Skip to content

Free Delivery For All Orders + 2 Year Warranty

    Abarth 500 vs Fiat 500: Which Hot Hatch is Right for You?

    Abarth 500 vs Fiat 500: Which Hot Hatch is Right for You?

    For small car lovers, two models often rise to the top of consideration lists - the iconic Fiat 500 and its feistier performance variant, the Abarth 500. These cute and quirky hatchbacks pack plenty of personality into a pint-sized package. But besides cosmetic resemblance, what sets them apart?

    We’ll compare the 500 and 500 Abarth across critical categories to help determine the better match for your needs and budget. Delving under the sheet metal reveals meaningful performance, capability, and practicality differences between these Italian cuties. Read on to decide if the basic 500 charm suits you best or if the added Abarth zing proves more enticing.

    Driving Experience and Performance

    While sharing familiar 500 styling cues, the Abarth 500 separates itself from its Fiat sibling thanks to a punchier turbocharged engine and more athletic chassis tuning. This translates into a much livelier driving experience better suited to backroad blasts or autocross weekends compared to the more modest Fiat 500.

    Powertrains and Fuel Economy

    All Fiat 500 models utilize a naturally aspirated 1.4L MultiAir four-cylinder engine generating 101 horsepower and 99 lb-ft torque. Though relatively pokey by today’s standards, the 500 won’t leave you stranded on highway merges or steep grades. A 5-speed manual gearbox comes standard, with a 6-speed automatic optional. Fuel mileage checks in at a respectable 31 mpg city and 40 mpg highway for manual models (27/36 automatic).

    In contrast, every Abarth 500 sports a turbocharged and inter-cooled 1.4L MultiAir four-banger cranking out 160 eager horses and 170 lb-ft torque. This muscular mill launches the 2,500-lb Abarth to 60 mph in just over 6 seconds – about 3 seconds quicker than a basic 500. Shifting comes courtesy of a standard 5-speed manual or optional automatic transmission. Turbo boost exacts a fuel economy penalty with EPA ratings of 28/34 mpg city/highway (manual), and 25/32 (automatic).

    Handling and Braking Performance

    The standard 500 handles adequately for everyday commuting but leans heavily in corners and feels less confident when driven aggressively. In comparison, Abarth models receive track-tuned suspension upgrades like stiffer springs and Bilstein performance shocks. These enhancements allow the 500 Abarth to attack curves with substantially less body roll while improving high-speed stability.

    Matching their improved cornering abilities, Abarth 500s also boast larger 4-wheel disc brakes (10.1” front, 9.4” rear) versus the base 500’s front disc/rear drum setup. Combined with stickier performance tires, the 500 Abarth posts shorter stopping distances from speed along with better fade resistance in repeated hard braking.

    Driving Feel and Sound

    Turbocharged muscle gives the 500 Abarth vastly peppier acceleration off the line and superior passing power versus a standard 500. The Abarthdriving experience leans towards a hot hatch persona with its sportier exhaust note and enriched turbo whooshes under acceleration. Rifling through the Abarth’s slick manual gearbox proves more engaging as well.

    In contrast, the subdued Fiat 500 possesses more traditional city runabout qualities focused on nimble urban maneuvering over pulse-raising performance. Gear changes feel less mechanical through its cog-like manual shifter, while engine and road noise seem more pronounced inside the 500’s cabin at speed.

    Exterior Styling and Dimensions

    Sharing the same retro-modern profile originating from the iconic 1957-1975 Cinquecento, both the 500 and 500 Abarth measure less than 12 feet stem to stern. Bespoke styling touches help the Abarth stand apart from its cute Fiat sibling.

    Fiat 500 Abarth 500
    Length – 139.6” Length – 142.4”
    Width – 64.1” Width – 64.1”
    Height – 60.1” Height – 58.7”
    Wheelbase – 90.6” Wheelbase – 90.6”
    Curb weight – 2,363 lbs Curb weight – 2,512 lbs

    Exterior Differences

    Although similarly proportioned, a closer look reveals key styling differences setting the 500 Abarth apart. All Abarths feature more aggressive front and rear bumpers with integrated fog lights, extended side sills, and dual chrome exhaust tips. Unique 17” or 18” alloy wheel designs fill the flared fenders, while Abarth badging denotes their upgraded performance status. Available exterior paint colors remain identical between models if lacking in variety.

    Interior Room and Cargo Space

    Given shared platform underpinnings, interior volume can’t help but stay virtually identical between the 500 and 500 Abarth. Front seats accommodate adults reasonably well thanks to the 500’s tall roofline, but shorter kids fit best in the tiny rear seat. The cargo room is quite meager as well, with only 9.5 cubic feet available behind the second row.

    Folding the 50/50 split rear seat expands space for bulky items. But cargo capacity still trails similarly-sized rivals from Mini or Toyota/Scion. If regularly haul passengers or bulky cargo, a larger subcompact hatchback or compact crossover likely better fits your needs.

    Interior Comfort and Convenience

    As an urban runabout, the Fiat 500 emphasizes style and simplicity over lavish furnishings or the latest high-tech gadgetry. While controls seem well-placed and materials reflect its affordable pricing, cabin ambiance won’t be confused with Audi’s. Expect hard plastics to abound.

    Seating Comfort

    Available upholstery choices vary by 500 trim, spanning basic cloth to retro-patterned leather depending on the model. Standard manual height adjustment helps dial in the driver’s seat, but telescoping steering wheel adjustment is unavailable. Given its cozy dimensions, backseat comfort best suits younger kids. Entry and exit remain relatively easy thanks to the 500’s boxy proportions, however.

    Abarth models feature unique front-performance seats with larger bolsters for increased lateral support while cornering. Alcantara faux suede seat inserts add racy flair as well on upgrade packages. Elsewhere inside remains much the same as lesser 500 trims, with rear seats best reserved for occasional short trips or parcels over people.

    Infotainment and Connectivity

    All 500s now include Fiat’s latest UConnect touchscreen interface standard, measuring either 7 or 10.1 inches depending on the trim line. Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration provides convenient smartphone connectivity. Available navigation, a six-speaker audio system, SiriusXM, HD Radio, two USB ports, and Bluetooth round-out infotainment offerings.

    Overall, the 500’s technology suite lags behind other contemporary small cars but should meet basic needs. Just don’t expect cutting-edge driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control or lane centering - you’ll need to upgrade to pricier vehicles for those.

    Reliability and Ownership Costs

    As a legacy Italian marque, Fiat endures a checkered reputation for dependability compared to Japanese or Korean brands. But the current-generation 500 and 500 Abarth post improved reliability versus earlier editions if still trailing leaders like Honda or Toyota. Their basic mechanicals and city-friendly footprint help minimize routine upkeep as well.

    Reliability Ratings

    In J.D. Power’s 2022 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, Fiat ranked near the bottom among 32 total brands - though admittedly basing scores off very low survey sample sizes. More telling perhaps, the related Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans powered by similar drivetrains traditionally rate below average in reliability surveys.

    While no definitive long-term studies exist for the latest 500/500 Abarth specifically, their simpler powertrain and chassis architecture bodes well for reduced maintenance needs versus FCA’s more complex SUVs and pickups. But given Fiat's unremarkable reputation, thorough inspection and extended warranty merits strong consideration.

    Ownership Costs

    Factoring both fuel expenses and insurance rates reveals the 500 Abarth predictably costs more to own long-term versus a standard 500. According to Edmunds’ 5-Year Cost to Own data, you’ll pay over $1,500 extra in ownership costs if opting for the feistier Abarth. The turbocharged model’s thirstier appetite and steeper insurance premiums take their toll.

    2022 Fiat 500 Ownership Costs

    Fuel (14,000 miles annually) - $5,500 (manual)

    Insurance (full coverage) - $4,647

    2022 Abarth 500 Ownership Costs

    Fuel (14,000 miles annually) - $6,650

    Insurance (full coverage) - $6,769

    Pricing and Trims

    Fiat simplified 500 variant choices for 2022, now offering just three core models priced from $16,495 - $21,745 excluding destination charges. Opting for the high-zest Abarth tacks on around $5,000 over an equivalent standard 500 before extras.

    Fiat 500 Pricing

      Trim Starting Price
    500 $16,495  
    500 Sport $19,995  
    500 Rockstar Edition $21,745  

    Abarth 500 Pricing

    Abarth | $21,490

    Given their comparable size and capabilities, key rivals like the Mini Cooper and retro-styled Toyota GR86 warrant consideration as well if stretching budgets closer to $30,000. The forthcoming all-electric 500e and 500e Abarth promise zero-emissions motoring with equivalent performance to gas models when arriving in 2024 too.

    Verdict: Fiat 500 or Abarth 500?

    In this street fight between Italian hatchback cousins, the feistier Abarth 500 certainly holds its own if lacking any decisive knockout punch overall versus the Fiat 500. Costing over $5,000 more than an equivalent base 500 before extras, that bigger commitment should factor into expectations. But with nearly 60 more horsepower from its zingy turbo-four, the 500 Abarth undoubtedly quickens pulses more with its racy exhaust tones and nipped handling.

    Just recognize that Abarth’s firmer ride and tighter interior may wear thin during daily commuting. And as family needs to evolve, both 500 variants soon feel rather tight. For sun-filled weekends without lots of cargo, however, the zesty personality infused throughout the 500 Abarth holds legitimate appeal for performance bargain hunters.

    In the end, choosing between the perky Fiat 500 or its spunkier Abarth tuning depends chiefly on driving priorities. With its cute-as-a-button styling carrying forward largely unchanged, the 2022 Fiat 500 remains a cheerful and stylish city runabout as before. If seeking more performance pepper throughout your daily drive, the Abarth spices up this Italian dish further without fully entering hot hatch territory occupied by rivals like the MINI Cooper S.

    Key Takeaways

    • Performance: With 60 extra horsepower from a punchy turbo-four engine, the Abarth 500 accelerates over 3 seconds quicker to 60 mph than a standard 500.
    • Handling: Sport-tuned suspension, bigger brakes and sticky tires allow noticeably sharper cornering grip in the 500 Abarth.
    • Styling: Aggressive Abarth styling enhancements help distinguish it from a standard 500 while preserving familiar retro cues.
    • Practicality: Tiny rear seats and limited cargo room trail larger subcompact hatchbacks in passenger/storage versatility.
    • Ownership Costs: Expect over $1,500 more in estimated fuel and insurance expenses across five years for the 500 Abarth.
    • Pricing: Well-equipped Abarth models stretch around $5,000 above rival Fiat 500 trims.

    Whether the added performance sizzle and exclusivity merit paying extra for a 2022 Abarth 500 comes down to personal taste. But for style-conscious driving enthusiasts on a budget, this feisty Italian go-kart deserves a test drive. Let’s just hope reliability proves less temperamental than their human counterparts!