2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio
2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio
2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Lesley Wimbush

It was a stereotypical Saturday night stoplight tableau, as played out in small towns everywhere. A black Chevy truck, DC logo emblazoned across the rear window, twin Magnaflow pipes amplifying the dull thump of a bone-stock V8 stops. The window lowers, and a white-brimmed cap topping a peach-fuzz lantern jaw appears.

“Your car is sooo gay”.

Loud guffaws ensue following this dazzling display of wit, and I’m left mulling it over as the Chevy tears off, bellowing like a calving heifer.

“Gay,” they said.

Had it been worth the effort, the Fiat 500c Abarth I was driving could easily have trounced that bloated Chevy in just about any area but towing. And it sure as hell sounded a lot better.

Did they mean ‘fabulous’? The Abarth could certainly pull that off, with its saucy little face, bordello red seats and snap-crackle-pop exhaust note.

Or maybe it was meant in the traditional sense, because the wee Fiat is certainly one happy looking little runabout.

But this being a hockey town, I’m afraid they weren’t really complimenting my jaunty little Cabrio. It’s more likely they were casting aspersions on its masculinity. Ludicrous when you consider the number of Italians – those hairy-chested paragons of virility – coursing around the cobbled streets of Milano in original Cinquecentos.

Or that some of my gay friends could probably drop-kick that pickup truck Cro-magnon into next week. (“See you next Tuesdaaaaaay!”)

This particular Fiat packs a fair dose of testosterone in its turbocharged and twin-intercooled 1.4L four-cylinder engine, and boasts wicked scorpion badges on its flat little posterior. Riding 1.5 cm lower than the standard 500, the Abarth 500c sports some pretty aggressive 17-inch multi-spoke wheels in gunmetal grey – which show off the bright red brake callipers rather nicely. Koni shocks and more substantial springs ensure enough stiffness to dispel any performance anxiety for this bad little boy.

A Google search of 2013’s top gay cars turned up everything from Lamborghinis (evidently the compensation tool for middle-aged men of every orientation) to Audi’s luscious A7 (of course), to the Ford Focus… and not a single Fiat Abarth Cabrio.

So obviously, the tiny Italian isn’t a favoured choice among the gay set.

But what do I know? As a straight woman (albeit whose femininity is somewhat challenged) I admit my car ‘gaydar’ could be a bit rusty.

I decided an expert opinion was called for.

Ms. Madge Enthat and Miss Divalicious, popular local nightclub and charity gala performers, generously agreed to take time out of their busy schedules to spend a little time with the wee Fiat.

“Oh faboo!” was their reaction to the idea, if I recall.

2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio
2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio. Click image to enlarge

And just to establish some auto credibility for you skeptics; Madge’s brother runs a very successful racing team in North Carolina. Coolly appraising the Fiat with a toss of her head, she quickly rhymed off its performance specs without batting an eyelash.

Pronouncing my “little hot rod” cute, the girls broke into peals of laughter at the Fiat’s tiny trunk. “Oh honey” said Madge. “That wouldn’t even hold my makeup.”

At 152 L, the Abarth 500c’s boot is indeed miniscule. It’s compromised even more by the Beats by Dr. Dre subwoofer. Flipping the rear seats down does increase cargo space to a maximum of 664 L, but it’s a fiddly process and the resultant space is hard to access.

As for passenger room, the 500C is a perfect fit for me and one passenger. The deep seats are supportive and there’s plenty of headroom. Forget long road trips with rear passengers though, unless you don’t like them very much.

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