RE: Fiat 500 Abarth: PH Used Buying Guide

RE: Fiat 500 Abarth: PH Used Buying Guide

Wednesday 10th October

Fiat 500 Abarth: PH Used Buying Guide

Abarth's take on the 500 is a pocket rocket in its purest form. Here's how to bag a good one from £5,000



Fiat's revival of the Abarth name in 2008 followed historical precedent by using the contemporary 500 as the base for a much hotter model. The resulting Abarth 500 upped the performance and dynamics of the cutesy retro city car considerably and it found favour with plenty of buyers.

When first launched, the Abarth 500 used a 135hp version of Fiat's 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine. When Sport mode was engaged, it also served up 152lb ft of torque at 3,000rpm, so the espresso-sized Italian felt quicker than its 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds. Top speed was 129mph, which isn't much to write home to mamma about, but the Abarth was much more about nimbleness than outright


The firm ride didn't please every road tester at the time and it's worth trying the car on a variety of roads to make sure you can live with it today. If you can, you'll find the Abarth is agile and still copes with most bumps well. The steering is electrically assisted and doesn't offer as much feel as a Ford Fiesta ST's, but there's a Sport button on the dash that adds some extra weight when pressing on.

As for the engine, its 135hp is enough to make the most of the five-speed manual that was standard when the car was launched. As it's turbocharged, it rewards the driver who changes up well before the red line is reached.


For those seeking more performance, Abarth offered the Esseesse kit with full warranty on cars that were converted new or up to a year old. The kit came with a remapped ECU chip and free-flow air filter to increase power to 160hp, while torque jumped to 170lb ft. This saw the 0-62mph time drop by half a second to 7.4 seconds.

A less welcome effect of the Esseesse kit was the firmer, lower suspension that made the ride too firm for most UK roads. However the 17-inch wheels and cross-drilled brakes added to the driving experience. One way to get around the ride issue is to simply go for an engine remap that takes the motor to 170hp and costs around £300 versus the original Esseesse kit's £2,500.


Fiat recognised customer demand for quicker versions of the Abarth 500, as well convertible versions of the hatch models. The 595 came in 140hp Turismo and 160hp Competizione versions, while the 695 took power to 190hp and dropped the 0-62mph dash to 5.9 seconds.

Prices for the standard Abarth 500 kick off at around £5,000 for tidy, average miles examples, while the Esseesse goes from £7,500 for well cared for cars.

Buyer's checklist

Bodywork and interior

Door handles can become loose.

Check the washer jets work properly.

Many Abarths are festooned with graphics, so make sure you can live with their looks and also check they're securely attached to the bodywork.

Interiors are hard-wearing but rear seats are cramped even for children.

Fiat's Blue&Me infotainment system would not work with iPhones in earlier cars but this can be solved with an adapter.

Check around the tailgate to see if there's any chafing to the wiring.

Engine and transmission


The official service interval is 18,000 miles but specialists recommend changing the oil at 9,000 miles to protect both the engine and turbocharger. A minor service comes in at around £120 and a major one costs around £300.

Remaps are popular and can easily take the 500 to 170hp without any stress on the engine. Further increases are possible to 190hp, but that will then require changes to the brakes and suspension to cope.

Both manual and MTA automated manual gearboxes are strong and trouble-free. Clutches are long-lasting and a new one is £200 plus fitting.

Cambelt replacement needed at five years or 75,000 miles and will cost around £250 at an independent garage.

Suspension and steering


Droplinks wear out and make a knocking noise over bumps. Replacements are cheap and easy to install either for the keen DIY owner or a mechanic.

When changing suspension components, make sure you order the correct parts as there are differences between standard, Esseesse and limited edition model versions.

Inspect the strut tops for any signs of rust.

Wheels, tyres and brakes

A set of new tyres will be around £400 for all four. Check for wear on the inner edges of the front tyres.

The Abarth is easy on brakes. New front discs are £150 for a pair and pads costs £80.

SPECIFICATION - ABARTH 500

Engine: 1,368cc inline 4-cyl T
Transmission: 5-speed man
Power(hp): 135@/5,000rpm
Torque(lb ft): 152@3,000rpm
MPG: 43.4
CO2: 155g/km
Price new: £13,600
Price now: £5,000 upwards

Author
Discussion

tim milne

Original Poster:

255 posts

169 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
Are the subs on holiday today?

pb8g09

274 posts

5 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
Looking at the interior picture on the pedal grouping, is there anywhere to put your left foot when not on the clutch?


staffs Mike

23 posts

168 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
pb8g09 said:
Looking at the interior picture on the pedal grouping, is there anywhere to put your left foot when not on the clutch?
No there is not.

nikaiyo2

1,970 posts

131 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
staffs Mike said:
pb8g09 said:
Looking at the interior picture on the pedal grouping, is there anywhere to put your left foot when not on the clutch?
No there is not.
Yes there is, there is a black plastic resty thing to the left of the clutch.

Turbobanana

1,185 posts

137 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
tim milne said:
Are the subs on holiday today?
Does seem a bit brief, doesn't it?
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berlintaxi

7,523 posts

109 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
nikaiyo2 said:
staffs Mike said:
pb8g09 said:
Looking at the interior picture on the pedal grouping, is there anywhere to put your left foot when not on the clutch?
No there is not.
Yes there is, there is a black plastic resty thing to the left of the clutch.
Indeed, but you would have had to driven one to know that, not that that ever stops people posting nonsense on here.

ToothbrushMan

1,401 posts

61 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
with the std 5 speeders......none of the issues of the Fiat c510 6 speed box either as found on punto/bravo/corsa/astra from around the same era.

i think for £5000 youre getting a heck of a lot of car for the money.

pb8g09

274 posts

5 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
berlintaxi said:
Indeed, but you would have had to driven one to know that, not that that ever stops people posting nonsense on here.
+1
I asked the question because I could see from the picture it was hard to tell. Thanks for the answer!

WCZ

6,023 posts

130 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
always had a soft spot for these but even at £5k the problem would be that I'd spend £10k on tuning and playing with them


http://www.abarth.com/abarth-695-biposto please

Edited by WCZ on Wednesday 10th October 12:28

PhantomPH

2,985 posts

161 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
pb8g09 said:
berlintaxi said:
Indeed, but you would have had to driven one to know that, not that that ever stops people posting nonsense on here.
+1
I asked the question because I could see from the picture it was hard to tell. Thanks for the answer!
Worth noting tho, that whilst there is a rest it's not the widest and the gap to the left of the clutch is hardly super-spacious. You will find that you catch the pedal a LOT until you get used to it. Particularly if (like me) you live your life in Timberlands. I used to keep catching the edge of my foot on the underside of the clutch pedal as I was lifting to change gear. Bloody annoying, but you adjust accordingly.

ETA - based purely on this (iffy) article, it would seem that anyone who paid the £2.5k for the Essesse pack, got their money out the other end. So not a bad option to have!

loudlashadjuster

3,089 posts

120 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
tim milne said:
Are the subs on holiday today?
Subs? This is PH, where we're going we don't need...subs.

stanglish

112 posts

49 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
The missus has a Fiat 500 just with the boggo NA 1.2 and I've had plenty of time in a couple of rentals too.

The problem I have with them is the utterly lifeless steering with zero feedback and the incredibly high seating position. Gearbox also had the action of a toy. Not intending to tear strips off it but these were the issues that jumped out as dealbreakers for me.

Can any owner comment on the comparison between the regular spec 500s and these Abarth models? Do they sort out any of these shortcomings or just tart up the base car with a more powerful engine? Genuinely want to know and I don't know when I'd have the chance to test drive one.

J4CKO

25,778 posts

136 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
The Fiesta ST was mentioned, anyone driven both ?

Only been in some barking mad special edition with a sequential box that was 30 grand, it was great but too full on really.

Hairymonster

350 posts

41 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
Wasn't there a limited edition Ferrari version at about £55k?

I remember a photo of one with an exposed-linkage dog-ring gearbox which was about an extra £10k or something equally daft - apparently the gearbox needed a major overhaul every 10k miles!

Nerdherder

339 posts

33 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
If anything this article is making me look up the current going rate of used twinairs.


Edited by Nerdherder on Wednesday 10th October 13:15

Kawasicki

5,639 posts

171 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
Drove one of these a couple of years ago. It felt to me that the seats were set way too high...like being perched on a bar-stool. A fiesta is a low-slung sportscar in comparison.

RemyMartin81D

4,270 posts

141 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
As the owner of an esseesse I just need to add, be aware of what your buying. In that it is beyond stiffly sprung lol. Even minor cracks make the whole car shimmy and sound absolutely awful, so large road imperfections are even worse, I'm used to it now, problem mainly coming from that I had C6 prior to this. Two very polar opposites in ride.

However I absolutely love it. It's my first car in absolutely years that I've truly bonded with to the point I'm so overly precious of it. Even rediscovered the anal detailing geek in me and re bought all the detailing gear.

Lots of similaritys to my R5 GTT which is 100% a good thing.

On the gear change front, the standard knob was an awful thing and quickly changed to the aluminium ball shifter, I cannot wax lyrical enough on how profound the difference is. Such a pleasure to change gear



Edited by RemyMartin81D on Wednesday 10th October 13:26

CivicL

153 posts

106 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
A great car to own, with much charm.

Loved the parpy noises it made. It was also surprisingly stable at high speed on the autobahn.

It doesn't 'handle' per se, the rear is utterly uninvolved with turning the car. It goes where you point it via the oversize, cheap, plasticky wheel until it runs out of grip at the front.

The missus had a 595 Competizione, which we traded in - we still talk about getting another, as it is sorely missed.

cornishboy1970

33 posts

15 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
Funny enough I am looking at one of these on Saturday for my son. Had a test drive in one of the essessessesse cars and the suspension was pretty firm and tbh I didn't notice the extra BHP over the standard car.

All being well, will pick it up next week which will involve a typical PH man buys train ticket adventure...

Shame it is a brief article as I was looking for a 'things to look for' list.

staffs Mike

23 posts

168 months

Wednesday 10th October
quotequote all
nikaiyo2 said:
Yes there is, there is a black plastic resty thing to the left of the clutch.
I drive mine everyday, you cannot call that a rest. You would need an incredibly narrow foot/shoe to rest on it and you will catch or be resting on the clutch.