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Author Topic: First few weks in a 500C  (Read 2278 times)

Offline 137699

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First few weks in a 500C
« on: May 30, 2017, 10:50:05 am »
We picked up our 500C Abarth a couple of weeks ago and I thought I'd post up our initial impressions.

It's a 2014 model which had 28,000 miles on the clock though we have already put on nearly 2000!

A bit of background...

The missus has for the last 6 years or so had a number of Smart ForTwo's. She had the last one 4 years and it was the Brabus model which meant it was reasonably quick, looked & sounded the part and was pretty good fun for what it was. It was however getting a little long in the tooth being a 2005 model with 120,000 miles on the clock and starting to give problems with some regularity.

So for the last few months we have been umming and arring about replacing it. She was very attached to her little smart and a number of times said that though she'd like to replace it, there was nothing on the market which really "floated her boat". She mulled over a Vauxhall Adam and also the Renault Twingo but was not sold on either.

A few weeks went by when one day her Smart wouldnt' start. We took it to the garage who worked out that a new starter motor was needed (an expensive job on one of those) and also the timing chain was slack and the engine needed a rebuild. So this brought about the need for a replacement. She felt she'd had enough years with a smart and was time for a change - I said that being all well and good but there was nothing else that she wanted... except it turned out there was - without any hesitation she replied "Fiat 500 Abarth".

So this started the search.... she is vegetarian and won't have leather interiors. She also carries a back injury so she needs an Auto.

Finding a 500 Abarth with MTA gearbox and fabric/alcantara interior, within our budget of approx. £10-12k was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Every one we found for sale had literally been sold a few days before. So in demand is this spec!

But we got lucky - we found a 2014 Competizione with alcantara and MTA at Thames Abarth in Slough and got up there the next day to go and test drive it. We also noted that they had a 500 Abarth with fabric and MTA also in stock. We *thought* we wanted Competizione spec and we *thought* we wanted a fixed roof model. Both the cars in question were convertibles but we thought - hey - a good opportunity to try both cars for suitability and then we could decide whether we wanted soft top or not later.

Test Drives

We took out the 500 first. After a few attempts at adjusting the drivers seat mrs137699 found it very comfortable - much less jarring than her Smart. The driving experience was mostly good, but the standard 140hp was leaving us only "luke warm" even in sport mode. Though clearly quicker than her smart, it just didn't feel savage enough and though the engine sounded lovely when you're stood outside the car, you can barely hear it inside.

We were not overly impressed with the 16" gunmetal grey alloys either.

The convertible roof won her over though - maybe good luck it was a nice day we took it out - but the wind in the hair experience was a done deal there & then!

Afterwards, we took out the Competizione.
On first appraisal we were loving the 17" petal alloys. And on starting the car we were immediately won over by the exhaust note, the acceleration but equally it was quickly apparent there were two major drawbacks... the suspension - or rather lack of. I think the springs were replaced with bricks at the factory. Though I could manage it, it was clear for a lady with a back injury it wasn't going to work. And then there was the Sabalt seats - they look lovely but my god are they uncomfortable - and quickly. The lack of lumber support adjustment was a big "no" for both of us. It felt as though someone was pushing in the centre of my back all the time.

So the competizione was ruled out. I would probably have chosen it if it was for me and occasional weekend "toy" use,  but as an everyday driver for mrs137699, it was a non-starter.

So back to the standard car - it was enough of a step up from her smart that, even without the noise & speed, it was ticking enough of the boxes. A short while later the deal was done and after the dealer had fitted some brand new carpet mats and black side stripes, we collected and parted with £11600 of our hard earned.

First few weeks Impressions

So as I said, we have done about 2000 miles in it now. But we immediately felt the need to set about some of the compromises we made in going for the standard model.

Firstly the power - something had to be done!

Tune4Performance in Watford is a company we know very well as they're located at a smart specialist we have been using for years (S2Smarts). It turns out that they're also directly opposite Pro Alfa and they do all the maps and dyno facilities for Pro Alfa. So I spoke to Tony and he "did me a deal" and literally 1 hour after picking up the car from Thames Abarth, the 500 was in Tony's workshop and having it's 140 horses replaced with 170+ horses. And the difference was like night and day. I have also added the BMC panel filter to help it breath more easily which smoothed out the power delivery curve.

The performance of the Competizione coupled with the comfortable seats & suspension of the 500. A match made in heaven.
It does torque-steer a bit and I guess I can understand why the competizione has firmer suspension to keep that power under control. I also just wish this thing was RWD - I'm very big on RWD cars and FWD just seems a bit too pointy and ragged to me, but it certainly is squirty-quick and great fun.

But this said, the noise (or lack of) was still irking us. Having to watch the rev counter to know when to upshift is alien to us. All our other cars are paddleshift also and you know when to change up by listening to the engine alone. So after a bit of searching I managed to locate a Stainless Steel Record Monza exhaust - used but in excellent condition for a bargain price of £320. A further £35 paid to the local fast-fit place this morning and my god that's made it sound a whole lot better! Mrs137699 came back from her drive in it with a big smile on her face! Just a shame the tailpipes don't look quite as nice as the standard system but hey, small price to pay!

Other mods

Done a few other small mods like hardwiring in the dash cam, hardwiring in a USB cable for our iPhone, fitting a Brodit A-pillar mount to allow us to use the phone as a NAV, fitted some black wing mirror covers, fitted some Abarth sill scuff protectors, and have also popped some "595-style" 500 side badges on it.

I'm about to order some Abarth stickers for the dash now too.

Which just leaves us those 16" gunmetal wheels to sort out. I have located a set of 17" petals which look to be near-mint. Hope to collect those next week after which we will keep the 16's but have them re-shod in winter rubber ready for the colder months.

Longer term,  would really like to get the cluster changed to the TFT version,  Xenon headlamps fitted, changing the DRLs to LED bulbs and get the Interscope speakers & amp fitted (may have to just settle for a small under-seat sub). These all seem to be fairly big/difficult/expensive jobs so not sure how far we'll get along this road - no doubt will get to know Pro Alfa or one or two of the other Abarth specialist well over the coming years.

Fun times ahead!

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    Offline 124Abarthreplica

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    Re: First few weks in a 500C
    « Reply #1 on: May 30, 2017, 12:21:12 pm »


    Fun times ahead!


    Indeed!!!

    Thank you for the review, nice...

    Offline Paul_595

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    Re: First few weks in a 500C
    « Reply #2 on: June 26, 2017, 05:23:14 pm »
    We picked up our 500C Abarth a couple of weeks ago and I thought I'd post up our initial impressions.

    It's a 2014 model which had 28,000 miles on the clock though we have already put on nearly 2000!

    A bit of background...

    The missus has for the last 6 years or so had a number of Smart ForTwo's. She had the last one 4 years and it was the Brabus model which meant it was reasonably quick, looked & sounded the part and was pretty good fun for what it was. It was however getting a little long in the tooth being a 2005 model with 120,000 miles on the clock and starting to give problems with some regularity.

    So for the last few months we have been umming and arring about replacing it. She was very attached to her little smart and a number of times said that though she'd like to replace it, there was nothing on the market which really "floated her boat". She mulled over a Vauxhall Adam and also the Renault Twingo but was not sold on either.

    A few weeks went by when one day her Smart wouldnt' start. We took it to the garage who worked out that a new starter motor was needed (an expensive job on one of those) and also the timing chain was slack and the engine needed a rebuild. So this brought about the need for a replacement. She felt she'd had enough years with a smart and was time for a change - I said that being all well and good but there was nothing else that she wanted... except it turned out there was - without any hesitation she replied "Fiat 500 Abarth".

    So this started the search.... she is vegetarian and won't have leather interiors. She also carries a back injury so she needs an Auto.

    Finding a 500 Abarth with MTA gearbox and fabric/alcantara interior, within our budget of approx. £10-12k was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

    Every one we found for sale had literally been sold a few days before. So in demand is this spec!

    But we got lucky - we found a 2014 Competizione with alcantara and MTA at Thames Abarth in Slough and got up there the next day to go and test drive it. We also noted that they had a 500 Abarth with fabric and MTA also in stock. We *thought* we wanted Competizione spec and we *thought* we wanted a fixed roof model. Both the cars in question were convertibles but we thought - hey - a good opportunity to try both cars for suitability and then we could decide whether we wanted soft top or not later.

    Test Drives

    We took out the 500 first. After a few attempts at adjusting the drivers seat mrs137699 found it very comfortable - much less jarring than her Smart. The driving experience was mostly good, but the standard 140hp was leaving us only "luke warm" even in sport mode. Though clearly quicker than her smart, it just didn't feel savage enough and though the engine sounded lovely when you're stood outside the car, you can barely hear it inside.

    We were not overly impressed with the 16" gunmetal grey alloys either.

    The convertible roof won her over though - maybe good luck it was a nice day we took it out - but the wind in the hair experience was a done deal there & then!

    Afterwards, we took out the Competizione.
    On first appraisal we were loving the 17" petal alloys. And on starting the car we were immediately won over by the exhaust note, the acceleration but equally it was quickly apparent there were two major drawbacks... the suspension - or rather lack of. I think the springs were replaced with bricks at the factory. Though I could manage it, it was clear for a lady with a back injury it wasn't going to work. And then there was the Sabalt seats - they look lovely but my god are they uncomfortable - and quickly. The lack of lumber support adjustment was a big "no" for both of us. It felt as though someone was pushing in the centre of my back all the time.

    So the competizione was ruled out. I would probably have chosen it if it was for me and occasional weekend "toy" use,  but as an everyday driver for mrs137699, it was a non-starter.

    So back to the standard car - it was enough of a step up from her smart that, even without the noise & speed, it was ticking enough of the boxes. A short while later the deal was done and after the dealer had fitted some brand new carpet mats and black side stripes, we collected and parted with £11600 of our hard earned.

    First few weeks Impressions

    So as I said, we have done about 2000 miles in it now. But we immediately felt the need to set about some of the compromises we made in going for the standard model.

    Firstly the power - something had to be done!

    Tune4Performance in Watford is a company we know very well as they're located at a smart specialist we have been using for years (S2Smarts). It turns out that they're also directly opposite Pro Alfa and they do all the maps and dyno facilities for Pro Alfa. So I spoke to Tony and he "did me a deal" and literally 1 hour after picking up the car from Thames Abarth, the 500 was in Tony's workshop and having it's 140 horses replaced with 170+ horses. And the difference was like night and day. I have also added the BMC panel filter to help it breath more easily which smoothed out the power delivery curve.

    The performance of the Competizione coupled with the comfortable seats & suspension of the 500. A match made in heaven.
    It does torque-steer a bit and I guess I can understand why the competizione has firmer suspension to keep that power under control. I also just wish this thing was RWD - I'm very big on RWD cars and FWD just seems a bit too pointy and ragged to me, but it certainly is squirty-quick and great fun.

    But this said, the noise (or lack of) was still irking us. Having to watch the rev counter to know when to upshift is alien to us. All our other cars are paddleshift also and you know when to change up by listening to the engine alone. So after a bit of searching I managed to locate a Stainless Steel Record Monza exhaust - used but in excellent condition for a bargain price of £320. A further £35 paid to the local fast-fit place this morning and my god that's made it sound a whole lot better! Mrs137699 came back from her drive in it with a big smile on her face! Just a shame the tailpipes don't look quite as nice as the standard system but hey, small price to pay!

    Other mods

    Done a few other small mods like hardwiring in the dash cam, hardwiring in a USB cable for our iPhone, fitting a Brodit A-pillar mount to allow us to use the phone as a NAV, fitted some black wing mirror covers, fitted some Abarth sill scuff protectors, and have also popped some "595-style" 500 side badges on it.

    I'm about to order some Abarth stickers for the dash now too.

    Which just leaves us those 16" gunmetal wheels to sort out. I have located a set of 17" petals which look to be near-mint. Hope to collect those next week after which we will keep the 16's but have them re-shod in winter rubber ready for the colder months.

    Longer term,  would really like to get the cluster changed to the TFT version,  Xenon headlamps fitted, changing the DRLs to LED bulbs and get the Interscope speakers & amp fitted (may have to just settle for a small under-seat sub). These all seem to be fairly big/difficult/expensive jobs so not sure how far we'll get along this road - no doubt will get to know Pro Alfa or one or two of the other Abarth specialist well over the coming years.

    Fun times ahead!
    Just wondering, did you wire your dash cam straight into the interior fuse box (piggy back the ignition fuse) ?

    Offline AusAbarth

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    Re: First few weks in a 500C
    « Reply #3 on: June 27, 2017, 03:28:37 am »
    Great review and back story

    One thing - going from 16" to 17" will stiffen up the ride.  May need to keep that in mind
    So Loving Ruby

    Offline PORTHOS

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    Re: First few weks in a 500C
    « Reply #4 on: June 27, 2017, 09:22:43 am »
    Lovely write up.

    The Monza could do with a single pipe modification to make it look better, It have been done before. Tempted myself!
    Just keep the spring/flap greased up with some high temp spray grease every few weeks and it will last a long time.

    Pics please when you can :)

    Offline 137699

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    Re: First few weks in a 500C
    « Reply #5 on: June 27, 2017, 06:47:54 pm »
    The phone cable & dash cam are plugged into the USB & 12v ports in the centre console but I drilled a small hole, bought a 3m USB to lightning cable and ran it in behind the dashboard, up the A pillar to the brodit mount I fitted there, and the dash cam wire goes the other way to the passenger A pillar. So not technically "hard wired" per-se, but certainly "hard-routed".



    The Monza is on and sounding lovely. The flap is still working at the moment - am toying with wiring it open but very undecided on that v/s regular lubricating.

    The 17" wheels are also on and looking lovely.

    I'll get some photos sorted!


    Offline 137699

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    Re: First few weks in a 500C
    « Reply #6 on: June 27, 2017, 07:02:15 pm »
    Quick photo after we got it home:



    Some photos as it is now:







    Offline Paul_595

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    Re: First few weks in a 500C
    « Reply #7 on: June 28, 2017, 04:32:52 pm »
    The phone cable & dash cam are plugged into the USB & 12v ports in the centre console but I drilled a small hole, bought a 3m USB to lightning cable and ran it in behind the dashboard, up the A pillar to the brodit mount I fitted there, and the dash cam wire goes the other way to the passenger A pillar. So not technically "hard wired" per-se, but certainly "hard-routed".



    The Monza is on and sounding lovely. The flap is still working at the moment - am toying with wiring it open but very undecided on that v/s regular lubricating.

    The 17" wheels are also on and looking lovely.

    I'll get some photos sorted!
    Thanks I think I'm going to wire it into the internal fuse box when I get some time.

    Offline GTMartin

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    Re: First few weks in a 500C
    « Reply #8 on: June 29, 2017, 09:54:15 pm »
    Love the black and white theme, extended to the phone  :thumb:

    Offline 137699

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    Re: First few weks in a 500C
    « Reply #9 on: June 29, 2017, 11:13:29 pm »
    Love the black and white theme, extended to the phone  :thumb:

    And my sunglasses. Black frames with white on the arms.

    To be fair I would have had red on it (stripes, wing mirrors, wheel centres etc.) but my missus was adamant about keeping it monochromatic and she was right.

    I still think we should change the chrome for the matte grille, door handles and tailgate flash but she likes her chrome and won't agree to this. Not convinced she's right about that but hey it's her car....

    Offline GTMartin

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    Re: First few weks in a 500C
    « Reply #10 on: June 30, 2017, 08:28:38 pm »
    Quote
    Not convinced she's right about that but hey it's her car....

    We had the same dilemma and ended up with two :whistle:

     

    hungry