It may have a cute little face, but the 2014 FIAT 500 Abarth Cabrio packs a grown-up punch. Named after European racing icon Carlo Abarth, the soft-top Abarth Cabrio has bloodlines on its side. And heritage aside, it's a blast to drive. Here are five reasons why this zesty FIAT convertible is a can't-miss prospect.

Turbocharged Power

Beneath the Abarth's evocative red engine cover lies a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at a spunky 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. That's a lot of get-up-and-go for a pint-sized car, and the high-mounted 5-speed manual transmission makes the most of it with its smooth, precise throws. Lest we forget, there's also a custom exhaust system for the Abarth Cabrio that makes a noise your neighbors won't forget. One run through the gears and you'll know this FIAT means business.

Unique Retractable Roof

The Abarth Cabrio's roof is fabric on top, and the way it retracts reminds us of a supersized sunroof. Surrounded by metal, it gives you almost the same structural soundness as the Abarth coupe, yet it folds back to let in the sun like a true convertible. Here's another unusual feature: Because of that metal frame, the Abarth Cabrio's roof can be opened or closed at up to 60 miles per hour. Most convertibles top out at about 25 mph, so that's a real ace up the FIAT's sleeve.

Sporty Handling

The regular FIAT 500 is already a zippy little thing, but the Abarth Cabrio takes it up a notch. The springs are stiffer, the ride height is lower, the front shocks are high-performance pieces from KONI, and the tires are wider Pirellis. The brakes are upgraded, and they have spiffy red calipers, too. The upshot is that this little Cabrio is a blast to drive, whether you're shooting around town or carving up your favorite back road.

Great Fuel Economy

Fortunately, all this fun is pretty much guilt-free, because the Abarth Cabrio gets a whopping 28 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That's remarkable for a car that can hit 60 mph in under seven seconds and pass slow-moving cars like they're standing still. Other than the more expensive MINI Cooper S, nothing really comes close.

Reasonable Price

With its performance credentials and Italian genes, you might expect the Abarth Cabrio to be unattainably expensive, but check it out: A new Abarth Cabrio can be yours for about $27,000 to start. Just try to find another convertible with this much fun and fuel economy for the price. Trust us: You're going to be looking for a long time.

AutoTrader Says

The 2014 FIAT 500 Abarth Cabrio is quite possibly the most fun you can have for the price. Take one for a spirited test drive and tell us why we're wrong.

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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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