Fiat 500 Abarth SS (2007)

Published: 18 September 2007

A Fiat 500 Abarth? Seen that before…

Yes you have, and we scooped it back in May. But this isn’t a 500 Abarth. This is the super-hot Super Sport version with more power and a few mods to make it a more serious performance hatch. Dubbed ‘SS’ this car is still over a year away, but it’ll be proper pocket-rocket when it arrives. And expect the full list of customisable options to be available too, letting Abarth owners personalise their new toy.

So just how quick will it be?

There are no official figures yet, and Fiat officials aren’t even being drawn into talking about the regular 500 Abarth. But we do know that the regular Abarth will run a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine turning out around 135bhp. These spy shots show the SS’s larger front bumper and two additional air intakes to help cool the higher-powered engine. In the Grande Punto Abarth the same engine has 150bhp, and in the SS version it’s good for 180bhp. Expect somewhere between 165bhp and 180bhp for the hottest 500.

What else is new?

These pictures show the 500 Abarth SS has a distinctly jutting front bumper, much larger than on the regular 500 Abarth. And through the disguise you can make out the larger radiator needed to cool the higher-power engine. Also visible are the deeper and less-rounded side skirts. This prototype is being used to test the engine rather than the suspension: that’s why it runs regular 500’s wheels.

What are the other clues that this is a Fiat 500 Abarth SS?

Those tailpipes. Both the Grande Punto Abarth and 500 Abarth run twin tailpipes but only on one side of the car. The Grande Punto Abarth SS and the 500 Abarth SS shown here both have two separate pipes positioned on either side. Oh, and FYI it’s not a Fiat either. Fiat says that no Fiat badging will appear on the Abarth cars.

So does that mean the Abarth brand is being re-launched?

Spot on. It’ll start with the launch of the Grande Punto Abarth in October next month. That’s for the Italian market, but we won’t get it in the UK until summer 2008. Fiat is on a roll. A few years ago it was all-but-bankrupt and having a messy divorce from GM. Now it’s back on track and building some of the best small cars on the market. Let’s hope the sportier 500s perform as well as their more mundane, cheaper siblings.

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy