Fiat Abarth added to the 500 range with highly innovated enhancements in its performance
For 2013 Fiat Abarth is a new model being added to the 500 range,
The big performance enhancements included in this new model are:
1- The five-speed manual transmission; 2 – A sport suspension; 3 – Better steering calibration;
4 – Stiffer shocks; 5 – Upgraded brakes; 6 – Unique Aero Kit; 7 – Smoked-out headlamps
8- Sport Seats; 9 – Leather-wrapped Steering Wheel; 10 – Shift Knob; 11- Optional Heated;
12 – Leather Seatl; 13 – Beats by Dr. Dre Audio System.
Reviewing, the Abarth brand was reborn in 2007 with the Punto Abarth, but the bigger news is this 500, which followed with a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine in two stages of tune, depending on whether it’s in standard form or with the optional “La Esse Esse” (SS = Super Sport) performance pack adding not just a noteworthy exclusivity to the city car clique but a turbocharged twist to what was already a particularly potent little package.
In the new design, having its big side skirts and bumpers, posh rear spoiler and the vertical slashes on the front and rear bumpers provide the brakes with cooling air with the two functional exhausts. Over the standard 500 Abarth, which itself gets 16-inch alloy wheels and new springs and dampers for its MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, the Esse Esse pack brings with it different springs and dampers again; and 17-inch alloy wheels, as well as bigger brake discs and its power increase.
Interiorly the general cabin layout is 500, of course, but in the detailing – and lots of it – it’s pure Abarth. So the major rubberised elements of the dash are black, as is the headlining unique to the Abarth 500, leaving the body-coloured splash across the centre console as the only splashed highlight. There’s a rotary dial for the backrest, but it’s rather too easy to confuse the seat base’s lever with the adjacent handbrake. They won’t go low enough for some, and the seat base is a little short, too, but that’s not uncommon on a car as small as the 500. Pedals are, naturally enough, alloy (though ‘racing pedals’, as advertised, is stretching it a bit) and the steering wheel has the now-obligatory flat spot at the bottom. Fortunately, not too much of it is flattened, so it’s almost as functional as a typical round wheel, while its sculpted hand grips feel good, as does the leather-finished gearlever. Other Abarth treatments include a turbo boost gauge and shift light, and a Sport button on the dash – which does the opposite to Fiat’s usual ‘city’ button. Instead of lightening the steering feel, it adds a bit of weight: it also changes the shift light from an eco-mode to a performance mode. The rest of the interior is generic 500: adequate space for those in the front, small rear seats and a small boot.
In its performance, as standard, the Fiat 500 Abarth develops 133bhp at 5500rpm with 152lb ft of torque (132lb ft without ‘Sport’ engaged), but in Esse Esse form it gets a fulsome 157bhp (and up to 170lb ft). There are no serious mechanical changes in the engine to achieve the greater power output as is fairly typical these days. But there’s a new air filter, which adds some a bit of volume to the induction noise and helps it breathe more freely, while there’s a remapped ECU, too.
In a straight line, the 500 Abarth managed to chirrup its way to 60mph in 7.6sec (the standard traction and stability control cannot be switched out), despite/because of its 1135kg tested weight (full of fuel but otherwise empty), and the fact it can hit 60mph in second gear. It feels about that fast, too.
As well as the power increase, Esse Esse-equipped Abarths come with bigger brakes – 284mm ventilated and drilled discs at the front and 240mm drilled ones at the rear – and there’s certainly nothing wrong with the way the 500 Abarth stops. Its braking distances of 46.8m (from 70mph in the dry) are impressive, and there’s precious little fade even after a few laps of our dry handling circuit.
Riding & Handling are firm and composed on good roads, firm and jiggly, sometimes crashy, and almost always a bit noisy, on bad ones. The Abarth does steer pleasingly, though, with a fine speed and weight to the system, and decent linearity and some feel of front-wheel grip levels.
If ‘Sport’ mode is deactivated, it gets lighter, which is better around town, but you lose some of the feedback.
The little Fiat comes with a decent range of equipment and economy is respectable, too, at 27.5mpg over the test period. That compares with an official combined consumption figure of 43.5mpg.