Fiat’s smallest model gets more standard power for 2018 as this tiny two-door drops last year’s entry-level engine in favour of the turbo motor that was formerly an extra-cost option.
That means performance ratings of 135 hp and 150 lb-ft, increases of 34 and 53, respectively, over the 2017 model’s naturally aspirated engine.
The move to an all-turbo lineup addresses one of our key complaints about this car: the old base engine lacked personality, but the sportier Abarth is a bit much for daily driving.
By the way, the Abarth uses the same 1.4L turbo engine, but tuned for 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque, impressive figures for a car this little.
Surprisingly enough given industry trends, a manual transmission remains the standard means of getting that power to the road, while a six-speed auto is an option.
Regardless of whether you choose a regular model or the Abarth, the Fiat 500 is about a different kind of performance than the Mini Cooper. That BMW-made subcompact is a better handler and, in Cooper S and JCW versions, offers more refinement in the way it puts its power down.
Other additions to this year’s list of standard kit include 16-inch alloy wheels, “performance” brakes and suspension, body-colour fascia and side skirts, fog lights, spoiler, air conditioning and a 7.0-inch touchscreen to access the 500’s Uconnect infotainment system.
Among traits carried over is this diminutive car’s charming retro styling and its tiny interior. The 500 may have a back seat, but it is only nominally a four-seater. For most purposes, you’re better off folding the rear seatbacks down to expand the also-tiny trunk.
Standard features in Pop trim include body-colour instrument panel trim, electronic vehicle information centre, front floor mats and reading lights, leather-trimmed steering wheel, air conditioning, Uconnect infotainment with 7.0-inch touchscreen, media centre with auxiliary input and two USB ports, power windows and locks, tilt steering, 50/50 split-folding rear seat, sun visors with vanity mirrors, halogen projector headlights, rear window wiper/washer, 16-inch alloy wheels, engine block heater, keyless entry and tire pressure monitoring and a tire service kit.
Move up to Lounge trim to add a 7.0-inch customizable gauge cluster display, automatic temperature control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, chrome shifter, heated and power-adjustable side mirrors in chrome housings, fog lights, panoramic glass roof, premium audio system with satellite radio, passenger assist handle, leather-faced seats and heated front seats.
Beyond its more potent engine, Abarth trim brings performance-tuned suspension and brakes with red calipers, 16-inch wheels, unique body trim and badging, performance front bucket seats with racing harness pass-through, flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminum pedal covers, cruise control and three-mode stability control system.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed