2012 Fiat 500 Abarth – Review and Report

By Paul Riegler on 5 September 2012
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Fiat has wasted no time as it re-entered the U.S. marketplace, and this includes bringing us the 500 Abarth. Taking the standard 500, which we reviewed last year (albeit in cabriolet form) and subjecting it to Fiat’s Abarth performance division results in a similarly compact yet potent package.

Abarth, designated on my car with a red and yellow badge overlaid with a black scorpion, can be traced to Italian sports car racing in the 1950s. Carlo Abarth’s company was purchased by Fiat in 1970 and since 2007 has produced performance editions of the Fiat Punto hatch and now the 500.  Previously, the Abarth badge adorned Fiat-based racecars of their own manufacture and aftermarket performance products alike.

Powered by the Abarth-tuned 1.6-liter MultiAir turbocharged four-cylinder, the Abarth develops 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. This represents a significant increase over the standard 500’s 101 horsepower. Considering its size, at $22,000 the Abarth looks to be a promising entry into the performance-oriented compact market.

The U.S. Abarth’s engine differs from the European version.  Not only is it built in Chrysler’s Dundee, Michigan plant but the Euro version only develops 133 hp and lacks the innovative Multiair induction system.

Despite the additional power, EPA fuel economy is 28 mpg (8.4 l/100 km) city and 34 mpg (6.92 l/100 km) highway.


The Fiat 500 Abarth is visually different from other 500s.  It’s noticeably lower, the front fascia has twin inlets for the intercoolers and you can’t miss the wing over the hatch.  My Abarth came in rosso (red), my third red 500 in two years, with a broad white Abarth stripe adorning the rocker panels and very white wheels, two things I probably wouldn’t order were I purchasing the car for myself.

Inside, the seats are similar to the 500 but sportier (more on that in a moment), there’s a nice thick three-spoke leather multifunction steering wheel, and I found a TomTom navi in the glovebox with a dock atop the dash.   Of course, you can’t miss the Abarth scorpion logo.

Click here to continue to Page 2Driving the Abarth and Bottom Line

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