Fiat announces 2012 500 Abarth

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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Fiat's 500 debuted in North America in 2010 and provided a dose of Italian flair to the growing Canadian subcompact market. For 2012, Fiat will follow up with the introduction of its sportier 500 Abarth which features its own unique flair.

Abarth, an Italian motorsport company named after Austrian founder Carlo Abarth (born Karl Abarth), is famous as a performance tuner for Fiat automobiles.

Fiat's 2012 500 Abarth comes outfitted with a turbocharged and twin intercooled version of Fiat's 1.4-litre MultiAir engine, generating 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired to a beefed-up 5-speed manual transmission, while stopping duties are taken care of by a modified high-performance brake system with three-mode electronic stability control.

To allow sporty motoring on demand while maintaining maximum efficiency in everyday driving, the 500 Abarth includes a "Sport" setting that induces linear throttle response and a more performance-weighted steering feel. When the Sport setting isn't engaged, the 500 Abarth remains in "Normal" mode, which limits torque output in first and second gear in order to improve fuel efficiency while reducing CO2 emissions.

Outside, the 500 Abarth features a unique front fascia, rear spoiler, unique side skirts and 16-inch cast-aluminum wheels. Optional 17-inch lightweight aluminum wheels are also available. Other eye-catching exterior details include lacquered red brake calipers and iconic Abarth Scorpion badges, used because Carlo Abarth's astrological sign was Scorpio.

Inside, the 500 Abarth features an exclusive analog turbo-boost gauge with an LED shift light to indicate when to switch gears. There are also Abarth-styled front sport seats with contrasting red stitching. A "Blue&Me" handsfree infotainment system co-developed with Microsoft allows drivers to control phone calls and music with voice commands. It supports most mobile phones and Bluetooth technology according to Fiat. The 500 Abarth is also outfitted with a Bose six-speaker Energy Efficient Series (EES) premium audio system complete with subwoofer. On the safety front, the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth features no less than seven airbags, all standard.

"From the outside, the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth is designed with the essence of a pure-Italian performance car – functional, purposeful and high-emotion exterior design enhancements, all stylistically blended to improve aerodynamics, engine cooling and road-holding grip," said Roberto Giolito, head of Fiat and Abarth style. "Inside, we surrounded the driver with a sporty and technical-styled 'cockpit,' encapsulated with the performance equipment and exclusive details to make the 500 Abarth a world-class performance machine."

No official Canadian release date has been announced as yet, but that information will likely be divulged in February if the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth debuts at this year's Canadian International Auto Show starting February 17.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, Fiat, 2012, 500 Abarth, Abarth, Subcompact,

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