I’VE just got back from the UK press launch of the utterly brilliant Abarth 500 – and what a day it’s been.
Held just down the road from our south coast HQ at Poole, Dorset, we enjoyed some glorious weather and astonishing roads as we put the car through its paces.
I teamed up with News International’s Jim Chaudry for the driving and we were so engrossed in conversation as we left the hotel we got promptly lost – within five miles of leaving too!
Luckily my trusty Garmin sat nav came to the rescue and we headed for the Gurston Down Hill Climb track where we got to push the 1.4-litre turbo-charged pocket rockets through their paces.
On the slimy country roads the Abarth 500 really was impressive. The 130bhp unit is a gutsy one and sounds brilliant when you stretch its legs.
It’s not a car you’d want to drive every day though – things can get a little bouncy and tiring thanks to the hard sports suspension. But it’s this that makes the drive so involving too; goading you into flinging the feisty city car through the bends.
We arrived at the hill climb a little early which was handy as we were first out onto the closed track. The 500 really impressed here with bags of grip and punch out of the corners.
We were shown the climb by one of the professional drivers in an Abarth 500 Essesse model – this has 160bhp and bags more torque.
You can see the video of our climb below and the second is the descent, which was even more scary than going up.
I’ll reserve judgement on the car for my road test which will appear in issue 13 of Car Dealer, but suffice to say I was suitably impressed!