If the classic looks of the Fiat 500 could be compared with a Fellini movie, then the Abarth version is a Spaghetti Western. Where the 500 introduced last year was all about economy and design, the Abarth adds that missing ingredient: driving fun.
To build the U.S. version of the Fiat 500 Abarth, Chrysler's performance team installed a Honeywell turbocharger, lowered the gear ratios, and tuned the suspension. Along the way the team ratcheted up the exhaust note to announce the little car's presence.
This work resulted in a car made for the winding road. Despite a high roofline, it stays flat in the turns and welcomes trail-braking. The turbocharger brought the horsepower up from 101 to 160, a huge jump but absolutely enjoyable, the manual gearbox allowing redline antics.
As for useful features such as a Bluetooth phone system and stereo, the interface would render these almost unusable if it was not for the excellent job integrating the optional TomTom navigation system.