Remember when Fiat bought into Chrysler, and there was all that speculation about which models, if an, Fiat would be bringing over to America. More than a few people, me included, were hoping that Fiat would bring in their new 500. A great competitor to BMW’s MINI, for one thing, and it also looked to be a stout performer, given its diminutive proportions.
Turns out Fiat IS bringing the 500 to these shores, and not just any 500, but the sporty 500 Abarth version.
Perhaps the most ironic thing about Fiat brining the 500 into this country is that they are taking a page from the Dodge Challenger marketing book. The Fiat leadership has decided on a Challenger-like marketing strategy for the little Turin hatchback, and just as Dodge did with launching the Challenger with the range-topping SRT8, Fiat will first launch the 500 in performance Abarth trim.
WardsAuto says that Chrysler dealers have been updated that the first 500 to hit U.S. soil will be the Abarth version. Timing-wise, the Fiat 500 Abarth could settle in Chrysler showrooms as soon as next year, but would be branded as a 2011 model.
Aimed squarely at BMW\’s MINI brand, the 500 Abarth will be propelled by a 133 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder mill. No, that’s nowhere near what the MINI’s engine puts out, but the 500 is much, much lighter than what BMW has to offer, and that extra-light curb weight means the Abarth model can accelerate from 0-60 in 7 seconds and top out at a speed of 127mph. And there’s no need to worry about torque steer since the Abarth has Fiat\’s torque-transfer control system.
In addition to the torque-transfer control system, other exclusive touches on the Abarth consist of a rear spoiler, dual exhaust, a sportier suspension setup, thick-rimmed steering wheel, sports seats, a boost gauge and 16 inch wheels.
The Abarth 500 should retail somewhere between $18,000 to $19,000 by the time it lands in America, which is a lot cheaper than the MINI. Fiat expects to sell about 25,000 copies of the Abarth model, and if that pans out, you should be seeing a lot of the little guys around. Sadly, there’s no word of the range topping 500 Abarth SS heading for Chrysler dealerships.
Photo from Flickr user