Fiat 500 Expands (the lineup, not the car)

Gary S. Vasilash

As FIAT brand looks for ways to expand its lineup in the U.S. market in a rather prompt—or perhaps that could be pronto—manner, it has pretty much concentrated on powertrain modifications.

That is, there is the regular Fiat 500, with its 101-hp engine. Then they came out with the Fiat 500 Abarth, which provides 160 hp. Not only are there different flavors of the Cinquecento, but the Abarth variant provides some body kit modifications and other changes, as well.

Last Friday, another 500 was announced, the Fiat 500 Turbo.

2013 Fiat 500 Turbo

“We listened to our customers. The new 500 Turbo is the answer to all the fans that loved the style of our Cinquecento but wanted more power and performance for their daily drive,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of FIAT Brand North America.

More, but not too much.

“With 135 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque, the Fiat 500 Turbo hits the sweet spot between the regular Cinquecento and the high-performance Fiat 500 Abarth,” he noted.

The 500 Turbo has a 1.4-liter MultiAir engine with a single turbocharger, twin intercoolers, and a sport-tuned exhaust. It is mated with a five-speed manual transmission with a 3.35 final-drive gear ratio, which means quick accelerations, which is a hallmark of cars of this size.

Side skirts help accentuate the vehicle’s profile and there’s a liftgate-mounted spoiler to help with aero. There are 16-in. aluminum wheels. The brake calipers (the ventilated front rotors are 11.1 in. in diameter, compared with 10.1 in. on the regular 500) are painted red.

The base MSRP for the Fiat 500 Turbo is $19,500.