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Fiat Abarth 500 Esseesse (2013)

by Barry Green,reviewed June 2013

If a test of a car’s ability to stand out is people taking photos as you pass by, then the Abarth 500 Esseesse (pronounced ‘S.S’.) passes with flying colours.

A racy body kit, 12-spoke 17” alloys, signature stripes and those tiny scorpion badges make a visual statement. But it is what’s under the skin that lets this sporty version of Fiat’s tiny 500 walk the talk.

 With some 44kW more power than the standard 500, and maximum torque of 230Nm is on tap at the flick of a ‘Sport’ button, straight-line performance is relatively brisk. But more impressive is the Esseesse’s handling competence and grip levels that allow maximum momentum along a twisty, serpentine back road to be maintained. Some of this is due to smart electronics, such as a Torque Transfer Control that acts much like a limited slip differential, but much can be attributed to the well-sorted suspension.

For every action there’s a reaction, however, and the same stiff springs and damping and low clearance make for a harsh ride over our rougher roads.

At $7000 more than arch-rival VW Polo GTi, the Abarth is no bargain buy, but it is way, way more visible and individual.

Inside, a thick rimmed, grippy flat bottomed steering wheel, leather bound gear knob, sports seats and aluminium trimmed pedals all add to the sporty ambiance.

Fiat Abarth 500 Esseesse 2013

For

Presence, safety inventory, nimble handling

Against

Price, harsh ride, poor turning circle

Key features

Remote central locking, immobiliser, tyre pressure monitor, hill holder, climate-control airconditioning, cloth sports seats, MP3 compatible CD player with amp and subwoofer, bluetooth, USB/auxiliary input, rear spoiler, side skirts, 17” alloys, alloy pedals

Safety

Dual front/side/curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag, anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, electronic stability control, traction control

Car Details

Vehicle make Fiat
Vehicle model Abarth 500 Esseesse
Vehicle type Sports Under $80,000
Year 2013
Price when new $34,990 MLP
Current price range $ - $
ANCAP crash rating
5 out of 5 stars
Insurance

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Technical advice

For more information about your prospective purchase, contact our Motoring Advice Service.

Engine 1.4-litre, turbo-petrol, 4-cyl
Max power 118kW @ 5500rpm
Max torque 230Nm @ 2750rpm (Sport mode)
Acceleration to 100 km/h 7.4 sec (claimed)
Economy ADR 6.5 litres/100km
Emissions rating
4 out of 5 stars

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This review is based on road testing conducted by The Road Ahead. Further vehicle reviews, in-depth comparisons and coverage of consumer motoring issues can be found in the Club's magazine. Prices listed were current at the time of review and are manufacturers list prices and do not include statutory and delivery charges. Prices can vary from time to time and dealer to dealer.