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2012 Fiat 500 Abarth debut (photos)

Fiat's high-performance variant of the 500 compact finally reaches the U.S. market with its award-winning 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine under the hood.

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Antuan Goodwin
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This little badge means the difference between a cute little city car and a hot, grin-inducing sport compact.
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I don't know if I'd go so far as to call the 500 Abarth "an exclusive Italian exotic" like Fiat does in its release, but my interest is piqued by this performance variant.
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The action starts here with the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine. Power is rated at 160 ponies, up substantially from the standard 500's 101 horsepower.
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Next up, the Abarth gets a sport-tuned suspension and upgraded brakes.
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The Abarth namesake does have a racing pedigree dating back to the 1950s.
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A five-speed manual gearbox is the only way to change gears on the 500 Abarth, and rightly so. In addition to the beefed-up "heavy-duty" gearbox, the Abarth also features upgraded drivetrain components to deal with the increased demands of performance driving.
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A quicker steering ratio, beefier suspension components, and wider tires contribute to the Abarth's nimbler handling.
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The cabin is still standard, low-tech 500 fare, but Fiat's Blue&Me system by Microsoft does bring voice-command hands-free calling and USB/iPod connectivity to the dashboard.
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Abarth-styled front performance seats feature a one-piece design with large side bolsters and a racing-harness pass-through.
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The Fiat 500 Abarth's speedometer now reads up to 160 mph (although you'll likely never actually see it indicate such) and the instrumentation features an analog turbo-boost gauge with an integrated LED shift light.
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The standard 500's cabin was fairly driver-oriented and the 500 Abarth is even more so.
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The 500 Abarth features a dual exhaust system with a concentric dual-tip design that Fiat says enhances the exhaust note.
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Check out our full review of the standard Fiat 500C for an idea of what to expect when the Abarth version hits the Car Tech garage.

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