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Review (2/2)

Fiat 500 Abarth: "Small but Wicked"

Source: Fiat | Published: Wed Nov 16, 2011

(continued from the previous page)

Enthusiast-Designed Cockpit

Expanding on the no-nonsense design and high attention to detail found on the 2012 Fiat 500, the new Fiat 500 Abarth features a performance-designed cockpit with unique appointments.

The interior design theme of the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth is an artistic blend of clean lines and functional performance appointments. An Abarth-designed steering wheel features a thick rim, perforated leather and flat bottom to provide the look, feel and increased roominess desired during at-the-limit driving. For easier operation, and to keep the driver's eyes on the road ahead, the Fiat 500 Abarth's steering wheel includes cruise, audio and BLUE&ME Handsfree Communication technology controls.

Behind the steering wheel, the Fiat 500 Abarth features a large concentric instrument cluster with 160-mph speedometer, tachometer and trip computer. For a touch of sophistication, the instrument-panel cluster brow is wrapped in Nero leather with Rosso accent stitching.

Unique to the Fiat 500 Abarth is the addition of an analog turbo-boost gauge with integrated LED shift light in the center that illuminates to optimize gear changes.

Integrating the latest in portable vehicle navigation on top of the instrument panel, the available TomTom navigation with BLUE&ME Handsfree Communication technology features a 4.3-inch touchscreen display.

Below the instrument panel, Abarth-designed aluminum pedal covers feature Nero rubber trim for a decidedly racing look, while the Nero leather shift knob with Rosso accent stitching provides a precise feel of the shifter.

Unique Abarth-styled front performance seats feature a one-piece design with large side bolsters, racing-harness pass through, accent stitching around the perimeter and integrated side-thorax air bags. The Fiat 500 Abarth's rear seat is designed to be comfortable for two adults and delivers the high-quality, comfort and craftsmanship executed on the front seats. To highlight that this hatchback is roomy, the rear passengers' upper seatbacks are raised and bolstered for added back support.

For a contemporary and technical look, the Fiat 500 Abarth features the center stack, radio and climate control system, as well as the headliner and pillars finished in Nero, while the four-passenger seating is available in Nero (cloth or leather) or Rosso/Nero (leather) color combinations.

Track Ready, Precision-Tuned Chassis

The new 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth features an enhanced front- and rear-suspension design to deliver the precision handling, steering and refinement needed for high-performance driving.

Compared with the front-suspension design of the Fiat 500 Sport model, the new 500 Abarth features a unique MacPherson suspension design with a 40 percent stiffer spring rate and 0.6-inch (15 mm) lower ride height for improved handling and minimal body roll. Abarth-designed cast iron front-lower control arms provide improved lateral stiffness, while an increase in negative camber to -1.5 degrees delivers improved grip and steering precision.

New dual-valve Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) KONI front-shock absorbers replace standard twin-tube units and deliver an innovative two-in-one solution. This patented technology provides the road-holding and handling characteristics needed for maximum grip and performance. In addition, the FSD system actively filters out high-frequency suspension inputs from uneven road surfaces and adjusts for improved comfort and smoothness.

The beefier rear-suspension design of the Fiat 500 Abarth takes the Fiat 500 Sport model's (already 300 percent stiffer than the European Fiat 500) twist-beam design further, with a reinforced rear axle with strengthened coil-spring supports for greater durability. A new Abarth-specific rear-stabilizer bar increases cornering grip. For improved handling, minimal body roll and ride-height control (when fully loaded), the new Fiat 500 Abarth features 20 percent stiffer rear springs with 0.6-inch (15 mm) lower ride.

Track-Proven Brake System

The Fiat 500 Abarth features a high-performance brake system with an Abarth-tuned electronic stability control (ESC) system designed for at-the-limit driving.

At the front, the Fiat 500 Abarth features 2.1-inch (54 mm) diameter single-piston front-brake calipers with semi-metallic brake linings for greater stopping power. Larger 11.1-inch (282 mm) (up from 10.1-inch; 257 mm) diameter ventilated rotors provide additional surface-heat dissipation. The 9.4-inch (240 mm) rear disc-brake system features single-piston brake calipers with semi-metallic brake linings to mitigate brake fade at higher temperatures. Both front- and rear-brake calipers are lacquered in Rosso paint for an athletic look.

An Abarth-tuned ESC system features a three-mode calibration to maximize the new 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth's handling capabilities on and off the track. When ESC is selected from "On" to "Partial Off" or "Full Off" on the instrument panel, the 500 Abarth's innovative Torque Transfer Control (TTC) system maximizes throttle performance during on-throttle cornering.

Lightweight Wheels

Standard on the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, 16 x 6.5-inch cast-aluminum wheels feature a race-inspired design and are fitted with 195/45 R16 Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires that deliver all-season traction and low-noise characteristics. These tires are inflated with a higher tire pressure to optimize the 500 Abarth's suspension tuning.

For even more performance, larger and wider 17 x 7-inch wheels are available on the Fiat 500 Abarth. With forged-aluminum construction, these race-inspired wheels keep this Cinquecento lightweight at each corner (18.9 lbs. compared to the standard 16-inch wheels at 18.3 lbs.), while delivering strength and track-tested durability. When equipped with these larger wheels, high-performance three-season Pirelli P-Zero Nero tires feature a 205/40 R17 sizing for a wider stance and a reduced profile for improved handling.

Turbocharged 1.4-Liter Engine

Selected as the "Best International Engine in 2010," by a panel of 72 journalists from 36 countries, the new 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine in the Fiat 500 Abarth is designed to meet the rigorous demands of performance driving throughout its 6,500 rpm range.

Structurally, the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine starts with a cast-iron block and an aluminum bedplate. Bore is 72 mm (2.83 inches) and stroke is 84 mm (3.31 inches) for a total displacement of 1368 ccm (83.5 cu. in.).

Lightweight pistons contribute to the overall strength of the reciprocating assembly and the engine's high rpm capability. Full-floating piston pins are used for added strength. Piston cooling jets, located at the bottom of each cylinder, contribute to fuel economy by squirting oil on the bottom of the pistons to help maintain cylinder temperatures and reduce the possibility of hot spots along the cylinder walls or at the top of the piston that could lead to detonation.

Compression ratio of the Fiat 500 Abarth's 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine is 9.8:1. For optimum fuel economy and performance, fuel with a 91 octane rating is preferred and regular 87 octane is acceptable.

Compared with the Fiat 500's natural-aspirated 1.4-liter MultiAir engine, the boost to an estimated 160 horsepower on the new 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth is largely due to its single turbocharger that operates off engine exhaust and utilizes energy that would normally be wasted through the tailpipe.

The turbocharger spins up to 230,000 rpm to convert exhaust heat and pressure to a rotational force that drives a compressor. The compressor draws cool air and pumps it into the intake manifold at increased pressure that results in a greater amount of air in the cylinder and hence more power.

Transmission and Driveline

Developed by Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT) for high-output applications, the Fiat 500 Abarth is equipped with the heavy-duty C510 five-speed manual transmission. Proven on the European 500 Abarth models, this transmission features a 3.35 final-drive ratio for quick acceleration and faster top speed, while maintaining fuel efficiency.

Designed to handle the increased torque loads, the Fiat 500 Abarth's C510 transmission includes an intermediate shaft with equal-length half shafts to mitigate torque steer. Compared with the Fiat 500, the 500 Abarth features 23 percent larger half shafts (28.1 mm diameter vs. 22.8 mm diameter in the Fiat 500) for increased strength and to reduce torsional stress in the driveline during performance driving on the road or track. To handle the increased power and torque of the new 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine, larger constant velocity (CV) joints with 53 percent greater torsional strength (2600 N.m vs. 1700 N.m in the Fiat 500) deliver added durability and refinement.

Torque Transfer Control (TTC) System

Helping the driver to utilize the power of the new 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine is an Abarth-tuned Torque Transfer Control (TTC) system. TTC is designed to control and transfer the engine's torque to the drive wheels for world-class performance and improved at-the-limit handling.

The TTC system in the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth features a differential locking system that uses the mechanical differential in the C510 transmission to control torque via the electronic stability control (ESC) system. Utilizing ESC enables the 500 Abarth to transfer torque from a front wheel that slips, to one that grips.

In addition, when the Fiat 500 Abarth is in "Sport" mode, TTC automatically adjusts the degree of differential locking depending on dynamic factors, including vehicle speed.

Abarth-Tuned "Sport" Mode

The new 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth features a standard-equipped "Sport" mode calibration for more engaging driving. Should the driver select Sport mode on the instrument panel, the Abarth-tuned powertrain control module (PCM) unleashes the full power of the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo with linear throttle response and a more performance-weighted steering feel.

When Sport mode is not engaged, the Fiat 500 Abarth returns to "Normal" mode, and limits the torque in first and second gears to enhance fuel efficiency and minimize CO2 emissions.

BLUE&ME Handsfree Communication

Developed as a collaboration between FIAT and Microsoft, BLUE&ME Handsfree Communication technology is an in-vehicle, voice-activated communication system that allows the Fiat 500 Abarth driver to operate a Bluetooth-compatible phone while keeping his or her hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Using a series of voice commands, the driver can place phone calls, access the phone's address book or listen to MP3s. BLUE&ME Handsfree Communication technology supports most mobile phones with Bluetooth technology.

Bose Premium Audio System

For high-performance sound, the 500 Abarth features a standard Bose Energy Efficient Series (EES) premium audio system with six premium speakers and a subwoofer.

SiriusXM Satellite Radio

For the best music, entertainment and information from coast-to-coast, SiriusXM Satellite Radio with more than 130 channels is available on the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth.

Fiat 500 Abarth: Photo Gallery, Review (1/2) and Specifications

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