Posted Jan 1st 2012 9:05AM
This is 2012 Fiat Abarth 500 debut at L.A Auto Show. After having been absent from the U.S. for more than 30 years, the Cinquecento is making up for lost time with a steady stream of variants. First up was the all-new 2012 Fiat 500, which arrived on our shores this past spring, followed closely by its 500C roll-top convertible sibling. Both of them are cheek-pinchingly cute, but we’ve been pining away for the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, the bad boy of the 500 litter that is debuting for the first time in U.S.-spec form at the 2011 L.A. Auto Show. For those not familiar with the current-gen 500 Abarth, it’s not new. First introduced to Europe in 2008, the 500 Abarth is an absolute hoot to drive.
More aggressive Abarth-designed side skirts provide a vertical and athletic profile, while highlighting the iconic curves of the 2012 Fiat Abarth 500. Abarth-designed 16-inch cast-aluminum wheels, or optional 17-inch lightweight forged-aluminum wheels, fill the flared wheel arches and provide ventilation for the performance brake system. In addition, both wheel designs allow visibility of the lacquered rosso (red) brake calipers.
“Bringing the 2012 Fiat Abarth 500 to the U.S. enables us to reach out to driving enthusiasts who want Italian performance at an attainable price,” said Olivier Francois, Head of Fiat Brand and Chief Marketing Officer – Chrysler Group LLC. “With its lightweight, track-tuned handling and purpose-built design, the Fiat 500 Abarth brings to life the legendary racing heritage of the brand and becomes the Italian high-performance car for everyday driving.”
During the 1950s, Abarth was known for transforming small, lightweight everyday cars into track-ready beasts, and his spirit is reflected in this type-A Cinquecento, which receives a sport-tuned suspension, bigger wheels, and a more muscular stance than its mild-mannered counterpart. The power figures for the U.S.-spec model come in at 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque from its 1.4-liter turbocharged four — roughly matching those of the Euro-market Abarth Esseesse model. While Fiat has not revealed the details on the Abarth‘s EPA rating, we don’t expect it to be much worse than the manual 500′s 30/38 mpg city/highway rating. Also absent from the release was the Abarth‘s 0-60 number; we anticipate it will be close to the Euro-spec Esseesse-tuned Abarth‘s time of 6.9 seconds.
The Abarth’s front fascia has a larger intake opening, accented by a subtle chin spoiler. There are new rocker extensions and the rear bumper hosts a diffuser with dual exhaust pipes. Other unique exterior items include a roof-mounted spoiler, red brake calipers and mirror caps, and Abarth’s signature scorpion logos and decals. Inside the 2012 Fiat Abarth 500, you’ll find a very serious little place. There’s a flat-bottomed leather-wrapped steering wheel, a boost gauge, and bolstered seats with integrated headrests. Cloth is standard in either black or a black/red combo; leather is available in the same schemes.