Exactly one year after the rebirth of the brand and the company, Abarth returns to the Geneva Motor Show, an ideal setting for the public launch of the new 500 Abarth, the long awaited car that combines the enjoyment of extremely sporty driving with the best technology at the service of safety and engineering.
The car was developed by the Fiat Group Automobiles Style Centre with the spirit of the legendary 500 Abarths of the 1960s, and while it is a small, agile, compact car on the outside, inside it features the best that engineering, safety and technology can offer today.
And for people with an assertive character, who love a challenge, as Carlo Abarth did, in addition to the road version prepared with the conversion kit, the small Abarth will also be offered with a racing outfit, the 500 Abarth SS Assetto Corsa, designed for customers who want to try their hand at circuit racing.
‘Small but wicked’
Faithful to the saying coined for Abarth cars in the 1960s (‘small but wicked’), the 500 Abarth promises to be a ‘small’ car with generous performance qualities.
The car on display at the Geneva show is equipped with a Fire 1.4 16v Turbo petrol engine which delivers a maximum of 99 kW at 5,000 rpm and peak torque of 206 Nm at 3.000 rpm in ‘Sport’ mode (in ‘Normal’ mode torque is reduced to 180 Nm at 2,500 rpm). This brilliant, smooth new engine is also a friend of the environment: like the regular Fiat model it is derived from, the new Abarth will respect future Euro 5 legislation.
Another interesting feature of the 500 Abarth is the fact that it adopts the new TTC (Torque Transfer Control) system, which improves the transfer of drive torque to the wheels, but, above all, ensures that the car behaves impeccably on bends, making it safer and more entertaining to drive when you put your foot down.
Aggressive, functional styling
Respecting Abarth tradition in full, the styling of the 500 Abarth is not a mere exercise in interpretation, because it significantly improves the car’s performance. The best proof of this stylistic approach can be found in the attention paid to the aerodynamics and functionality of certain elements.
For example, compared to the basic body, the 500 Abarth optimises aerodynamic behaviour both with the roof extension and a large winged spoiler, and with a ‘slide’ that links up to the underbody, optimising the airflow output, and involving much of the rear bumper.
We should underline that these two elements – the spoiler and the slide – help to reduce drag and increase grip at high speed. What is more, the front slits on the bumper heighten the sporty styling but also perform a useful function, cooling the two intercoolers positioned at the sides.
That is not all. On either side of the ‘slide’, there is an exhaust pipe that corresponds to the symmetrical exits of a single silencer positioned transversely (branded with the scorpion logo, like those in the 1960s).
On the side, sideskirts envelop the curves of the car creating a more vertical profile, which improves the Cd. But it is the front that really announces that the 500 Abarth has the equipment of a true GT: the ‘triptych’ of air intakes consists of a central inlet, which is larger than on the basic model, with a much broader upper slit (above the number plate); the two ‘nostrils’, positioned symmetrically at the sides of the bumper, correspond exactly to the position of the two identical intercoolers, which are just visible through the ‘nostrils’, guaranteeing airflow in and out.
The nose with its trim has been ‘pushed forward’ to create the space necessary for the turboblower; this makes the side view of the 500 Abarth more pronounced and obvious, in perfect harmony with Abarth tradition, recalling the 850 TC and 1000 TC, on which the externally applied manifolds were immediately visible and recognisable as a characteristic feature of the brand.
The trim itself differs from the one on the Fiat 500 because it is in a single piece: the Abarth logo, which appears for the first time without a chrome surround, ‘floats’ on a finned surface that serves as an additional air intake. The Abarth shields positioned on the sides are shot through by a tri-colour arrow, like the ones on the Abarth 595 and 695 in the 1960s, a symbol of the brand’s racing image.
And finally, the 16″ and 17″ wheel rims come in different styles: from multiple spokes to beading of the bore holes (a clear reference to styles adopted for forged wheels in the 1970s).
Racing interiors for extremely enjoyable driving
Inside, the ‘cockpit’ of the 500 Abarth features special instrumentation which is derived from the outfit on the Fiat model, with the addition of an analogue pressure gauge to measure turbo pressure.
It incorporates a LED telltale that optimises gear changes by lighting up at the appropriate moment. The main instrumental panel, with its sports graphics, is protected from glare by an upper lip, while the three-spoke steering wheel has shaped thumb rests, is ‘flattened’ at the bottom to increase roominess, and is adjustable.
The aluminium pedals with their rubber trim have a decidedly ‘racing’ look, like the gear lever knob (covered with leather with a more anatomical grip for sporty driving). The same approach is evident in the seats – of the ‘one-piece’ type, incorporating the head-restraint into the squab – which are upholstered with a choice of materials: fabrics in different combinations of colours and textures, and two versions of leather (black or red).
The headlining and the side trims are black, giving the interior a more technical, sporty look.
The new 500 Abarth is, of course, under evaluation for local introduction – e.t.a. the first half of 2009.
500 Abarth Spec Sheet
4 cylinders in line, 4 valves per cylinder, 1368 cc;
Power output: 99 kW (135 bhp) at 5,500 rpm;
Peak torque in SPORT mode 206 Nm at 3,000 rpm;
‘Drive-by-wire’ accelerator control, without mechanical connection;
Turboboost by IHI variable geometry turbo.
- 5-speed gearbox;
- Dual hose external gearbox control;
- Suspension and steering
- MacPherson layout at front with anti-roll bar;
- Interconnecting wheels at rear with torsion axle and anti-roll bar;
- Ground-hugging sporty stance;
- Dualdrive electrical servo assist with SPORT mode.
- Floating ZPH 4.1.2 front calliper, piston diameter 54 mm;
- Ventilated front brake discs, diameter 284 x 22 mm;
- Floating CII 34 rear calliper, piston diameter 34 mm.
- Solid rear brake discs, diameter 240 x 11 mm.
- Standard: Aluminium alloy rim 6.5″ x 16″ – Tyres: 195/45 R16″
- Optional: Aluminium alloy rim 7″ x 17″ – Tyres: 205/40 R17