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Abarth 500C Esseesse 2014 Review

We turn the spotlight on the Abarth 500 Esseesse and ask the big questions, including the most important - would you buy one?

What is it?

Fiat's tiny 500 "bambino" wearing an Abarth badge with a turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet the front bonnet that is (that's where they keep it these days). This one is the cabrio with a roll top roof/sunroof.

How much?

Deep breath. This baby will set you back $38,990 or $34,990 in non-cabrio form about the same price as a Mini cabrio. It's a lot of dosh for a little car.

What are competitors?

The aforementioned Mini, plus the Golf, Citroen DS3 or Renault Megane cabriolets maybe even the Smart fortwo cabrio.

What's under the bonnet?

The 1.4-litre four cylinder turbocharged engine kicks out 118kW of power and 201Nm of torque at 2750 revs (or 230Nm of torque in Sport mode). The engine is mated with a robotised, five-speed manual, complete with gear change paddles so it can be driven in manual mode. There is no gear shifter, just a selection of buttons to chose from which engage foward, reverse, neutral or manual/automatic mode.

How does it go?

Like a scalded cat. Appearances can be deceptive and this one will leave plenty of people wondering in its wake. The dash from 0-100km/h takes 7.4 secs and it has a top speed of 211km/h. Sits on 17 inch alloys with 205/40 rubber and the cabrio scores name brand Koni shocks as standard, with red brake calipers.

Is it economical?

Claimed fuel economy is 6.5 litres/100km, it takes 95 RON premium unleaded and has a tiny 35-litre fuel tank, perhaps befitting its role as a mainly city car (we were getting in the 7's).

Is it green?

Light weight, small engine, automated gearbox all of these things add up to a 4.5 star rating from the Government's Green Vehicle Guide (Prius gets five).

Is it safe?

Scores a full five stars in crash tests, although I'd hate to put this one to the test. Comes with seven airbags plus a full suite of driver assistance systems sadly no reverse camera or parking sensors. No reach adjust for the steering wheel either.

Is it comfortable?

No. It's small and cramped inside. The seating position is very upright and you sit on the tiny seats rather than in them making it very difficult to relax. I can't image what it would be like on a long trip? Then again it hasn't got the boot for a big holiday anyway.

What's it like to drive?

Interesting. More like a go-kart than a car. Unless you're in sport mode the gear changes can be jerky thanks to the clutch setup which by accounts is cheaper to produce but not particularly desirable.

Is it value for money?

It packs in a lot. Leather and climate air are standard along with plenty of eye candy, like a dash mounted turbo gauge but this is one strictly for Fiat diehards or those that want something completely different.

Would we buy one?

Nope. I could think of better ways to spend my money.

Fiat Abarth 500C Esseesse
Price: from $38,990 (auto)
Engine: 1.4 litre turbo 118kW/201Nm (230Nm Sports mode)
Transmission: five-speed automatic, FWD
Thirst: 6.5 L/100k

Pricing guides

Based on third party pricing data
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Range and Specs

Esseesse 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTOMATED MAN $17,500 – 24,310 2014 Abarth 500 2014 Esseesse Pricing and Specs
Esseesse 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $15,400 – 21,780 2014 Abarth 500 2014 Esseesse Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.