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The new 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth is about to be unleashed on the American public. Fiat claim the Abarth is aimed at trackday enthusiasts, building on a strong racing heritage from Europe.
Fiat describe the styling of the new 500 Abarth as aggressive and functional. The front fascia has been pushed forward by 2.7 inches, aping the styling of the older 850TC and 1000TC Abarth models.
Meanwhile the designers have given the 500 Abarth more aggressive side skirts and flared wheel arches. 17-inch lightweight-forged-aluminium wheels fill the wheel arches and house red or black painted brake callipers.
The cockpit hasn’t escaped the designers touch either. The speedometer now reads up to 160mph and the instrument panel is wrapped in black leather with red stitching. An analogue turbo-boost gauge finishes off the effect.
The chosen engine is Fiat’s own 160bhp 1.4 litre MultiAir turbo engine, which produces 230Nm of torque to boot. The output represents a 59% increase in power over the standard engine. This is linked to a heavy duty 5 speed manual gearbox.
The engine uses a cast-iron block with an aluminium bedplate and a forged-steel crankshaft. The crankshaft has been lightened to reduce the spinning mass within the engine. Meanwhile, the durability has been ensured by the use of full-floating pistons with piston cooling jets which help maintain cylinder temperatures. Oil changes are now due only every 8000 miles.
However, the turbo and the twin intercoolers are the true source of the power. The turbocharger spins at up to 230,000 rpm. Once used, the exhaust gases pass through a ‘double tip’ dual exhaust.
The 500 Abarth also comes with some clever technologies to keep the power in check. Fiat is using their Torque Transfer Control system on this 500. It is designed to control the transfer of torque to the front wheel in an effort to reduce the kind of torque-steer Ford Focus RS drivers’ experience.
There is also an Abarth tuned ‘sport’ mode for drivers to get excited about. This changes the throttle response and ‘weights up’ the steering for a more performance oriented drive. Meanwhile, shift lights will help drivers optimise their gearshifts.
Although many purists will dismiss the notion of satellite navigation in a sports model it is important to many drivers. Fiat has teamed up with TomTom to provide a satellite navigation system that links to a Bluetooth hands-free telephone system.
83 cu in
135 hp @ 5500 rpm
Fuel consumption (combined)
43.56 US MPG
$ 23.559* based on United Kingdom prices
annual ownership cost