I have long said that Fiat makes a great urban vehicle. From the 500 and 124 Spider to the 500X and 500L, every single vehicle in the Fiat lineup is easy to park and maneuver in tight city spaces.
With the addition of the Abarth trim to the 124 and 500 lineups, however, they also add a punch of power and fun.
Abarth models are equipped with a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 160 horsepower in the 500 and 164 horsepower in the 124, and when you’re looking at vehicles that weigh between 2,400 and 2,500 pounds, that’s the right amount of power to add some fun to your daily commute.
To prove that point, Fiat teamed up with Skip Barber to give journalists a fast-paced one-day test at the Autobahn Country Club, offering racetrack driving with quick acceleration on the straightaways and an autocross experience to test cornering ability. As a bonus, they threw in a little skid pad activity to test our ability to control a rear-wheel-drive vehicle in a skid.
The entire day served to reinforce that these petite vehicles are fun to drive, and when you add in the Abarth suspension, throaty exhaust and additional horsepower, they’re even better.
We used the north track at Autobahn, which is a tight and technical 1.46-mile road course, and both the 124 and 500 Abarths handled the hard acceleration and braking easily. With such a petite car, it was enlightening to see how quickly the vehicles would slow down and how easily they took a corner at higher speeds.
The autocross was an even greater exercise in maneuverability with a tight slalom and a couple of hairpin turns. Both vehicles were able to get up to about 50 mph in the short straights, and the tight turning radius allowed for easy turns at aggressive speeds.
The Abarth trim is considered top-tier, and it does come with a price.
The base prices of the 124 and 500 are $24,995 and $16,245, respectively. But opting for the Abarth model brings the price tag up to $29,290 and $20,495.
However, with the Abarth moniker comes the slick scorpion badging and standard features such as signature red accents and performance bucket seats.
The Bottom Line:
My husband and I own a Volkswagen GTI, which is compact and fun to drive, but I’ve often thought that if we got a second vehicle, it would be a Fiat. I rarely have rear-seat passengers and want good fuel economy and easy parkability more than cargo space and rear-seat legroom.
Add in the Abarth trim, and you’ll still get an affordable vehicle with a lot more character – and a sexy exhaust note to boot.