When is a turbocharged Fiat 500 not an Abarth? When it’s the new 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo, of course.
Fiat formally revealed the latest addendum to the North American 500 lineup this morning at the Concorso Italiano show in Monterey, California, but the move doesn’t exactly come as a complete surprise. Back in may Chrysler documentation submitted to the EPA hinted at a forthcoming “500T Sport” model.
So, what exactly is a 500 Turbo? Fiat brand leader Tim Kuniskis says it’s the “perfect canvas for customization” that 500 customers have been asking for. If that’s the case, apparently Cinquecentophiles have been asking for a less aggressive (and expensive) 500 Abarth, or a 500 Sport with some very Abarth-like attributes.
Let’s start with that engine: much like the Abarth, the 2013 500 Turbo makes use of a turbocharged 1.4-liter I-4 with Fiat’s Multiair valve actuation technology. The difference between those models lies with output: U.S.-spec Abarths produce 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque, while 500 Turbos serve up 135 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. Interestingly, the 500 Turbo’s calibration nearly mirrors that of 500 Abarths sold in European markets.
To handle that extra dollop of power, the 500 Turbo receives upgraded CV joints and thicker half-shafts, while the five-speed manual transaxle – the only transmission available on the 500 Turbo, it should be noted – receives a few tweaked gear ratios and a new 3.35:1 final drive ratio. 500 Turbos do without the Abarth’s trick electrically-controlled limited-slip diff, but they do gain the Abarth’s enlarged 11.1-inch front brake rotors. Turbos also gain unique front lower control arms, though other suspension components – notably the springs, dampers, and steering – are cribbed from non-turbocharged 500 Sport models.
Cosmetically, the 500 Turbo continues to play the 500 Sport/Abarth mash-up game. Turbos roll on the 500 Sport’s stock 16-inch aluminum wheels, but use the Abarth’s front fascia, side sills, rear spoiler, and rear diffuser. Black-finish headlamp and taillamp assemblies – much like those used on the Mopar-fettled 500 Stinger – are also thrown into the mix, along with a “sport-tuned exhaust.” We can only hope it sounds as menacing as that on the 500 Abarth.
Buyers can order their 2013 500 Turbo in one of seven exterior colors (white, silver, gray, black, red, copper, and blue-green); cloth seating is available only in a grey/black combination, but optional leather seats are offered in both a red/black and an all-black scheme.
Predictably, pricing for the 2013 500 Turbo splits the difference between the $18,200 Fiat 500 Sport and the $22,700 Fiat 500 Abarth. Chrysler says the Turbo carries a base price of $20,200, including $700 in destination fees. Expect the 500 Turbo to arrive in Fiat showrooms – er, studios – this fall.