LA Auto Show 2011: Fiat 500 Abarth in US production trim

Yahoo Autos

Click to view slideshow

Click to view slideshow

Like much of Italy's economy, the Fiat 500 has suffered a lackluster year, with Americans buying less than half of the Cinquecentos Fiat expected to sell and a Jennifer Lopez ad testing the proposition that all publicity is good publicity. Here's the reinforcement arriving in March: the 160-hp turbo Abarth.

The 500 isn't a bad small car, but it's probably a bit too cute to ever be a mainstream vehicle. The Abarth version goes some distance toward putting a scorpion on the 500's face, with a tighter, lowered suspension and upgraded brakes, steering and wheels. The power of 160 hp and 170 lb.-ft. is slightly lower than some Fiat enthusiasts were hoping for, but still enough to make the 2,500-lb. Abarth scoot with some authority.

Fiat didn't release prices, but an affordable and credible sports-flavored 500 could undo some of the damage done by J-Lo's gyrations. If it misses, Fiat troubles could grow; there's only so many chances to fix it again.

View Comments