2012 Fiat 500 Abarth
We’ve spent quite a bit of time in the tiny little Fiat 500, both in coupe and convertible form. And have found that if you can handle the ultra-cute looks, the 500 offers a ton of fun for the money. Well, if you’re looking for even more fun for not a lot more money, this Fiat 500 Abarth may just be the ticket. So let’s punch it and find out!
Here at MotorWeek, we’re all about getting the best performance bang for our buck, and the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth embodies that sentiment in spades. For starters, this “small, but wicked” Fiat gets a huge boost in power. Under the hood is a thoroughly beefed up version of the MultiAir 1.4-liter I4 found in the standard 500. But, here turbo boost output by 59 horsepower to 160; that’s 114 ponies per liter! Even more impressive, torque nearly doubles to 170 pound feet.
The Abarth name may be new to most, but the company has a 60 year tradition of pumping performance out of Italian ride. Now as Fiat’s inhouse tuner, Abarth has done a lot more than just slap on a turbo and call it a day. The 500 Abarth is a total transformation. The suspension has been thoroughly tweaked with new Koni Frequency Selective Damping shocks, stiffer springs, and a solid rear stabilizer bar and all told, sits half an inch lower.
Just punch the Sport button for maximum engine output, quicker throttle response, and more steering feel, and you’re ready to blast through the corners. Under-steer has been almost eliminated, turn-in is insanely quick, and the car flat out sticks. More fun? Definitely! Faster? Well, let’s see. Fast is always a relative term, and 0-60 time of 7.7-seconds is not exactly supercar territory, but it is certainly much quicker than previous 500’s that we’ve tested, almost 2-seconds faster, actually.
The quarter mile is obviously quicker as well, at 15.8-seconds and 89 miles per hour. Off the line, the Abarth puts the power down fairly effectively with no torque steer. First and second gears pass quickly, but third is a real workhorse, taking you through most of the ¼ mille. A Ferrari it’s not, but somehow it’s almost just as thrilling. And the sound is great, even if it’s not from a V-12.
Transmission is 5-speed manual only. It needs a 6th gear! Still, the upgraded unit worked flawlessly throughout our testing. Stopping is also improved, bringing our Abarth to a halt 2-feet sooner than a 500 Sport at 120-feet from 60.
We all know that Italians like to do things with style, and the Abarth certainly gets a runway worthy makeover, but rest assured there’s function to go along with that form. Starting with a 500 Sport, the Abarth gets a more vertical front fascia, to make more room in the engine bay for turbo plumbing, and to allow room for larger air intakes. Down the sides are extended skirts, and on our test car, painted aluminum 17-inch wheels which replace the standard 16’s. In back, there’s a re-designed fascia, with black lower diffuser and double dual-tipped exhaust; and of course a big rear spoiler. And if all of that weren’t enough, there are Abarth scorpion shields on just about every body panel, though the red mirror caps and body side stripes are optional.
We already loved the purposeful interior design of this modern Cinquecento, and now there’s even more amore, with added Abarth elements like a nice thick flat-bottom steering wheel, black leather with red stitching on the gauge hood and shifter, aluminum pedal covers, and body hugging performance seats. Our car had the optional Rosso Nero leather. We’re still not fans of the concentric gauge array, or the dash top TomTom nav, but have no qualms at all about the new turbo boost gauge. While much more comfortable for two than four, the 500 remains surprisingly practical with its 9.5 cubic-feet of trunk space expanding to 26.8 with rear seats folded.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 28-City and 34-Highway; expect 31 miles-per-gallon of Premium in everyday driving. The Energy Impact Score is quite good at 10.6-barrels of oil consumed per year with annual CO2 emissions of 4.7-tons. As for pricing, the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth retails for $22,700; that’s about 5-grand over a 500 Sport, but it’s money well spent, as you are definitely getting Filet performance on a PBJ budget which is exactly the way we like it here at MotorWeek. The Abarth is the most fun we’ve had in a car that costs under $25,000, in some time. So, buy two, they’re small!
- Engine: MultiAir 1.4-liter I4
- Horsepower: 160
- Torque: 170 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 15.8 seconds @ 89 mph
- EPA: 28 mpg city/ 34 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 10.6 barrels oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 4.7 tons/yr
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined
2023 Genesis Electrified GV70
Genesis Waves Their Magic EV Wand Yet Again
The Genesis Electrified GV70 is not only the 3rd all-electric vehicle offering from Hyundai’s luxury division, but it’s also the first Genesis model to be built here in the US. You know, the GV70 was already a big hit with both critics and buyers, so let’s find out if a big pack of batteries and American workers can take it to the next level.
For the 2023 model year, the Genesis GV70 utility has gone electric. And like the Electrified G80 sedan before it, Genesis has integrated an all-electric drivetrain into its existing platform seamlessly and effectively.
Now, it may look almost exactly like the sleek and sophisticated internal combustion powered GV70 SUV that arrived just last year. But packed underneath it all, is the GV60’s next-gen propulsion system that uses a pair of electric motors delivering standard all-wheel drive and 429-horsepower. Both the front and rear-mounted electric motors are 160-kW and produce a combined 516 lb-ft. of torque, relying on energy from a 77.4-kWh battery. Full 350-kW charging capability will get the battery to 80% in just 18-minutes. The Electrified GV70 is rated to travel 236-miles between those charging sessions.
But based on our driving loop, we’d say more is easily possible as we were on pace for over 250-miles; making it an overachiever, much like the G80.
The approach to the interior is not so much a heavy-handed blast of over-the-top luxury, rather just a soothing blend of high-quality metal and leather materials with soft tones, subtle ambient light, and an airy feel that ultimately delivers a very comforting experience.
There’s an available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, along with a 14.5-inch touchscreen that houses standard navigation, and it also has a rotary style control on the console if you prefer that, just don’t confuse it with the rotary gear selector like we did. Lexicon audio, quilted leather, and a suede headliner come with the Prestige package that also includes active noise control and white brake calipers.
Regen braking paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel allow for adjusting amounts of regen up to full 1-pedal driving; or you can let Smart Regen take control, gathering data from past driving history, navigation, and road conditions to determine the appropriate amount of braking. Drive modes include Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport +, and Custom, and Genesis has added some additional sound deadening for this EV.
Based on the incredibly quiet, smooth, and steady highway ride we experienced, we weren’t sure what to expect when we pulled this GV70 up to the line at our Mason Dixon Dragway test track.
Well, not much calmness or serenity here, as this thing absolutely blasted off the line like a rocket, hitting 60 in just 3.9-seconds. That’s almost a full 2-seconds quicker than last year’s 2.5-liter turbo-equipped GV70. It’s hard to beat performance-tuned EVs when it comes to torque delivery, and like the GV60, there’s a boost button on the steering wheel that delivers an additional 54-horsepower for a thrilling 10-seconds, helping us clear the ¼ in 12.4-seconds at 112 miles-per-hour.
The low center of gravity, an electronically controlled suspension, and a Disconnector Actuator System that allows for 2-wheel or 4-wheel-drive operation depending on circumstances, helped keep the Electrified GV70 well-planted through our handling course, and provided a livelier feel than the ICE version.
Substantial side bolstering of the front seats kept us settled in place very nicely. Great steering feel, very little body roll, and only minor amounts of understeer at its limits. Brakes were equally as sporting, with good feedback and stability, despite the noticeable nosedive that typically accompanies stopping 5,000-lbs. of utility vehicle in just 111-feet, 6-feet shorter than the standard GV70.
There are some subtle changes outside for this Electrified version of the GV70; it gets unique 20-inch wheels, and as in the G80, the signature crest grille gets an aerodynamic makeover, nicely integrating the charging port. Same 2-line lighting theme up front, and in back, where the rear bumper is reshaped now that there are no tailpipes. Cargo area is well finished with thoughtful use of space; at 28.7 cubic-ft. with a max of 56.5, capacity is down a tiny bit, but a small storage bin up front under the hood more than makes up for it.
At 37-kWh/100 miles, the Electrified GV70 rates a good efficiency score. Pricing starts at $66,975, about 20-grand over a base ICE GV70, and 3-years of free charging at Electrify America charging stations is included.
Genesis is slowly but surely electrifying their lineup, and the 2023 Electrified GV70 is not just another step in the process, but further proof that carmakers can progress to EVs without upsetting the entire apple cart of their brand. Forward thinking but staying classy, just what we’ve come to expect from Genesis.
- Motor Setup: Dual 160-kW Motors
- Horsepower: 429
- 0-60 mph: 3.9 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 111 feet (avg)
- MW Range: ~254 miles
- Battery Size: 77.4-kWh
- Torque: 516 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 12.4-seconds at 112 mph
- EPA Range: 234 miles
- Efficiency: 37 kWh/ 100 miles