I love you, Abarth, but it’s time to turn the page

Many moons ago, a friend of mine – software engineer and former* car collector – bought a Fiat 500 Abarth convertible, the Bicolore model, and one day he called and he said, “hey, you can use my Abarth for the weekend if I can use your Mazda RX-8, what do you say?” – I said yes. Mainly because I was looking for any excuse to offload my RX-8 and make it (and its fuel consumption) somebody else’s problem. Even if it was just for a couple of days.

The car was amazing. It was fast and nippy, fun to drive, comfortable, practical, and it wasn’t even thirsty. Yes, it wasn’t exactly a racer in terms of aerodynamics but who cares. The problem is this was 2012, and here we are, ten years later, and Abarth is still making ends meet by building nothing but washed-up versions of the same car.

Fiat, and consequently Abarth, have upgraded and refreshed the modern 500 a couple of times but it’s still the same project, built on the same platform that they used 15 years ago. This is the latest Abarth, and I’m sorry if I sound cynical but it’s yet another ‘limited-edition’ ‘Speciale’ model, again powered by the same 1.4 T-Jet engine. Once again, fitted with the usual aggressive body kit and large wheels. If you buy this, you’re buying the umpteenth limited-edition Abarth that’s basically the same as any other Abarth. Yeah, only 165 units will be built but what’s the point of a ‘limited-edition’ model if you keep building different versions of the same car. They’re basically just putting old wine in a new bottle.

I want Abarth to survive, and thrive. The 500 is great, don’t get me wrong, but we need more. We need something new.

What do you think? Should Abarth just stick to the 500 and its various spin-offs, or should they diversify and build more cars?

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