The U.S. will soon get to enjoy one of the most stylish and fun-packed hot hatches the rest of the world has been lapping up since 2008.
We are of course talking about the sporty new Fiat 500 Abarth, which makes its debut next month at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show before hitting local showrooms early in the new year.
For anyone not familiar with the Abarth brand, it is an Italian race car manufacturer that’s now responsible for not only Fiat’s motorsports efforts but also for the tuning of some of its cars. You’ll recognize an Abarth by the menacing scorpion logo adorned to many of the cars.
The new Fiat 500 Abarth, pictured here in U.S. trim for the first time, will arrive as a 2012 model and with it will come a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with MultiAir technology and standard six-speed manual. Chrysler hasn’t announced power levels for its new 500 Abarth but expect something similar to the 135 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque offered in its European equivalent.
What we do know is that it will come with track-tuned suspension and brakes, a sporty bodykit, and an aggressive rear diffuser with integrated exhaust tips. This should ensure the car behaves itself on bends, making it safer and more thrilling when the pedal is pushed to the floor. In other words, it should be faithful to the phrase coined by Abarth founder Karl Abarth for the sporty Fiats of the 1960s: “small but wicked”.
Inside, there’s a blend of clean lines and functional performance appointments. An Abarth-designed steering wheel features a thick rim, perforated leather and flat bottom to provide the look, feel and increased roominess desired by performance drivers. For easier operation, and to keep the driver’s eyes on the road ahead, the steering wheel also includes cruise, audio and BLUE&ME connectivity features.
Behind the steering wheel, the Fiat 500 Abarth features a large concentric instrument cluster with 160-mph speedometer, tachometer and trip computer. Other unique additions to this model are an analog turbo-boost gauge with integrated LED shift-light in the center, as well as Abarth sport seats. GPS navigation from TomTom is available as an option.
No word on pricing but expect a hike over the $15,500 asking price of the regular 2012 Fiat 500.
Look out for the debut of the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, press days for which kick off on November 16. In the meantime check out our dedicated show page for all the latest updates plus our own review of the regular 2012 Fiat 500.