Ford Fiesta ST vs. Fiat 500 Abarth

2 new hot hatches, with 1 clear winner

Published: November 2013

 

Cars that are frugal, affordable, and easy to park don’t have to be boring to drive. That’s clearly the message that links the Ford Fiesta ST and the Fiat 500 Abarth subcompact hatchbacks. Both are sporty makeovers of existing models that seem to have had the in-house tuners working late into the night. And the results have given the unassuming-looking mini cars distinctively oversized personalities.

Of the two, the Fiesta ST is easily the more successful outcome. It was clearly developed by people who like driving. Even the most diehard enthusiasts at our test track were impressed with its handling, steering responsiveness, and sporty-sounding engine.

Agile handling, especially, is the Fiesta’s strong suit, complemented by steering that has immediate and near-telepathic responsiveness. But there’s much more. The 197-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine pulls strongly in just about any gear. The car’s amazing braking performance is more reminiscent of a Corvette or Porsche than a small hatchback. And unlike some sporty cars, the ST doesn’t beat you up with obnoxious noise levels; it emits an invigorating growl that’s music to an enthusiast’s ears.

Then there’s the 500 Abarth. Yes, this pint-sized two-door car oozes with its own character, announcing its presence with a raucous exhaust note that barks, snarls, and pops with every gearshift. But it can’t back up that sporty image with convincing performance or a particularly engaging driving experience.

Editor's Note:

This article appeared in the January 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine. 


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