The New Fiat 500 Abarth

Last week I attended the 2012 New England Auto Show in Boston.  I saw a number of interesting cars, but one that particularly caught my eye was the Fiat Abarth 500.  This is a performance oriented version of the new Fiat 500.   The standard Fiat 500 has a 1.4 litre 101 horsepower inline 4-cylinder engine, while the Fiat 500 Abarth has a turbocharged version of this engine that produces 160 horsepower.  Quite an improvement!  This will take the Fiat 500 Abarth from 0 – 60 mph in about 6.8 seconds.

The Fiat 500 Abarth

The Fiat 500 Abarth only comes with a 5-speed transmission.  The Fiat 500 Abarth, as expected on any car with the name “Abarth”, has been tuned to be a very good performer on the road.  The Abarth model has an improved MacPherson strut design and added Koni dampers and shorter coil springs that are stiffer by 40/20 percent front/rear.  The Fiat 500 Abarth also has improved front control arms, beefier anti-roll bars front and rear, and a reinforced the rear axle and coiled spring mounts.   Another handling improvement with the Abarth is a power steering system that is 10 percent quicker than the standard Fiat 500.  Further the front brake disc diameter has been increased by an inch over the standard Fiat 500 to 11.1 inches.

The Interior of the Fiat 500 is Not large, But It Certainly Has a Large Enough Front Seat Area

The name Abarth has a long history in motorsports.  Carlo Abarth began a racing career in the 1930s. After World War II, he began working with Ferry Porsche, son of Porsche founder Ferdinand Porsche where he became an Italian distributor of Porsche products.   Eventually he helped Porsche design and build the Cisitalia Type 360 grand prix car.  When Cisitalia went belly-up, largely as a result of the development the grand prix car, Abarth formed his own company, Abarth & Co. with the purpose of developing and modifying race cars.  While Abarth was successful with race and rally cars over the years, he was not successful in making money and eventually the Abarth company was bought by Fiat in 1971.

The Abarth Name Has a Long History in Motorsport 

The Abarth name and emblem is prominently displayed on the new Fiat 500 Abarth.  The Abarth model of the Fiat 500 will have a price point perhaps just over $23,000.  It appears to be nice package that should draw interest from some performance minded drivers, but as I have not had an opportunity to drive the car myself or talk to anyone who has driven the car with some vigor, time will tell.

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