What it is: The Abarth is Fiat’s sports-focused trim of the 500 city car. The ‘C” designation is for cabrio, which gives you a sliding soft top roof that opens from the windshield, all of the way to the trunk. It has a few automatic stopping points along the way, so you can choose how far you’d like to recline the top. The edges of the roof remain intact, so it’s a little more like peeling back a sardine can than a traditional convertible.

The Fiat 500 hasn’t changed too much since its introduction in the early 2010’s. The Abarth trim is still powered by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 160 horsepower. It has a raucous exhaust note that is just as charming as its Italian exterior design.

The interior feels dated. The infotainment system is borderline for a modern car. My test model wasn’t equipped with the optional BEATS-branded stereo, and it was certainly missed while cruising with the top down. Fiat has increased the color choices available, with seven colors now being available.

The driving experience is quite enjoyable. While some complain of an awkward seating position, it doesn’t bother me at all. The Abarth begs to be thrown around and the exhaust eggs you on to keep the acceleration going. Its small size and weight give an agile feeling to the car you don’t see very more in modern cars. My test model was equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission ($995) which is much more livable on a day-to-day basis than the five-speed manual. The dread of the manual is not stop-and-go driving, but the lack of a real highway gear, so you have to drive at 3,000 RPM when commuting.

MPG: 27 combined/24 city/32 highway
Price: $21,490 base price for Cabrio Abarth. $25,265 as-tested.
Upsides: Insanely fun.
Downsides: Hard to live with every day. Atrocious resale value.
Wrap-up: I’ve reviewed a few Abarths over the last few years, and I’m uniquely qualified to continue to give my opinion because I still own my 2013 version. I’ve put around 30,000 miles on it over the last 4 years, and I’ve had an issue-free ownership experience. I tracked my gas mileage for the first 15,000 miles and never averaged better than 26 MPG on a single tank, so good luck with 32 on the highway. The only real caution I have, is that the resale is shockingly bad. Granted, I was able to negotiate a significant discount when I bought mine new, but there are low mileage used versions out there for as little as $10,000. While they may not have every small update from the last few model years (a passenger arm rest, slight face revision, digital gauge cluster) it is still effectively same car, and it’s still one worth owning, I just couldn’t imagine paying close to MSRP.

Wilson Calvert
Author: Wilson CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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I am a long-time Houstonian and am obsessed with cars, soccer, traveling, bourbon and airplanes. I write a regular car review column for The Tribune and travel articles a few times per year.