Fun, compact, and decidedly Italian, the 2013 Fiat 500 extends the return of the brand to the U.S. with a full fleet of variants, though the one we're most interested in is the Fiat 500 Abarth.
Synonymous with Fiat performance for decades, the Abarth brand returns to the U.S. alongside the Fiat 500, bringing with it 1.4 liters of turbocharged fun in a stylish, sporty, and surprisingly capable sub-compact platform.
With 160 horsepower and just over 2,200 pounds curb weight, the Fiat 500 Abarth is something rare in the modern era: light and rather powerful. On track or on the street, the performance is readily accessible and thoroughly enjoyable. Echoing the behind-the-wheel fun, the Abarth's throaty exhaust lets everyone in a 100-foot radius know what's going on--which can be both a blessing and a curse.
Despite this focus on sport and style, the Fiat 500 Abarth is surprisingly comfortable--for front seat passengers. Yes, there is a nominal back seat, but it's best reserved for handbags and packages.
The Abarth isn't the only high point in the Fiat 500 range, however. A new 500 Turbo model boosts the standard engine's 101 horsepower to 135. With a more aggressive look and extra power, it's a midpoint between the city-car 500s and the track-rat Abarth.
Best of all for this duo of Italian hatches is the price: the 500 Turbo starts at $19,500 and the hot Abarth goes from $22,000. Those are bargain-basement prices for the amount of fun, utility, and head-turning style you get in return.
Both the Turbo and the Abarth offer fair equipment packages, including a Beats by Dr. Dre audio system in the 500 Turbo and a range of unique appearance packages--inside and out--for the Abarth. You won't find the highest of high-end modern gadgetry on the options list, but then, that's really not what the 500 is all about, anyway.
For the full take on the 2013 Fiat 500, including Abarth and Turbo models, read our review at The Car Connection