If you want a sportier version of the Fiat 500, then your choice is the Abarth 500. We took a test drive with the Abarth 500C Competizione which is equipped with a robotised manual transmission. This kind of system always raises questions, so let’s see how it works.
Abarth 500C is powered by a 1.4-litre T-Jet petrol engine. Paired with a Competizione automatic transmission, the 4-cylinder, 1368cc, 16 valve, turbocharged engine delivers 103 kW (140 hp) at 5,500rpm and 206 Newton metres of torque at 3,000rpm. This Competizione transmission is not a traditional automatic, but a robotised manual gearbox without a clutch pedal. It is basically a 5-speed manual gearbox where the manual linkage is replaced by an actuator controlled electronically by a TCU (Transmission Control Unit).
The Competizione transmission offers auto and manual modes. In the manual mode the driver can change gears via the shift paddles on the steering wheel. In the auto mode, it works like a traditional automatic. Well, almost. The problem with the Competizione transmission are the shift times. Downshifts are quite fast but upshifts take too much time. You can feel how the acceleration stops briefly during the shift and then it starts again. It’s like you’re driving with a manual transmission and make a really lousy gear change.
Engaging the Sport mode and choosing the manual mode helps a bit, but it still isn’t very comfortable nor sporty. Even though the transmission isn’t that great, the car’s performance is surprisingly good. Pressing the Sport button on the instrument panel improves throttle response and provides better steering feel. In the Sport mode, this small car can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 8,1 seconds. The Abarth 500C also offers the TTC (Torque Transfer Control) which improves the transfer of drive torque to the wheels.
If you want your Abarth to deliver great sounds as well, then your choice is the optional Record Monza exhaust. With the Record Monza exhaust the exhaust sounds are so impressive, that you wouldn’t believe that the car is powered by a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder engine.
So what do we think? The Abarth 500C looks sexy, provides great exhaust sounds with Record Monza exhaust and goes like a hot hatch should. I would just rather have my Abarth with a traditional manual gearbox instead of this robotised manual.
- 103 kW (140 hp) / 5500rpm
- 206 Nm / 3000rpm
- 5-speed robotised manual
0-100km/h / 0-62mph
- 8.1 seconds
- 205 km/h
- 6.5 l/100km
- 151 g/km