I’ve been looking at an Abarth for the last few months as a new DD. I stopped by the local Fiat dealership the other morning to finally put my butt in the seat. The Abarth in question was a 2015 Red 5 Speed with most of the bells and whistles and stickered for around $27K.
I took it for a quick drive and being a dealer, they wouldn’t let me leave without trying to make a deal. I didn’t really intend to buy that day, but I let them entertain me. Anyways, they offered a straight trade for my 2012 2-door Rubicon with 41K miles. I had been thinking of getting into a cheaper jeep for a while since the JK will probably take a plunge in resale when the new body comes out. They gave me the Abarth until the end of the day to think it over. It had about 40 miles when I got it and 140 by the end of the day.
The extended test drive was nice. The Abarth was a cool little car. In sport mode it was like an angry hamster. The engine revved up and made a really nice noise.. The little 1.4 Turbo has no muffler; only a cat.. It sounds like a mini F1 car. The turbo made the car pretty fun to drive. And, overall it would make a decent little DD...
The interior bits were pretty chintzy, even more so that what the JK has to offer. The back seats would work okay for kids or adults in a pinch, but otherwise, not all that useful. The 5 speed was good. It shifted smoothly and the engine didn’t have a lot of turbo lag. In ECO mode (whatever the standard non sport mode is called) the Abarth didn’t offer much torque, though and kind of had the same driving dynamics as a rental car (albeit with a much better exhaust note).
I have an older e36 M3 which is a lot faster than the Abarth, more practical, more analog and has more character. It checks a lot of the same boxes as the Abarth.
At the end of the day, the Fiat was no replacement for the JK. The Jeep is bought and paid for and has a ton of money into it, not to mention blood, sweat and tears. I bought the Jeep new and have always thought that it would be the one vehicle that I would keep for a really long time. It has some pretty unique modifications (the stretch and rear suspension setup) that make it a really stand out. I am biased because its mine, but I still think its one of the better looking more simplistic 2 door JKs out there. I guess I had a momentary lapse in judgement, but after driving around the little angry hamster, my loyalty is still with JK.