The base Fiat 500 offers an economical ride with a bit of Italian flair, but the Abarth version kicks up the power considerably.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

The power increase comes through a turbocharger added to the engine, and is accompanied by a notable loudness boost, as well.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

Fiat gives the 500 Abarth suspension tuning to make it handle better, but the car's height makes it feels a little on-the-edge.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

The result of increased power and suspension tuning is a crazy little car that will frequently spike your adrenaline.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

The Abarth name and scorpion badge go back to a company founded by Carlo Abarth in 1949, which designed sport upgrades for production cars.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

Body work sees few changes for the 500 Abarth, and retains the high roofline. That height is great for passenger headroom, but negatively impacts handling.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

Optional 17-inch wheels pack Pirelli P-Zero Nero tires, wider than the tires found on a stock Fiat 500.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

At the heart of the 500 Abarth is this turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which manages 160 horsepower and 183 pound-feet of torque.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

Contributing to the 500 Abarth's edgy handling, the weight distribution is far from balanced, with 64 percent over the front axle.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

Overall curb weight is just 2,512 pounds, making the car a featherweight in the industry.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

The 500 Abarth can be a lot of fun, but it's going to be in the slower groups at track days.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

Carried over from the standard 500, this hatch offers a fair amount of practicality.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

Sport seats come as part of the Abarth trim.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

As a two-door, getting into the rear seats involves a little bit of squeezing, but the head and legroom in back is not terrible.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

A nice body-color panel runs across the dashboard.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow
Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow
Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow
Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow
Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow
Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow
Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow
Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow
Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow
Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow
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