What is it? For budget car enthusiasts, the next best thing to a hot hatchback may be one that comes with a fabric top.
The Abarth version of the 500 Cabrio packs all the goodness of the tiny Fiat into a drop-top package. With ride and handling much sharper than our original tested 500, the Abarth version kicks it up a notch by delivering more four-wheel fun. We sampled a coupe version a while back and described the handling thusly: "You can toss the grippy little racer to your heart content and the fat Pirellis barely whisper a murmur as they hold that go-kart in the corners."
The little Italian sings a sweet turbocharged tune from its 160-hp, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. This power more than makes up for the just-adequate acceleration we measured with our tested 500C. A five-speed manual is the only transmission offered.
What is new or notable? Bigger horsepower, stiffer suspension, and a few "Abarth" logos set this rocket apart from your basic 500.
CR’s take: Take a relatively fun car and make it even more amusing? Bring it on. But the basic flaws of the 500—stiff ride, weird driving position, odd controls—remain. Still, the Abarth’s stirring exhaust note and cool looks might be enough to forgive a few sins.
When will it be available? Early 2013.