You might be forgiven for thinking that both of Fiat's Los Angeles Auto Show cars were already official: the 500L was all but confirmed for the U.S. market after its Geneva 2012 debut in March, and we've been reporting about the existence of a 500C Abarth for almost as long. Still, the droptop Abarth and stretched 500 are on display for the first time on American soil.
The 500C Abarth could basically write its own story: it's a Fiat 500 Abarth from the beltline down, and a Fiat 500C from the beltline up. The Abarth's performance modifications all make it to the 500C, including the turbocharged MultiAir engine making 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque (in sport mode), an upgraded five-speed manual transmission, and all manner of tweaks and upgrades to the car's wheels, suspension, and steering.
While the Abarth's exhaust note is already quite vocal, 500C Abarth drivers and passengers will be able to hear it all the better without a roof. The 500C Abarth's convertible top (an oversized fabric sunroof, if you will) can retract to a halfway point behind the cabin at speeds of up to 60 mph, and into the fully retracted position (tucked behind the rear head restraints) at up to 50 mph.
If the thought of a 160-hp Fiat 500 sounds enticing but you'd also like to carry five passengers with more space, Fiat has something else on the LA stand: the 500L, which made its U.S.-market debut today (it's long been confirmed to come here).
The 500L is built on something called the "small-wide" architecture, code for "stretched Fiat 500." The 500L stretches 26 inches longer, six inches taller, and six inches wider than the standard hatchback, and reportedly offers 42 percent more interior space.
More space and an increased footprint means that the stock 500's 100-hp I-4 likely wouldn't cut the mustard in U.S. markets (although E.U.-spec models offer both that and the TwinAir turbocharged I-2), so Fiat engineers dropped in the running gear from the current Dodge Dart. That includes Fiat's 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4 making 160 hp and 184 lb-ft, which is mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed dual dry-clutch transmission (DDCT). Power is still sent to the front wheels.
On the inside, the 500L boasts a number of new-to-Fiat features like uConnect infotainment (available with either a 5.0-inch or 6.5-inch touchscreen), a dual-pane panoramic sunroof (which Fiat says is the largest in its class), and in-dash navigation (a dealer-activated option). Just how many of those options end up on your 500L depends on which trim level you choose: the U.S.-market 500L will be offered in Pop, Easy, and Lounge models, and the LA Auto Show marks the world debut of the new Trekking model, which adds a two-tone interior and special front and rear fascias, as well as special 17-inch aluminum wheels in hopes of making the chic 500L look a bit more butch.
The 500L will go on sale in the middle of next year as a 2014 model.