After 2,500 Miles Here’s What Still Bothers Me About My Fiat Abarth
I’ve put more than 2,500 miles on my bargain Fiat 500, and it’s largely a delight. But it's not perfect.
I’ve put more than 2,500 miles on my bargain Fiat 500, and it’s largely a goddamn delight. I’ve worked out most of the kinks, the car looks, feels, and drives amazing. And yet, like every auto journalist, I find myself annoyed at some of the car’s uh, “quirks and features.” Since I’ve already spent a few blogs singing the car’s praises, I guess it’s only fair that I run down what I find annoying about this thing.
The Terrible Turning Circle
At its core, the Fiat 500 Abarth is a hotted-up city car. This means it should be good in the city; it’s short, easy to park, and ultra maneuverable, right? This car should be able to do U-turns on a dime, I mean, half of Fiat’s marketing focuses on the tiny car rolling around old-world Italian cities, with tight one-lane cobblestone roads with loads of switchbacks.
Yeah, no, the Abarth can’t do that. I’ve never driven such a small car with poor city maneuverability. The steering is heavy, and the turning radius is very, very large. A U-turn in a normal car is easily a three-point turn in an Abarth.
As a point of comparison, back in the day auto journalists docked the first-gen Mazda 6 for having a large turning circle — 38.7 feet. The Fiat 500 Abarth, has a 37.6 foot wide turning circle, despite the Abarth being two whole feet shorter.
The License Plate Lights Are Proprietary
When I purchased my Fiat 500 Abarth, both plate lights had burnt out. The car’s gauge cluster was so kind as to remind me with a notice, that’s cool, my Chevy never did that.
My hoarder-level car enthusiast roommate has nearly every bulb for most models in his garage, so I figured I’d be in the clear. All I had to do was go home, pull in the garage, and then remove the bulbs, then match them up to some suitable bulbs.
Uh-huh, nope, these plate bulbs are only used on the Fiat 500. They’re weird box LED things that are apparently a dealer-only ordeal. Luckily, my vehicle is a 2013, which means the bulbs are replaceable (at an annoying $15 per bulb). 2012 model year cars have the bulbs completely integrated into the chrome trunk bezel, so if a bulb burns out, you’ve got to replace the whole piece.
God, why. Why couldn’t Fiat use a regular incandescent automotive bulb, like everyone else?
Everyone Wants To Race Me
The Abarth’s shouty exhaust note, big white wheels, and dark tint add up to a very menacing-looking car. The car moves, too. Throw the thing in sport mode, it’ll sit right at 18 psi all day, and pull the car to more than illegal speeds much faster than you’d think.
But sometimes, I just want to go to the goddamn grocery store. I don’t want to rev the hell out of the Abarth every time I drive it, maybe I want to granny shift and save gas. Other drivers don’t seem to want to let me, though. Namely, mostly people in late-model Honda Accords, for whatever reason. Since I’ve gotten this car, I’ve been the subject of more road rage and aggressive drivers who stoplight race or don’t want to let me merge in traffic. They hear my loud exhaust, and when the light turns green, they floor it.
Listen, the Abarth only has around 160 horsepower. It’s enough to make things fun, but I am fully aware that most modern midsized sedans and crossovers can out-accelerate me. I don’t need y’all to remind me that when I’m on my way to buy salad mix and garlic bread.
Anyway, despite these flaws, I really have warmed to the car. And let’s be real, this is a pretty short list.