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2013 Fiat 500c Abarth Preview: 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show

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Love the Fiat 500 Abarth but really want to get an open-air driving experience? Well then, Fiat has just the thing for you as it's revealing the 2013 500c Abarth, where the c stands for cabriolet. Basically, take the sliding soft-top from the 500c, put it on a 500 Abarth, and you have the right idea.

Powertrain-wise, the 500c Abarth features the same MultiAir 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, rated at 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, as the 500 Abarth gets. Power is sent to the front wheels through a five-speed manual transmission, with no automatic or dual-clutch transmission available. For those who love stats, the 0-60 mph time will be in the low seven-second range, but firm numbers haven't been provided yet.

Track-tuned performance is a must with any vehicle sporting an Abarth badge, and the 500c Abarth doesn't disappoint. In fact, the suspension is the same setup used in the 500 Abarth hatchback. Compared to the standard 500c, spring rates are up 33-percent in the front and 12-percent in the rear, the ride height is 15 mm lower, and the steering is quicker with a 15.1:1 ratio. Some negative camber has been dialed in to the tune of -1.5 degrees, and dual-valve KONI twin-tube struts deliver added control through the corners.

Stopping power has also been upgraded over the regular 500c with semi-metallic pads at all four corners, along with vented 11.1-inch rotors up front. All calipers feature Rosso red paint for an athletic look.

One of the most-talked about aspects of the 500 Abarth hatchback is the sonorous dual-exhaust system, and the 500c Abarth features the exact same system. With the soft top on the Abarth 500c model open, you'll be able to hear even more of it, and we can't wait to hear that raspy growl with the top down.

Speaking of an open-air driving experience, the cloth cabriolet top can retract back to the rear spoiler at speeds up to 60 mph, and re-deploy all the way back (tucking in behind the rear head restraints) while traveling up to 50 mph.

We know you are worried about extra weight added by cabriolet top, but don't be. The 500c Abarth weighs 33 pounds more than the 500 Abarth, with all the same upgrades. That extra weight comes thanks to the extra bracing behind the dashboard and strengthening of the A-, B-, and C-Pillars.

The exterior of the 500c Abarth features the same body kit you'll find on the 500 Abarth hatchback. Up front, you'll find a more pronounced fascia with three air inlets which feed the two intercoolers. On the sides of this Italian you'll find flared wheel arches, and out back there's a cloth-top-mounted spoiler along with dual-exhaust.

Inside the 500c Abarth, you'll find the same one-piece, deeply-bolstered sport seats that are used in the 500 Abarth hatchback, along with the LED shift light and boost gauge. The thick, black leather-wrapped Abarth steering wheel has contrasting Rosso red stitching to match the leather-wrapped shift knob. There's a 160 mph speedometer along with aluminum pedals trimmed in rubber. The 500c Abarth also features Beats by Dr. Dre as part of the available 368-watt sound system.

Safety wise, the 500c Abarth features seven standard air bags along with a three-mode stability control system which can be fully disabled for enthusiasts pleasure.

All 2013 500c Abarth owners will have the opportunity to attend the Abarth Driving Experience, too. This is a full day of track driving guided by professional instructors from the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

The 2013 Fiat 500c Abarth goes on sale in the first quarter of 2013, and pricing will be announced closer to launch. Also next year, Fiat will be launching the U.S.-spec 500L and electric 500e. Both cars also made their respective debuts in L.A. You can gather all the details on the 500L here and 500e here.

For more information be sure to bookmark our Los Angeles Auto Show hub here. Also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest updates from the show floor.

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