Hot 500 gets aggressive makeover and turbo 1.4-litre power: on sale late 2008
18 February 2008

You’re looking at the first official photograph of the aggressive new Fiat 500 Abarth, one of the funkiest looking, and potentially most exciting, hot hatches arriving in 2008.The 500 Abarth will debut at the Geneva motor show next month and is the second Fiat to be overhauled with the scorpion sports treatment as part of the Abarth brand’s recent revival.

Hot 500 gets 135bhp: still want that Mini Cooper?

Powered by a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, the new 500 Abarth develops 135bhp at 5500rpm and a maximum 151lb ft torque from 3000rpm in ‘Sport’ mode. It drives the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox. To get that power to the road smoothly, the 500 Abarth uses an electronic Torque Transfer Control system to help eliminate torque steer. And the car's beefed-up looks aren’t just for show; engineers claim all the styling tweaks serve a purpose, reducing drag and improving aerodynamic performance. That jutting front bumper, for example, channels air beneath the car improving high-speed handling. The bulge on the bonnet, pushed forwards and outwards, is a design nod to classic Abarth models but also accommodates the turbocharger.The Fiat 500 Abarth's suspension is a MacPherson strut set-up at the front with a torsion beam at the rear. Both have been beefed up to cope with the car's extra pace. Expect a 0-60mph time of around 7.0sec and a top speed of close to 130mph.Other racy touches to the Abarth 500 include LED shift lights in the cabin, and scorpion logos embossed on the twin exhaust. There’s also potential for owners to fit official aftermarket kits for more power, and there’ll be a track-only special edition available too. We’re expecting the Fiat 500 Abarth to cost around £14,000 when it arrives in Britain later this year.

Will Powell

Our Verdict

Fiat 500 review hero front

The Fiat 500 is a deserved success story for the brand, offering bags of style, a fine drive and low costs

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19 February 2008

I must admit I'm a little dissapointed by the specs of this Arbarth. Epspecially one which is supposed to breath new life into the prestigious Italian marque. Granted 0-60 in 7seconds is pretty impressive for a hot hatch of this size. However if they had wanted to lift this baby Fiat from being a retrospective also ran, to a class leading prospect; perhaps they should have conisdered something more along the lines of 170bhp. This would have given a 0-60 closer 6.0 and if they'd have found this power by raising the rev limiter to around 7000rpm all the better.

The Mini Cooper S is there to be bettered, not matched; and by matching it's power the Arbarth could have turned it's significant weight advantage into something quite interesting indeed.

In the end the Arbarth seems like a plate of luke warm Bolognese, rather than the picante serving of Arribiata we'd all hoped.

19 February 2008

The Abarth is motoring speak for "Wait for the SS". Given the chassis' humble origins anything over 150bhp could be "interesting" to control. A better idea would be to have stripped the 500 out and used this to give a better power to weight ratio, I mean, 170bhp in something this size? Mazda 2 - less is more?

If I want an autonomous car, I'll take a taxi.

19 February 2008

The SS will have 160bhp- which in a car weighing around 1000kg should be plenty.....

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