Is a USED Abarth 500 the most fun you can have for £5,000?

S​hould you consider a cheap Abarth 500 for £5,000 or are there better options out there?

9w ago


There is a huge abundance of second-hand automobiles that can be purchased for less than £5,000. However, one would think that, for this budget, cars that really excite the petrolhead within us are few and far between. This is simply not the case. For this price, you can find examples of rear-wheel drive straight-6 BMW’s, high-revving Japanese hot hatches, and an array of 2-seater convertibles from the likes of Mazda, MG and others. But recently, the Abarth 500 has depreciated to a point where you can find models for on or below our five-grand budget.

It’s not the fastest car in this price-bracket, nor is it the most premium. However, there’s just something special about this Italian hot hatch that makes it stand out for me.

So, three weeks ago, I made the brave decision to put my own money on the line and buy one.

Trip through the Peak District in the Abarth

Trip through the Peak District in the Abarth

I purchased a 2011 Abarth 500C (C - standing for convertible) with a smidge under 65,000 miles on the clock for just £4,400. After spending the remainder of the budget fixing all the problems it came with, it has been my daily driver and weekend toy rolled into one. After the first 1000 miles, I am happy to say I am NOT disappointed.

140bhp doesn’t sound like much when you compare it to the 200bhp found in other used deals at this price point, such as the Honda Civic Type R, however it’s the way the Abarth delivers its power that makes it feel so special. The turbocharger strapped to the 1.4 multi-air engine sends you down the road in a fireball of Italian fury. The Record Monza exhaust system makes the Abarth, arguably, the greatest sounding 4-cylinder engine fitted to a production car. It has a deep throaty noise with pops and bangs when your foot’s in the carpet but offers nice subtle burbles around town. You get plenty of feedback through the wheel and the car gives you huge amounts of confidence in the corners. And who doesn't love a delicate Italian sports car?

But what makes the Abarth so perfect for enjoying UK roads, is its size. Firstly, it weighs approximately 1,000kg which makes 140bhp feel like a million. It also stops incredibly well and reduces fuel consumption, which is quoted 43.5mpg combined. The narrow width opens up more possible lines through corners, as the car takes up less of the road. Also, the smaller engine means cheaper road tax and insurance when compared to the 2-litre+ cars that can be bought for this price.

In terms of reliability, I shall report back on how the car treats me over the coming months, as well as an article dedicated to what you should look for, should you be looking to purchase one yourself. However, owners generally report few mechanical issues, with most common problems being niggles related to the body and subframe areas as well as electrical problems with lights and occasionally the ECU.

If you are a young petrolhead or are just looking for some cheap fun, do not overlook the Abarth 500. It offers great bang-for-buck performance and is a true driving pleasure.

Join In

Comments (10)

  • what a gloriously looking car

      17 days ago
  • I like the concept of it but not the execution. If the mechanicals weren’t so aged it would be better but it’s trading on its looks, lacking proper engineering foundation and that does not make for a good car. It’s the reason most Italian cars fall apart sooner than German or Japanese ones.

      1 month ago
  • They do sound great and are a great drivers car but it’s the build quality that will end up letting it down

      2 months ago
    • We’ve had one from new, it’s 6 years old now. It’s been serviced as needed and the only issue we’ve had is the boot opening switch stopped working. All that took was pushing the pivot pins back in.

      My 6 year old loves it. He even got a comment...

      Read more
        2 months ago
  • Great read on a great little car 👍

      2 months ago
  • You could probably get e36's for 5k...

      4 days ago