The Abarth Cabrio still is quite low to the pavement when compared with a van or SUV. At one point, the test car was behind a school bus, and the driver's eye was at the same height as the exhaust pipe of the bus.
Note that the Mini Cooper S is 4 feet 7.7 inches tall, while the low-slung Miata is just 4 feet 1.
Everyone inside the Abarth Cabrio feels the road intimately. Even on smooth-looking pavement, there were vibrations pretty much all the time for passengers in the test car. It was worse on patched and rough pavement, where the ride was downright jolting and jarring, and the short wheelbase sometimes made for a choppy ride.
Thankfully, the test car's low-profile tires didn't suffer any flats from some major potholes.
The ride also was loud, and the driver often had to adjust the volume of the radio.
There was turbo lag at times from the 1.4-liter, turbocharged, MultiAir four cylinder, but the driver can maximize performance with smart shifts of the five-speed manual. No six speed is offered.
Peak torque of 170 foot-pounds comes on starting at 2,500 rpm and continues to 4,000 rpm. This contrasts with the 177 foot-pounds of peak torque that arrives by 1,600 rpm in the Mini Cooper S Convertible.
Premium gasoline is recommended in the Abarth Cabrio to get top performance, but regular is OK, too. Still, the Abarth Cabrio's gas tank holds just 10.5 gallons, so the travel range is about 325 combined city/highway miles. In comparison, the Mini Cooper S Convertible's tank holds 13.2 gallons.
The test car's optional performance seats were a thick, cushioned surprise and a welcome addition, given all the jolts and jarring that came through from the road.
Front passengers enjoyed nearly 41 inches of legroom, but the top of the head of a 6-footer protruded from the cabrio opening. Back seat legroom of 31.7 inches is decent, considering the Mini Convertible has just 28.5 inches.
Push a button and the top opens — either for a sunroof style or a full cabrio, with the fabric folded down by the rear spoiler and spoiling rear views.
The Fiat's TomTom navigation system, while removable and stowable, blocks views out the windshield and has smallish buttons. The radio, too, seemed clunky to use.
While fit and finish looked good on the test car, one slight hit on a wheel well by a neighboring car door took a chip of paint off.