Group LLC dealers have been advised that their first 500 subcompact, due in the ’11 model year, will be the up-contented, sporty Abarth edition.
The Abarth version of the 500 is similar in dimension toAG’s Mini Cooper but goes the Mini one better in that it has a race-car heritage dating back to the 1950s.
That’s when Karl Abarth produced-based race cars and supplied parts for the small Fiats of that era. Fiat Automobiles SpA purchased the Abarth firm in the 1990s, not reviving the Abarth name until 2007 on the Grande Punto hatchback.
For recent emanations of Abarth junior editions, Fiat has moved upmarket with a number of sporty features.
The DOHC 16-valve, 4-cyl. engine is turbocharged, now delivering 133-hp and 0-60 mpg (97 km/h) in 7 seconds.
The front-wheel-drive powertrain has a 127 mph (204 km/h) top speed and fuel economy of 25-33 mpg (9.4-7 L/100 km).
Styling touches include liftgate spoiler, twin tailpipes, 16-in. wheels, modernized front bumper, aluminum pedals, a beefy steering wheel, leather-trimmed shifter for the 5-speed manual transmission, sporty seats and a boost gauge.
Without a turbo, the Fiat Abarth is rated at 99 hp. To reduce understeer, Fiat has introduced a torque-transfer control system that brakes a spinning wheel.
The Abarth is expected to sell for $18,000-$19,000 when it arrives in the U.S. The European model seats four. Its shocks and springs are upgraded from those in the base-model 500.
Fiat forecasts first-year sales of 20,000-25,000 Abarths in the U.S., as it strives to compete with the Mini Cooper, which has similar delivery numbers.
dealers will sell Fiats as part of the Italian auto maker obtaining a controlling interest in Chrysler this year.