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Convertible Abarth Esseesse 500C drops Down Under

Top's off: The soft-top Abarth Esseesse 500C has lobbed here for a sharp $38,990.

$4000 premium gets auto transmission plus soft-top for Abarth 500C customers

14 Nov 2011

ABARTH’S drop-top 500C has landed in Australia in time for summer in full-fat Esseesse trim and priced at a lower-than-expected $38,990 plus on-road costs, undercutting the base price of the similarly sprightly Mini Cooper S Cabrio by almost $10,000.

The convertible Abarth is mechanically similar to its hard-top stablemate, except for the standard fitment of an automated manual transmission – shared with the $70,000 695 Tributo Ferrari edition – whereas the Mini commands an extra $2350 for a self-shifter.

Customers get the automatic transmission along with wind-in-the-hair motoring for a premium of just $4000 over the hardtop, making the 500C Esseesse surprising value for money.

Public relations manager for Abarth importer Ateco Automotive, Edward Rowe, told GoAuto the hardtop will remain a manual-only proposition for the time being.

On the convertible, drivers have the option of fully-automatic transmission operation or manual control paddle-shifters, while selecting Sport mode quickens shift times.

As with the standard Fiat-badged 500C, the electric roof can be opened in three stages and results in the loss of just three litres of boot space, resulting in a 182-litre cargo capacity.

60 center imageAbarth has still managed to mount a large rear spoiler to the roof – which lowers with the rest of the mechanism.

The same 16-valve turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine as in the hardtop Esseesse produces 118kW of power at 5500rpm and 201Nm of torque at 2750rpm, with an extra 29Nm available in Sport mode.

It has to work a little harder in the convertible, which is 40kg heavier than the hardtop at 1075kg, blunting its 0-100km/h acceleration by 0.2 seconds to 7.6 seconds, while its top speed is 3km/h lower at 209km/h.

Despite the weight gain, the 500C remains as frugal as the hardtop, consuming an identical 6.5 litres of fuel per 100km and emitting 155 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

Those figures are only 0.2L/100km and 15g/km higher than the regular Fiat 500, which produces 44 fewer kilowatts and takes some 2.9 seconds longer to reach 100km/h.

The brisker Mini Cooper S cabrio reaches 100km/h in 7.3 seconds on the way to 225km/h yet is slightly more economical, consuming 6.4L/100km and emitting 149g/km.

The convertible Abarth retains the 500’s MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, but like the hardtop Esseesse rides on 17-inch rims, sits lower on firmer springs and employs Koni dampers for sporty handling.

Red brake callipers fitted with high-performance pads clamp 284mm drilled and ventilated front discs, with 240mm cross-drilled rotors at the rear.

Also shared with the hardtop are the front and rear bumper extensions, as well as Torque Transfer Control, an electronic torque-steer prevention system that mimics a mechanical limited slip differential.

Other features include a thick-rimmed, flat-bottomed steering wheel, one-piece sports seats and metal-look pedal covers, while the gear selector is replaced by four buttons in a diamond pattern.

The dashboard-mounted turbo boost gauge incorporates a gear-shift indicator that informs the driver when to change gears for the best fuel economy or, in Sport mode, avoid hitting the rev-limiter.

Like the hardtop, standard equipment includes climate-control air-conditioning, electric windows, a premium MP3-compatible sound system, Bluetooth connectivity and rear privacy glass.

Safety aids include seven airbags, electronic stability control, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and hydraulic brake assist, tyre pressure monitoring and a hill-hold function.

Ateco has sold 167 Abarth vehicles so far this year and Ateco expects to sell 120 to 150 Esseesse convertibles a year.

Abarth 500C Esseessepricing (plus on-roads):
500C Esseesse (a)$38,990

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