Fiat is freshening its 500 lineup and making turbo engines standard across its entire portfolio, including the 500L and 500X with a manual transmission. (This excludes, of course, the 500e electric.)

The change means Fiat is ditching its 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine in favor of a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that adds a 34 horsepower increase to the base model 500 engine, up to 135 from 2017’s 101 hp. That increase should be welcomed by drivers. CR testers preferred the 1.4-liter turbo engine, finding the nonturbo version to be slow to accelerate.

There are three trims for the 500 coupe: Pop, Lounge, and the performance version, the Abarth.

The Abarth has a 1.4-liter turbocharged and twin-intercooled 1.4-liter turbo engine with up to 160 horsepower and 183 lb.-ft. of torque. Our testers found the Abarth engine much peppier than the base 500’s nonturbo version, but as we noted, “most sporty hatchback competitors are 1-2 seconds quicker to 60 mph.” 

2018 Fiat 500 interior
Fiat Road Tests & Data

The base engine is EPA-rated at 30 combined mpg. In our testing, the nonturbo engine achieved 33 mpg overall using regular gas, while the Abarth we tested managed only 28 mpg and required premium gas.

All three versions of the 500 come in a cabriolet version, which is sort of a convertible-light approach. The roof for the cabriolet is a powered cloth top. Fiat says the top can be opened to the rear spoiler at speeds up to 60 mph. It can be opened even farther, settling behind the rear head restraints, at speeds up to 50 mph.

Fiat says it has added other new standard features, including 16-inch aluminum wheels, a performance braking system, a rear backup camera (which becomes federally mandated safety equipment later this year), a rear spoiler, fog lamps, and a “Turbo” badge, among others.

Shoppers who buy or lease an Abarth version of the 500 get a free day at the Bob Bondurant
School of High Performance Driving. As we noted, some performance cars come with a similar perk, but none are as inexpensive as the Abarth.

Fiat will continue to offer an all-electric 500e, but it’s available only in California and Oregon. The 500e has 84 miles of driving range and an EPA-rated 112 MPGe.

Fiat says the 2018 versions should start showing up at dealerships in late spring 2018. 

2018 Fiat 500