The Fiat 500 Abarth Automatic Is Necessary Heresy

Illustration for article titled The Fiat 500 Abarth Automatic Is Necessary Heresy

Necessary heresy: say it five times fast. And after that, think of it as a good explanation for why a lot of sporty cars need a self-shifting option. The latest to get one is the Fiat 500 Abarth, as mentioned in TMS today,and it's only going to be a good thing.


First off, let's be glad Fiat's solution to broadening the 500 Abarth's acceptance did not include trying to use an automated manual paddle-shift option available in Europe. And second, remember this is not in lieu of the five-speed manual in the current car. If I were shopping for a 500 Abarth, of course I'd get the manual. It's a ridiculous car, and if I wanted it to be more civilized I'd get something else.

Some of you agreed, some of you had concerns. Here are some good points.

I credit xenocyclus with today's "necessary heresy" example:

Necessary heresy? Manuals don't sell cars. Plain and simple. If we jalops want to enjoy the control and connectedness of a manual transmission, then we need the slushbox folks to subsidize our manual habit by buying the same cars.



Bingo. We need the automatic for the same reason we need hybrids and EVs. It allows the companies to conform to federal standards and requirements, while still leaving room for the manufacture of enthusiast-driven (no pun intended) models. Enthusiasts get what they want, the government gets what they want, and the company sells cars. Everyone wins.

OK, maybe there's a marketing issue to be worked out still:


That's fine, but then don't call them Abarth's. Hot hatches should come with a stick only.


But again, these aren't your old autoboxes:

Kate's Dirty Sister:

There was a time when manual transmissions were a a no brainer. It was the obvious choice not just for enthusiasts, but for most reasonable persons. Faster, more efficient and a lot more enjoyable than the tragic 3-4 speed planetary auto boxes .

Fortunately, it is not case anymore, in fact it is more the complete opposite. Automatics are now the obvious choice. Faster, a lot more efficient and plenty enjoyable. They are no longer an handicap to the car thanks to the tremendous progress made in the last 10 years.

Of course it's great to row your own, but the trade-off is immense in terms of fuel efficiency and overall performances. This means manuals are quickly losing ground as they only cater to old school enthusiasts. Reasonable people are opting for automatics and there's a bunch of enthusiasts that are choosing faster DSG boxes as well.

We have two cars at home, an F30 328i xdrive and a Focus ST. The BMW is heavier and AWD, this should impact MPG, right ? Both cars have similar engines and power (2.0T - 240/252 hp) and similar torque figures. Well, not only the BMW gets much better MPG, it's also quicker. I'm not a scientist but that ZF 8-speed unit may have something to do with that.

I'm not against manual transmissions, I always had manual cars, but I'm really tired of armchair specialists imposing their visions and telling people what to do. There's really not a lot going on in favor of manuals transmissions anymore beside feelings and nostalgia.

Deal with it.

Right, deal with it. Deal, as in taking doing what Automatch Tom said and advantage of a good deal now on a manual-shift Abarth or Turbo.


Photo: Fiat

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Chairman Kaga

I prefer a slushbox for my commute. It's a stop and go slog that takes an hour to go 10 miles. I could be driving a GTR or a Camry. Wouldn't make a lick of difference. But when the roads are clear and I'm wasting time in a productive way behind the wheel? That's why I keep a 30+ year old utterly ridiculous car, with its ropey, loosey goosey linkage, tuned up and waiting in the garage.