2017 Fiat Lounge and Abarth Cabrio, Bringing Smiles Wherever They Go

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 | 10:59 PM

2017fiat500arbathandloungeHave you ever seen a dog, cat or baby that just made you smile? The 2017 Fiat Lounge and Abarth Cabrio have the same effect. They are just so cute and peppy that you can’t help but grin. For 2017, the 500 reduces its trim levels to three and the six-speaker Alpine audio and driver info display are now among the standards on all trims.

Fiat Abarth Dash

Fiat Abarth Dash

When you live in a city like Los Angeles, space is as a premium. parking space, driving space, and turning space are all precious commodities. The Fiat 500C and Abarth need little space to park and are highly maneuverable in tight spaces and they are as cute as a button.

Offered in three trim levels: Pop, Lounge and Abarth, the Fiat 500 is available as a hatchback or convertible. The review will focus on the Lounge Hatch and Abarth Convertible.

The Lounge Hatchback comes loaded with chrome exterior trim, foglights, a fixed glass roof, rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic climate control, heated front seats, leather upholstery and satellite radio. This is in addition to the 15-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors,¬†keyless locking/unlocking, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 7-inch color driver information display, 50/50-split folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-only leather-wrapped steering wheel, and Fiat Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment interface with a 5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice controls and a six-speaker Alpine audio system with an auxiliary audio input and two USB ports.

The Abarth Cabrio ups the ante with foglights and parking sensors from the Lounge and adds a turbocharged engine, 16-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, sportier suspension tuning, upgraded brakes with red-painted calipers, a performance exhaust system, distinctive exterior and interior styling tweaks, premium cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a sport steering wheel and front floor mats.

The Lounge sports a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 101 horses and 98 pound-feet of torque. It comes equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. While the performance-driven Abarth gets a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that delivers 160 horses and 170 pound-feet of torque. It is paired with a five-speed manual transmission that is a snap to operate.

2017 Fiat Lounge interior

2017 Fiat Lounge interior

The Lounge gets 27/city, 33/highway, and 29/combined mpg and the peppier Abarth gets 28/city, 33/highway, and 30/combined mpg.

Inside the 500 lacks direction. The paint color outside continues to the interior but there are a lot of hard plastic surfaces. The control layout takes a bit of getting used to as it is not logically laid out, the 5-inch infotainment screen is small but very user-friendly.

Up front there is plenty of room for two adults to get comfy, but save the back seat for people you don’t like or very small children. Cargo space is roomy for a car this size; 9.5 cubic feet with the back seats up and 30.2 cubic feet with them down, not too shabby.

Since I drove both the 500 Lounge and the 500C Abarth I had completely different driving experiences. The 500 Lounge was a bit pokey of the dime, but when it got to speed it performed very well. The Abarth, however, is a different story. It’s turbocharged engine delivered when the accelerator was depressed and it zoomed through the hills in the Santa Maria wine country we visited. It was a joy to drive with the top down and tooling around the windy roads.

If you are looking for something small, cute, and fun to drive, give the Fiat Lounge and FiatC Abarth a test drive.