developed specifically to celebrate the company’s close ties to yacht maker Riva, the 695 Rivale is the physical embodiment of the premium luxury that goes into the craft of building those sea vessels. Safe to say, that “most sophisticated Abarth ever” title fits the 695 Rivale. It’s inundated with aesthetic features that shine a big spotlight on the nautical theme of the compact car. Inside and out, the 695 Rivale is decked to the brim with luxury, the kind you expect from any one of the yachts that Riva has built in its 175-year history. The special edition Abarth 695 doesn’t pack any power or performance upgrades, but that’s an inconsequential omission when you compare it to the quantity and quality of cosmetic additions given to the hot hatch. There’s no word yet on how many models Abarth plans to build of the 695 Rivale, but another special edition model, the Abarth 695 Rivale 175th Anniversary, is limited to just 350 units, divided into 175 units for the coupe model and another 175 for the cabriolet version.
Update 02/21/2018: Our friend Cyril stopped by a showroom in Paris and snapped a few shots of the Abarth 695 Rivale. Check them out in the gallery below!
2018 Fiat 500
One of Fiat’s most iconic nameplates, the 500 was originally introduced in 1957 and kept in production for almost two decades, until 1975. The nameplate was revived in 2007 as a neo-retro design based on the first mini car. It was Fiat’s answer to the modern Volkswagen Beetle and Mini Cooper, introduced in 1997 and 2000, respectively. The new 500 was received with great enthusiasm, and the addition of convertible and Abarth models made it that much more popular. However, unlike the Mini Cooper, the 500 soldiered on unchanged for years, with its first update launched in 2015. Three years have passed, and Fiat is again updating the small hatchback.
Unveiled at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show alongside the rest of Fiat’s North American lineup, the update is far from spectacular, but it does add a few new features to the 500’s cute exterior. The interior carries over unchanged, which is somewhat disappointing, but the drivetrain department has a new engine to brag about. It’s not as new as it is rehashed from an old model, but it’s significantly more powerful than the outgoing unit. More about that in the review below.
Continue reading to learn more about the Fiat 500.