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2019 fiat 500 Abarth

Those who enjoy the style of the Fiat 500 but want increased power and more precise handling should look no further than the Abarth model.

Born on the track

To create the sportiest of 500s, Fiat paid a great deal of attention to the minicar's suspension: the front and rear springs are stiffer than the standard 500's and the ride height is lower. The front brakes are bigger, too. The result of all the changes is a car that turns in more eagerly, corners with a minimum of body roll and stops with authority.

The 500 Abarth uses a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque when it's bolted to a five-speed manual transmission. Selecting the optional six-speed automatic yields 157 horses and 183 pound-feet of twist. Front-wheel drive is the only configuration offered.

Fuel economy checks in at 28 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 30 mpg in a combined cycle for the five-speed manual. The automatic returns 24, 32, and 27.

Overview

Helping the 500 Abarth look the part is a meaner front fascia with dual "nostrils" designed to maximize airflow in and out of twin intercoolers, unique 16-inch wheels (17-inchers are optional), special Abarth badging and a dual-exhaust setup. Around back, the car gets aerodynamic enhancements like a rear spoiler and diffuser.

Inside, the steering wheel is a thick-rimmed, flat bottom Abarth unit with perforated leather trim. Racy touches include aluminum pedals, a black leather-trimmed shift knob and a unique analog turbo-boost gauge with LED shift lights that illuminate during gear changes. Both the front and rear seats feature additional bolstering to keep everyone in place during spirited drives.

The options list includes a Safety and Convenience package that bundles automatic climate control, satellite radio and a security alarm.

Occupant safety

In addition to seven airbags, the 500 Abarth comes with smart pedals that move out of the way during a collision to better protect the driver's feet and legs. Traction and stability control systems are also fitted as standard, as is a tire pressure monitoring system.

Key competitors

Alternatives to the 500 Abarth include larger and more powerful (but more expensive) models like the Mini Hardtop Cooper S and the Volkswagen GTI.