Fiat's 500 Gets the Abarth Treatment

March 5, 2008
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Fiat continues to bask in the glory of having the retro-styled 500 crowned European Car of the Year, and two new versions were unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.

The first was a concept and badged the 500 Aria and is designed to be among the most eco-friendly vehicles on the road. Using a 1.3-liter diesel engine with particulate filter linked to a Dualogic transmission, the car can achieve CO2 emissions of 98g/km. Stop-start technology to cut fuel consumption by up to 10 percent in urban traffic is also fitted.

The car also features a number of recycled components, such as the cabin floor which is created using rubber from tires. The seats are upholstered from a woven leather material known as mataleather, while some elements of the cabin trim are made from natural fibers mixed with plastics. There are no plans to put the Aria into production.

The unveiling of the second new version of the Fiat 500 didn’t actually take place on Fiat’s stand. The Italian firm’s racing division, Abarth, had its own display a good distance away – and that’s where the covers came off the 500 Abarth.

Designed to evoke the spirit of the legendary Abarth version of the classic 1960s Fiat 500 – and to be an everyday performance car – the Abarth is powered by a 1.4-liter 16v turbocharged gasoline engine. It delivers a maximum of 135 hp at 5,500 rpm and peak torque of 152 lb-ft. The unit is linked to a five-speed manual transmission sending power to the 16-inch front rims. Larger wheels are available as an option, along with a host of decals for the roof and body panels. On the show car, red and white graphics were attached down the car’s flanks.

The most obvious change over the standard 500 is the performance bodykit, which helps to make the car a more aerodynamic shape. Inside, the Abarth model gets special instruments, including an analog gauge to measure turbo pressure. An LED light on the dash to tell the driver when to change gear is also fitted for the first time.--Richard Yarrow

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