The skinny on the Motor Trend Fiat 500 Abarth test drive

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The Fiat 500 Abarth scorpion badge.

The only badge the Fiat 500 Abarth needs. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Brian Snelson/Wikipedia)

The 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth has made a big splash, in no small part because of the racy Super Bowl commercial starring striking Romanian-Italian supermodel Catrinel Menghia. Fiat is banking on the tall, small hatchback sending some pulses soaring with its retro styling and spirited engine. Motor Trend took it for a test drive, are here’s a road map of the fine points of this sexy new machine.

Abarth needed an exciting new treatment

With only a tiny 1.4-liter, 100 horsepower engine to work with before, Fiat needed to up the power and make the new Abarth look as hot as an Italian supermodel to get people’s attention. With the new Fiat 500 Abarth, 135 horses running through a newly turbocharged 1.4-liter base engine play “a fruity tune” through twin tailpipes. At 152-lb-ft of torque, the engine isn’t a beast, but it isn’t the 98-pound weakling on the beach. Considering that the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth only weighs 2,200 pounds, its five-speed transmission gets the job done.

Scanning the Abarth

High seats and gearshift styling show off the Abarth as a kind of microvan that uses its available passenger space to maximum effect. With a fine suspension system, the Abarth doesn’t sway very much, and the standard 205/40 17 tires and stiff chassis grip the road and dig out of tight turns better than other the regular Fiat 500.

According to Motor Trend, however, what’s truly special about the Fiat 500 Abarth in this regard is the finesse of the stability control. From power boosts through slight understeer to pullback on oversteer, the driver can feel it working, and it’s quite smooth.

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Egging you on

Beyond the noteworthy stability control, experiencing the 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth comes down to the interior touches. “Huge, race-style seats” and an instrument panel that conveniently combines speed and tachometer needles are nice touches, according to Motors Trend. In low gear, it’s fun to watch the speed chase the revolutions. However, in higher gear, the reverse is true. It’s the kind of visual element that eggs the driver on. Then there’s the boost gauge and gear knob. The new Abarth took this from older Abarth models, and it leaps out of the main dial, large and aluminum. The knob is stylish in stitched leather.

But is it a Fiat? Yes, but the name doesn’t appear on the outside of the car. Only the red and yellow Abarth scorpions are visible. It’s a little car with a sexy sting, in Motor Trend’s estimation.

Catrinel Menghia loves her Fiat 500 Abarth

Sources

Autocar UK

Catrinel Menghia Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catrinel_Menghia

Motor Trend

Roadfly


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