The Fiat 500 Abarth Automatic has proven to be a much better ride than its manual transmission counterpart, which has been reported to have a sticky clutch that facilitates sloppy shifts in comparison to other manual minis in its class. Fortunately, it only costs about £1000 to upgrade to the 6-speed automatic version, which seems to be a perfect fit for the small but powerful 1.4 litre turbo.
Photo by FCA: Corporate
In addition to throwing in an Aisin automatic transmission, Fiat has made a few other key adjustments to the 500 Abarth Automatic, including dropping down to 157 horsepower. However, to make up for this the torque has been raised up to 183 foot-pounds. The additional torque peaks at about 100 RPMs lower than the manual version, making the engine run a lot smoother in the pre-3000 RPM range, especially in comparison to other 1.4 litre turbos, like the Dodge Dart for example.
Noticeable Differences in Acceleration and Handling
All of these changes add up to some tangible results, allowing the automatic 500 Abarth to go from zero to sixty MPH in only 6.9 seconds, which is a slight improvement over the manual edition’s 0-60 time of 7.3 seconds. It is also in line with the acceleration you’d expect to see in Abarth sport cars.
Just like the manual edition, the 500 Abarth Automatic comes with huge tires and wheels for such a tiny car, as well as oversized brakes and specially tuned dampers and roll bars. This car handles exceptionally well thanks to its electronically supported steering mechanism, which provides excellent tactile feedback through the vehicle’s highly grippable leather-covered steering wheel.
A Smooth Ride and Fast Stopping Capabilities
The 500 Abarth Automatic also grips the pavement very well, with only about 90 inches between the rear and front axles. However, we should note that this little beast will bounce a bit when you go over expansion strips, patches of frost, or other slight bumps in the road, so be sure to keep your drink snuggled tightly in the cup holder if you plan on taking the vehicle up to speed on the motorway.
As far as stopping ability is concerned, the 500 Abarth Automatic can come to a complete stop from 70 MPH in only about 170 feet, which is comparable to the 167-foot stop that the 2013 version of the Abarth 500 boasted. Despite the relatively massive tires, lightweight roof, and somewhat stiff suspension system, the Abarth 500 Automatic gives a smooth ride and doesn’t feel structurally weak or shaky.
Unconventional Shapely Interior with a Spacious Front
As far as the interior goes, expect to take your time becoming acquainted with the locations of the switches and buttons, especially if you’re used to driving a Dodge or Toyota. This little baby can only be so spacious with its obvious size constraints, but while the rear seats are a tight squeeze, the front seats actually offer a surprising amount of leg room and comfort.
Of course, the automatic version doesn’t have a clutch pedal, so that frees up even more leg room. Unfortunately, the steering column doesn’t have a telescopic feature, so if you have long legs and need to set your seat further back from the pedals, you may find yourself reaching forward for the wheel a bit more than you’d prefer.
With all of that said, overall the Fiat 500 Abarth Automatic does its job well as an exotic mini that packs a surprisingly powerful punch for a 1.4 litre turbo.