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2014 Fiat 500 Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Owner Pros and Cons by jconli1

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Reviewed: 2014 Fiat 500

2dr Convertible turbocharged 160hp 1.4L I4 5-speed manual FWD

Why the 2014 Fiat 500?

Powertrain performance

Test driving numerous trim levels before purchasing, I have to say that unlike most reviewers, I found the stock naturally-aspirated 1.4 to be a surprisingly gutsy little engine, and the 40mpg it returned was especially impressive. However, the full-spec Abarth is another vehicle entirely. I once owned an intercooled Volvo 245ti, as well as a Suzuki Swift GTi... the Abarth reminds me a lot of both of those cars. The turbo does have noticeable lag (especially in Sport mode), but once it spools up the torque is truly impressive. Once you calibrate your right foot, backroads become roller coasters, and highway merging and passing often don't even require a downshift from 5th. I do highly recommend getting an aftermarket throttle remap box... there are a variety that plug straight into the throttle-by-wire connector. For whatever reason, the Fiat's stock accelerator mapping requires a significant amount of pedal travel before the car responds as you think it should. These cheap little boxes change that without any effect on CPU and really improve overall drivability

Handling

Again, the stock 500 has a surprisingly capable suspension, but the Abarth (even the softer-spring cabrio) feels like another car entirely. Despite the short wheelbase, the car feels firm and planted, and communicates weight shift and impending traction limits well to the driver, even with electronic power steering. I've seen many reviewers complain of a "tippy" feeling due to the somewhat upright seating position, but that has never really led to any discomfort or alarm to me... maybe I'm used to those proportions from autocrossing my old Swift GTi years ago. The highway ride is surpsisingly good considering the short wheelbase. It does have a tendency to lock into worn-in tracks on the highway, which can lead to a bit of hydro-skittishness on very wet days if you're not careful. But wet or dry, the Abarth seems to stick well even with the stock all-seasons.

Interior styling

I picked up one of the "GQ" spec Abarths and love its more restrained interior styling... the subtle white stripes on the seats and steering wheel, the gray stitching instead of bright red, matte trim pieces instead of chrome, and the lack of "pistol grips" on the steering wheel... to me, it feels even more upmarket than the stock Abarth does, and is a much nicer feeling place to spend your commutes or road trips than the stock 500. I also love the lack of gadgetry and gimmicks in the interior. It's a driver's car, and while many want the latest technology, this car's driver-oriented simple interior is one of the things that drew me to it. (that said, the Bluetooth system works great for phone calls even with the top down)

Fuel economy

Considering it's got a big turbo that I can't help but make use of, I still seem to be averaging an odometer-confirmed 30mpg in mixed driving (high speed mountain freeways and congested city). I've had a few flatter road trips creep into 33mpg territory, and a long run of backroad-strafing dip down to 27. Overall, I'm happy with the economy considering just how fun to drive the car really is.

Depreciation

Yes, I put depreciation as a good thing... my 2014 sat on a dealer lot for about a year. It stickered for $27k, was rolled into their demo fleet, and only saw 80 miles of use there. I picked it up for... $16.5k. I still can't believe the deal I got (though much of that had to do with going out into rural Idaho to pick it up... not a hot seller out there).

Conclusion

All tolled, I love this car. There are a few squeaks and rattles, but beyond that nothing stands out to me as excessively cheap or frustrating or "bad". If I had paid sticker on this, I'd probably be a lot more critical, but if you really look around, there are so many great deals to be found on these... and for a sub-$20k fun, cheap convertible with a big turbo and decent, "commutable" gas mileage there is simply no competition out there at all.

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