GirlDriver, USA

GirlDriver, USA
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

How Many Boxes of Tile Can you Fit into a Fiat Abarth?

Fiat took this photo next to the barbed wire.  So urban!
I was prepared to get a huge kick out of the Fiat Abarth but not to recommend it.  I have been of the opinion that it is too small for U.S. transportation needs.  Families, no.  Outdoorsy couples, no.  Single young women, maybe.  Guys of any age and most occupations--probably not.  People in the design field who make enough money to own a car in an urban setting--yes.

They took this one too.  Graffiti baby.
I drove it for four days recently.

Because I'm a girl, I get to talk about the color or should I say the Rosso (red) paint job.  This color, I assure you, was not chosen in clinics the way color is chosen in some Midwest cities that will remain nameless.  This color has not been clipped from magazines and pasted up on a bulletin board in the design center and talked about endlessly among several designers and their bosses.  This color, and I am making this up but I believe it, was chosen by the lead designer who walked into the studio, looked through some color chips and said––gesturing flippantly with his arms––"that red, Rosso!"   That's how decisive the color is.  It's inspired.  And you get to stare at it a lot, because the dash is the same color as the exterior.

Driving the Abarth with its five speed automatic transmission mounted in the center stack, not on the floor was just a blast.   That placement of the shifter makes it very easy to handle.  At first the transmission seemed a little  jerky but once you get it's sporty groove you adjust to it --it's not seamless, it's sporty. The engine is turbocharged, a 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder that makes about 160 hp. Torque is 107 lb-ft at 2,500 rpm. It's turbocharged so you never feel "OMG it's so small I'm never going to merge."

And this one.  That has to be a Frank Ghery building.  Or at least influenced by Ghery.
The performance leather-trimmed, high-back bucket seats were nicely bolstered and quite comfortable but when I went to fold them it took a bit of yanking.  There's no push button on the front seats.  You have to pull up on a strap and you have to have that strap at the exact right angle or the seat back won't budge.

I was able to fit all my bags into the back by folding down the back seats.  When I ran out of other options it became clear that I would have to drive some wall tile down to New York City from upstate I was skeptical.  But wonder of wonders: I got six boxes of tile into the passenger side of the car.  It set off the seat belt alarm but with some jiggling (and giggling)  I was able to stop it from beeping.  And when your passenger is boxes of tile you can control the radio!

The car's an attention getter.  High fives are as numerous as insects on a windshield.  I was stopped a number of times when getting in and out of the car to talk about it.  One gentleman owned a vintage one and couldn't stop talking about it--seriously.

My Abarth cost $27,400.  It was assembled in Mexico and most of the content of the car is North American.  It has an Italian transmission so we can't attribute the cost to the exchange rate.  You pay for adorable.

The Abarth has airbags front, side and even a knee airbag.  It has an overall five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.   The Abarth is well-equipped with air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry and Fiat even touts it's one step power windows--does any car stateside have roll down windows anymore? 

Base price is $22,000 so there's about $5,600 worth of add-ons and destination charges. It is child seat ready.   There is no navigation system in the car so you can option a Tom-Tom GPS for $600. 

Overall I found the car just a fun, fun ride.  I like small cars.  I like manuals.  I love to drive them.  And this one will stand out as memorable.

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