It's the battle of the discontinued hot hatches
The Ford Fiesta ST and Fiat 500 Abarth never really stood a chance in the United States. Both cars represent everything Americans abhor: minimalism, cutesy styling, frugality, and above all else, a sense of whimsy. We know how the American buyer thinks. Why buy an adorable hot hatchback with a kick-ass turbocharged engine and manual transmission when for the same monthly payment, I can get a much larger crossover (probably in white, black, or silver) that will cost less to insure, fit more of my stuff, and probably get better gas mileage?
Ford announced that the Fiesta ST would be discontinued before the 2019 model even arrived on the market and last September, Fiat announced that the 500 would end production for the US market. With both cars now dwindling in supply, it is your absolute last chance to buy one new. Here's why you should.
Having been released as a 2014 model back in 2013, we shouldn't have to explain the greatness of the Ford Fiesta ST but we never grow tired of talking about it. The second of Ford's ST models in the US, the Fiesta ST arrived sporting a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 197 horsepower. Like the Focus ST, the power went out to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. If you wanted an automatic, you had to look elsewhere. Just how we like it. 0-60 mph took just under seven seconds but the Fiesta ST was not built for straight-line speed. It was built to put a big, dumb smile on your face.
Just take one corner a bit too quickly and you'll get what we are on about. The Fiesta loves to tripod, putting a wheel up in the air as it eagerly uses its brakes to torque vector. Inside, you'll be grinning like an absolute buffoon because the steering translates every imperfection of the road back to the driver in a way few modern sports cars can match. As a driving experience, the Fiesta ST is tough to beat.
Dynamically, the Fiat 500 Abarth is nowhere near as composed as the Fiesta ST but it is more of a laugh riot. The Abarth's 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder only produces 160 hp but you'd never tell by listening to it. Fiat never gave the Abarth models a muffler, so its exhaust note is reminiscent of a Ferrari's.
It's also smaller and lighter than the Fiesta, giving it a nimble (and bouncy) feel. This car is far more about the experience of the engine and the hilarious juxtaposition of hearing a Ferrari exhaust coming out of a tiny hatchback. The Fiesta ST is by far the more practical car to drive every day but for fun-factor, the 500 Abarth is still a strong contender.
Both of these cars were very affordable, which is why we are so distraught to see them leave the US market, only to be replaced by expensive SUVs. Used 2019 Fiesta ST has a starting MSRP of $21,340 while the used Fiat 500 Abarth costs slightly less at $20,745. The Fiesta, even with no options, comes with all of the modern amenities you could possibly want in 2020.
Keyless entry with push-button start, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality are all standard features. The only big option was the Recaro seats for $1,995, though we could only find a single example with them. The Fiat is a bit more basic by comparison, with items like a larger navigation screen and automatic climate control only available as options.
Sadly, both the Fiesta ST and Fiat 500 Abarth are in shorty supply as both will cease to exist in the US following the 2019 model year. There is an all-new Fiesta ST over in Europe and Fiat just released an all-electric 500, but if the sales of either of these two cars were any indication, neither of the new models will be coming to the US. After running an online search, we only found around a dozen Fiesta STs left on the market and after filtering out the automatics, around the same number of 500 Abarths.
With the Fiesta ST, you are limited in color options to Shadow Black, White Platinum Tri-Coat Metallic, and Orange Spice Metallic Tri-Coat. Only one orange car remains in inventory and if you want the last car with Recaro seats, it's a black example being offered at Lithia Ford Lincoln of Roseburg, Oregon. Fiat has a slightly more colorful pallet leftover, including White Tri-Coat, Vesuvio Black Pearl, Laser Blue Metallic, Brillante Red, Pompei Silver, and Colosseo Gray with a few different interior colors.
These are both great cars but it doesn't mean you should have to pay top dollar for them. Both cars have been sitting on dealer lots for a while now, just waiting for a true car enthusiast to come give them a good home. Most of the Fiesta ST examples are listed online with a $2,000 to $3,000 discount but we think there's more negotiating to be done. We purchased a 2017 Fiesta ST towards the end of the model year and nabbed it for less than $17,000 after incentives. Most of the 500 Abarths seem to have around a $2,000 discount as well but when you go into the dealership, be willing to walk out and remind the salesperson how few buyers will be interested in a tiny, manual transmission hot hatchback.
If you can get either of these cars for less than $20,000 (before taxes and fees), you've done well.