What’s this, a hot version of the most exciting small car of the year?
Oh yes, and here at CAR Online we can’t get enough of the Fiat 500. You can read our first drive of the most exciting small car of the year here, but we’re already salivating at the prospect of this, the 500 Abarth. Along with the Grande Punto Abarth, the hot 500 will spearhead Fiat’s relaunch of its famous scorpion badge. The regular 500 is already fun to drive at any speed, and a car that makes you smile: we’re hoping the Abarth will turn that into a broad grin.
So the Fiat 500 Abarth looks good then?
Yes it does. These are the clearest shots yet of the new 500 Abarth. Snapped on the roads around the Nurburgring with only minimal disguise, the little Fiat looks like a cracker. There are few major changes to the bodywork over the standard car as the sills and wheel arches are already amply pumped up. Now filled with large five-spoke alloys, they look even better. Up front, nestling behind the five-spoke wheels are big discs, with red brake callipers to match the body colour.
Indeed, and very shapely it is too. The rubbing strip is now body-coloured and up top you’ll see a roof spoiler adding a proper sporting touch. Again there are no bodywork changes, and unfortunately the 500’s exhaust looks like it will never be centrally mounted. Expect the interior to be suitably changed though, to match the car’s sporting pretensions. In this month’s CAR Magazine Gavin Green called it ‘the most magically alluring interior of any small car on sale today, Mini included’. That’s saying something, and with new seats, pedals and steering wheel, the Abarth should be just as hot inside as out.
Come on then, what’s under that little bonnet?
Beneath those twin vents lies a turbocharged 135bhp 1.4-litre engine. Before you cry out that that’s not enough power, remember that the 500 Abarth will weigh around a ton. And then think how good the Panda 100HP is, on the same platform as the 500, and without forced-induction. The other changes visible up front are an enlarged air vent beneath the Fiat badge, while a bigger radiator is visible through the bottom grille. The matt black rubbing strip complements the look of the wing mirrors and rear spoiler.
Enough already, when can I get my hands on the 500 Abarth?
Not soon enough. The standard car was only launched on 4 July 2007 in Italy and won’t be on UK roads until January 2008. That means we won’t have the 500 Abarth with us until at least the second half of 2008. The Frank Stephenson-designed car is already creating a huge buzz with both the public and motoring press: the Abarth version will only add to that but we’re going to have to wait for it.