By Kristin Varela on July 24, 2012
During a week testing the Fiat 500 Abarth, I've found people's reactions to it highly amusing. My husband and I took it out for a date night over the weekend, and the valet awarded the $26,000 Abarth prime real estate directly in front of the restaurant, right between a Mercedes-Benz S-Class and an Audi A7.
While the Italian subcompact seems to turn heads left, right and center, it appears to be with a very specific sub-segment: men who know cars and recognize the performance factor of the Abarth.A young hipster guy on a bike stopped to give me two thumbs up. Later that same evening, a middle-aged man hunted me down in a sushi restaurant to ask me about it. When parked in front of Starbucks to not-so-covertly spy on customers' reactions to the Abarth, men young and old paced the car, peered inside and checked out the black forged wheels and red brake calipers.
The few women who did stop to look all commented on Charlie Sheen.
"Can you believe he's getting involved in this, too?" one woman commented. Another said to me, "A little box like this Fiat is actually the perfect place for Charlie Sheen. Let's just keep him locked up in here." While it seems some men idolize him, most women want to run him over. I must admit that I actively try to clear Sheen's Abarth commercial from my head before driving it so a veil of bile wouldn't taint my opinion of the car.
The Abarth has proven to be a little too harsh as a daily driver for me (its fun for about two days), but the clever Super Bowl ad in which the Abarth morphs into a domineering Italian seductress is a great analogy for this car. Sure, she has her personality flaws, but who cares? You kind of get sucked in, charmed and dazed in a somewhat unhealthy stalker-like way by her mere appearance.
I want to hear from men and women alike. What are your thoughts on the Abarth's looks? Is this a timeless fashion statement like Louboutin's red soles, or a cheap and passing seasonal trend? Or maybe like one woman who stopped to talk to me said the Abarth is like "your highest pair of 'car to bar' shoes" worn only for special occasions. Tell us in the comments section below.
Senior Family Editor Kristin Varela blends work and family life by driving her three tween-teen girls every which way in test cars. Email Kristin