Though the Chrysler-Fiat merger faces a bumpy road ahead, and many pundits think it's a hopeless case--DaimlerChrysler redux--there's at least one bright spot for Americans in the mess: the 2011 Fiat 500. And it's coming at the end of this year.
Ralph Gilles confirmed the arrival date today at the Chicago Economic Club. When it does arrive, it's expected to get four different variants, including the standard three-door hatch, the 500C cabriolet, a "Giardinetta" wagon, and the model that is expected to launch Fiat back to American sales: the 500 Abarth.
The Fiat 500 Abarth will bring the brand back in style, with a turbocharged 1.4-liter T-Jet gasoline engine rated at 135 horsepower, the Abarth isn't as power-packed a mighty-mite as the 160-horsepower Abarth SS, but it's aggressively styled and sure to put the MINI on notice--and the 2011 Audi A1, too, if it ever arrives on our shores.
In fact, the range of 500s expected to land Stateside looks suspiciously similar to the MINI range. There have even been rumors that a crossover version is in the works, a la MINI's Countryman.
Whatever form the 2011 Fiat 500 takes on its U.S. debut, we're looking forward to the chance to hop behind the wheel and put it to the test.