Driven: Abarth 500C EsseEsse, sharp and venomous!
What do get if you combine a 500C with Abarth specs, topped with a juicy ‘Assetto Corse’ kit: it is this Abarth 500C ‘EsseEsse’ (Super Sportiva). Without the special kit the Abarh only delivers 140hp; this particular version we drove recently has a whopping 160. For a small car like this truly impressive, though it has to be said the ‘Cabrio Italia’ and ’695 Tributo Ferrari’ versions are top of the bill and the fastest each delivering 180hp. So there still is something to strive for. Until that time this is our King Abarth, small on the outside but with a big heart.
It already started very promising because the local car importer gave us a Tributo Ferrari preview. This particular 500C was provided with the optional exhaust system with four tailpipes(!). The Monza Kit with the standard ‘Record Monza’ backpressurized exhaust system with regulator already delivers a pleasant sound. But the system taken directly from the expensive ‘Tributo Ferrari’ Abarth is true ear madness, what a raw sensation! The air filter is still the ‘Powered by BMC’ one. After switching the engine on, the raw rumble welcomes you. First gear, a little bit of ‘right foot’ and the sound sensation is even better. When the engine is on temperature (and conditions humid), loud bangs when changing gears quickly or lifting really brought the ‘wow’ factor. Now imagine driving in a tunnel with the roof down.This ultimate accessory surely is no waste of money. A faster 500C for the same price as a standard ’140hp’ Abarth with Competizione transmission. Do we need to say more?
From our previous experience without the Assetto Corse package, we already felt one with the cars driving dynamics. This package though adds that extra bit of fun factor, especially when it comes to cornering. It is extremely easy and above all: razor-sharp. High performance Koni shock absorbers in combination with FSD (Frequency Selective Dumping) valves guarantee maximum contact and feeling, plus a smile on your face. In the ‘EsseEsse’ you deal with the 500C MT manual gearbox. Closer gear ratio’s make sure you get the most out of the cars performance kit. The 205/40 R17 tyres with 17 inch titanium ‘ET35 Design’ are a perfect match and fit the Abarth like an Italian tailor made suit. Whilst the go-kart feeling never felt that real, we were positively surprised a two-hour journey never felt harsh or unpleasant. The seats give plenty of lateral support and are comfortable enough to bring you in one piece from A to B . Travelling in two won’t be a problem but packed with four (adult) persons is not recommendable.
Apart from that the power is more than sufficiently manageable which makes driving the Abarth anything but a nerve-racking experience. The electronic guide ‘sport mode’ offers two performance settings, although it is very tempting to leave it ‘on’. A real plus is the fact that even with the extra Assetto investment of 1,250 euro (NL price), it doesn’t neccesarily make you stop more often. Combined fuel consumption according to Abarth is 6.5L/100km, and city-use 8.4L/100lkm. We could not quite match those figures (combined 7.5L) but in this case we do not care and neither do you. The acceleration is almost a second quicker compared to the regular Abarth (0-60 in 7.4 sec instead of 8.1). There is also plenty of torque available (230Nm at 3,000 Rpm) and that makes the ‘stop & go’ character of the city desirable. Naturally it owes much to its compact size making it more easy to get around, and quick.
A cabriolet with race ambitions based on the iconic 500 reincarnation From start to finish the ‘EsseEsse’ keeps on challenging you. Many thumps up and a new positive experience later, putting this on our wishlist was a logical decision.