Well, they made me a deal I couldn’t refuse. Apparently the paint scheme on my car (black with red stripe on side) is in hot demand, and so he made me a deal on an Abarth that made me burst into tears. I didn’t want to wake up with a horse’s head in my bed so I traded up and got a stellar deal. He knew I wanted an Abarth anyway but they weren’t available last year.
This little beast is a contradiction in form and function. It’s tiny, which is fine as there’ll never be anyone in it but me, occasionally my wife. So the back seats are down yielding a reasonably big space to carry things. Plenty of room for a full sized amp, two guitars and other junk for a gig. But, you fire this thing up and it’s instantly apparent what, in my youth I would have described as “glass pak mufflers”. I haven’t heard a rumble like this since I personally gutted the mufflers ’40 ford in 1960. On some level it’s beautiful, but sadly, it remains a harbinger of my mis-spent youth.
It’s fairly loud, and it gets louder when I pour the poison to it, but surprisingly well mannered at usual cruising speeds. A little more mellow than stock, but definitely not obtrusive to conversation and radio. The twin pipe exhaust song signals that this is not your grand-dads Fiat 850. This thing has a twin inter-cooled turbocharged engine with a potential of 18 psi boost (as measured by the meter on the left dash). When it hits 17.5 a little sign flashes: “your engine is going to explode now-goodbye”. The next closest is 12 psi on one of the Mini Cooper turbo models. That’s a serious hot rod engine for a conventional car sold to a mass public. But you know me; I’ve got my boot in it most of the time anyway.
So, this thing feels and handles like a Volkswagen at rational speeds, but when you stomp on it the car changes personality quickly from the lead singer of U2 to Stone Cold Steve Austin with an attitude. It’s a sensation not many casual drivers should ever feel, that the car has the ability to keep accelerating without any plateaus until the engine blows up. A distinct possibility as I don’t believe the engine has a functioning rev limiter like a Formula 1 car.At some point in the acceleration, you’re aiming, not driving it. That makes it a tricky proposition to keep this tiny car on the road at speed.
Otherwise, the appointments are nice. Full leather throughout including the steering wheel and shift knob. 5-speed manual is standard. Not really any need for a six-speed. The seats are comfortable although a little high. Headroom is plenty for a six-footer, foot room is fine, pedals spaced well. I got the “regular” radio which is fine for playing MP3s as there is n such thing as “high fidelity” in digital music (yet). 4 wheel anti-lock disc brakes, 17″ wheels. Uses regular unleaded gas, unlike the Mini Cooper. There is an option for a “TomTom” GPS that slips in and out of a holder on the dash. Not a good idea as it’s expensive, interferes with vision and the Garmin gets better reviews.
So in summary, this is a very nicely appointed LITTLE car with cool styling that acts pretty much like it looks until the gas pedal is righteously stomped. It then turns into a little rocket sled in the same tiny body and has the capability of quickly getting away from the average driver accustomed to a LITTLE car.
I give it an advised 4 or 5 scorpion badges. Be careful with this thing unless you’re experienced with performance driving. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing and it’ll bite you if you give it a chance.