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These days, every new (N.American) 500 has the same Multi-Air Turbo engine and the usual accessory and trim differences, so I wanted to reflect on the short-lived marketing-driven sales flop that was the "FIAT 500 Sport Turbo."

What's with the name? Why did it exist? Who buys one?
It can truly be said that Accounting and Marketing departments are calling the shots these days - across the whole industry. Get the engineers to develop a scalable and compliant platform and then try to find ways to brand-engineer 48 different models out of that platform. So, with the Abarth and the Sport doing well in 2012 sales, some genius thought "Hey! What if we stuck another model between these two?" Sure, why not? That way, all those confused buyers on the fence could finally find peace.

Not a terrible idea on paper, but with the small price gap between the two, selling up from a 500T to an Abarth was pretty easy when the buyer was interested in performance. I'm not sure many buyers of the 500 Sport were actually interested in performance. They bought a sporty trim package. Nothing wrong with that. You can see where I'm going with this... As a tweener model, the 500T was a sales flop. I don't have actual production numbers, but at the moment on a popular car buying search website in the US (for the 4 model years the 500T was sold):

2013-2016 FIAT 500 Sport for sale: 143
2013-2016 FIAT 500 Abarth for sale: 113 (another 38 if you add the convertible)
2013-2016 FIAT 500 Sport Turbo for sale: 31

Does anyone believe that those 31 buyers were going to buy a MINI, until the 500T came out? I guess not. Maybe people just love their 500T so much they won't sell them. I guess not. Does any of this make the 500T a bad car? A bad used car buy? Absolutely not.

Another thing... Every now and then, someone posts on this forum to discuss the conversion of their 500T to an Abarth. Invariably, someone says "badges won't make it a real Abarth," while others say "you can but you shouldn't." Others say "whatever makes you happy." There's also a shocking number of posts from owners bragging that their Abarth has none of that crappy FIAT branding anywhere. One guy complained that he has the tiny FIAT logo etched on the window glass in his Abarth. I'm not sure exactly why the snobbery exists... But I think the FIAT marketeers would be proud of their work. Either way, it also kind of implies that the 500T owners envy the Abarth. Well, you few bold 500T owners out there are about to be vindicated...

After a long-winded intro, here's the top 10 reasons a 500T was (and is) a great choice, in no particular order:

1. It's RARE! Much more rare than the Abarth. If we wanted to blend, we wouldn't be buying a 500 would we?
2. Tuning. There are forty-eleven vendors out there with electronic tuning options that allow the 500T to put down the exact same amount of power and torque as the Abarth.
3. COLOR! Until recent years, if you wanted your Abarth in something from the visible light spectrum, you got red. That's it. Have you seen that copper "Rame" color in the daylight? It's truly beautiful. Want your Abarth in that color? Sorry.
4. Cattiva looks. Every Abarth owner wanted the blacked-out lights (standard on the 500T), but the dealer didn't have that option on the lot. Too bad.
5. 500 Sport seats. I may be in the minority here, but as a daily driver I much prefer the full leather Sport seats to the Abarth. The leather is thicker, nicely stitched, and doesn't stretch and leave an assprint when you get out. They're as retro as the car's exterior. And they're very well bolstered on the seat bottom, although the backrest could be a tighter fit.
6. Abarth brakes, control arms, front anti-sway bar, body kit (excl. rear spoiler), the engine and tranny, and most everything else mechanical are the same as the Abarth.
7. The exceptions to "everything else" from above can be added, quite easily. Ebay if you're cheap.
8. In my best James May voice: "Turbo boost gauges are for the unintelligent." But if you want one, it's easy to add.
9. Noise. As a daily driver, or highway cruiser the Abarth exhaust is noisy. Those who would argue are slowly going deaf. Let's face facts. We love it for that! But the 500T? Same snorty tone, volume at 50%. (Full disclosure: I just upgraded to the Abarth exhaust).
10. "I'm a sheep, really. Just a gentle little sheep. See my FIAT badge? Nothing to worry about here. Yep. Just a peace-loving sheep."

Notice that none of these relate to the purchase price. ...because we didn't buy the 500T because it was a poor man's Abarth. No. Surely not. Not one bit.

I hope I haven't offended everyone who reads this. I genuinely love the 500 in all flavors. I'm in Milan on business 4 or 5 times a year and I consistently rent an Abarth 595 Turismo or Competizione and drive like an idiot on some great Italian roads during free weekends. But the humble 500T (R.I.P.) needs some love in this forum. Here's mine - and it's definitely not for sale:





No Abarth badges. Because they don't make it faster. And because I'm immune to marketing.

 

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Whatever floats your boat, man, but for the most part, you are absolutely correct. It’s not faster Sport, it’s an Abarth with sensible hat.
 

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Your reasons are correct, but there is one more. Try to find a 500 of any flavor beyond the Pop, outside a population center of more than a million people. You can't sell what is not available. Occasionally a dealer 100 miles away would have a 500c or Abarth, but only once in 4 years did I see a 500T.

My friend tried to get a 500 (forget which trim) 3 years ago... finally gave up on special order. Bought a Mini.
 
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