2012 Fiat 500 Abarth
Fewer and fewer new cars require an actual key anymore. But, that doesn’t keep us from giving you first impressions on the latest starters.
While sales of the Fiat 500 have been a little slow in building, we were fairly impressed with its ability to pack a decent amount of fun into its cute little package. But even we weren’t fully prepared for the “small but wicked” 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth.
The viciousness all starts under the hood, where the 500’s 1.4-liter MultiAir I4 gets 18-PSI of boost from a single turbo, and pumps up horsepower nearly 60% to 160. Engine internals are beefed up to handle the peak output of 117-horsepower per liter. The result - 0 to 60 in under 7 Seconds or 30% sooner than the standard 500.
That power was quickly noticed through the corners of Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch near Las Vegas, Nevada and a firmer shifting 5-speed manual transmission helped us put it to good use, though a 6-speed would help us love it even more.
The lowered suspension has been thoroughly tweaked and includes Frequency Selective Damping KONI shocks and a new rear stabilizer bar, which makes cornering about as flat as can be. There is still a little understeer, but most of the time we just kept it flat-footed and hunted apexes with relative ease.
Even on relatively smooth Nevada roads, we rate the ride as stiff, but still not harsh and this little pocket-rocket delivers a surprising amount of feedback. Particularly when you hit the Sport button, which not only gives you more steering feel and quicker throttle response, but unleashes all of this micro-beast’s additional horses. The Abarth features unique front and rear fascias, as well as new stickers and badging.
Extended side skirts, rear wing, and 16 or 17-inch forged aluminum wheels highlight the profile, as do the red-painted brake calipers. A new performance-tuned exhaust system sounds impressively good and shoots spent gasses through a pair of “double-tipped” outlets.
Inside there are more-supportive seats, a grippy new steering wheel, pedal covers, and a unique gauge package, including a turbo boost gauge.
But, what impressed us most about the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth is the $22,000 price tag. You don’t have to be on “The Price Is Right” to figure out that that’s a steal. We can’t think of another car packing this much performance for that low of a price.
Engine: 1.4-liter MultiAir I4