2012-2019 Fiat 500 Abarth | Spotlights for used cars

The Fiat 500 is a funky little urban ride. The Fiat 500 Abarth is a completely different car. It’s still full of fun and fun, but ups the ante with its turbocharged four-cylinder engine, bubbly exhaust tone, and rambunctious demeanor.

The Fiat 500 Abarth debuted in America for 2012 (along with the popular Super Bowl ad we’ll share below without further comment). It hasn’t seen many changes in seven years, and we were sad when it was pulled from the US again in 2019. Thankfully, enough was sold that it’s easy to find on the second-hand market.

Why Fiat 500 Abarth?

It’s great fun to drive. It’s not very fast, but there’s enough power to put a smile on your face. After all, 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque (automatic transmission models that go up to 157 hp and 183 lb-ft) feel solid with just over 2,500 lb-ft to move around.

Perhaps the most notable part of the Abarth’s driving experience is the lively exhaust note. Here’s how we described it back in 2019:

“The small 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine has a hum that doesn’t seem out of place in a muscle car. It only gets better when you start to cruise around. The redline produces a leather-like crack. It’s intoxicating.”

This was true at the time, and remains true to this day.

Plus, while we’ll get back to pricing later, it’s pretty cheap for a small sports car.

Which Fiat 500 Abarth to choose?

You have two main choices that you have to make. First, automatic or manual. Secondly, a fixed ceiling or sliding canvas surface. We’re suckers for clutch pedals, so we’d be hard-pressed to recommend the automatic over the shift version to yourself, but honestly the six-speed isn’t all that bad.

The roof’s size is hard to determine – it doesn’t look at all like a traditional droptop, it’s dressed in a canvas that slides back like a huge sunroof. We suggest looking at both versions and test driving them at city and highway speeds and hopefully even in varying weather conditions, before making a decision.

The model year doesn’t matter much, except that the pre-2016 versions didn’t have any kind of infotainment system at all. The small 5-inch unit of the last four years of the model doesn’t live up to modern-day standards, however.

Expect to pay less than $10,000 for an early 500 Abarth with a reasonable number of miles. Later models obviously cost more, but even in the current bloated market in use you should be able to find a nice example with mileage as low as around $20,000.

Used car listings can be helpful in finding a good deal near you. Narrow the offers by a radius around your zip code, and pay attention to the deal rating on each listing to see how the vehicle compares to others in a similar area.

What else should be taken into consideration?

The 500 Abarth’s most obvious competitor is the Mini Cooper S or John Cooper Works. Both small European hatchbacks enjoy solid power from their small, turbocharged four-cylinder engines and limited daily usability. Neither is known for its reliability, so if this is a major purchase decision, we’d suggest taking a closer look at the Honda Civic Si or perhaps the Ford Fiesta ST. The Volkswagen GTI may be the perfect hot hatchback, but it’s also bigger and more practical than the 500 Abarth.

If you’re thinking of using the Fiat 500 Abarth as more than just a toy for a second car, there are plenty of possibilities to consider. The Mazda Miata is a given, but could also score a $20,000 older Italian (including an Alfa Romeo Spider or Fiat Special 124 in original or reborn shape) or a British sports car (but be sure to save some extra dough for repair work).

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