Abarth : My Abarth 500: 5.4.2009
Before the Abarth I used to own an Alfa 147 GTA which is a Fiat Group brand as well. Usually I've changed cars every three years and that was also the plan with the GTA. I started thinking about the replacement for the GTA in spring 2008 which was approx. 1 year before the planned purchase of the next car.

My old Alfa 147 GTA

My experiences with the GTA were positive and therefore I considered replacing it with another Alfa. Unfortunately there were not interesting enough Alfa models for sale at the least not until the Alfa Mito GTA would be on the market. Therefore I had to look elsewhere when looking for replacement to the GTA:

While looking for different alternatives I test drove a Golf R32 and a Focus ST but neither of them managed to leave big enough impression to be considered as a replacement for the GTA. Lotus Elise was one of the possible options and I considered long and hard if I should import an Elise from Central Europe to Finland. In the end there was few issue which influenced my decision to not buy an Elise. First of all second hand Elises were still quite pricey in Central Europe and the registration taxes for Elise would be high in Finland. Secondly the winter capabilities of Elise would be pretty bad which would mean that buying another car for winter driving would be necessary which would not be very tempting proposition.

After the Elise I turned my attention to the Porsche Boxster and more specifically the face-lifted model produced from year 2003 on. The reason for this was the fact the newer model has a proper heated glass rear window which would be good in the Finnish winter conditions. Unfortunately the prices of the Boxsters in Central Europe were pretty high and once again the expected Finnish registration taxes would also be high. Well maybe later since I would have liked the Boxster.

The German-British BMW Mini crossed my mind at one point since the handling characteristics of the Mini were supposed to be quite good. However I personally think that the interior of the car is very important since you spend most of your time with the car looking at the interior. On that count Mini scores pretty badly in my opinion and I don't like its retro interior at all and therefore I didn't consider Mini as a real contender even though the John Cooper Works version could have been a quite nice car to drive.

Luckily Fiat had resurrected Abarth and introduced the spiced up Fiat 500 called Abarth 500. Prior to the introduction of Abarth 500 it was rumored that the engine could produce up to 180 horsepower which would have resulted in a quite remarkable power to weight ratio for a small car. Therefore it was slightly disappointing to see Abarth 500 introduced with only 135 horsepower since I had 250 hp and approx. 1,400 kg on my GTA. Well luckily more power would be available for the Abarth 500 which meant that it remained a viable alternative.

Abarth 500

The idea of buying an Abarth 500 became clearer during autumn 2008 and I decided that it would be my next car. Abarth didn't have a distributor in Finland so first hand experiences of the car would not be possible before the purchase. A telephone call to the Finnish Fiat distributor confirmed that there were no plans to import Abarth cars to Finland officially in the near future also. This was not a hindrance to buying an Abarth 500 and there were plenty of info on the car available and it was possible to get some kind of idea of the car by test driving a regular Fiat 500.

I placed a sales ad of my GTA on the net in January 2009 and at the same time I started asking offers for the Abarth from several dealers in numerous countries. The fact that the used car prices had been sinking dramatically and the depression was looming meant that it would be difficult to sell the GTA. In the end the GTA was sold by the end of March after two and a half months. After the GTA was sold it was time to move on with the purchase of the Abarth. More on this subject in the section Buying and importing the car.