In an era when spy shots of upcoming vehicles weren’t plastered across Google Image search results and preliminary specifactions failed to grab the attention of blogosphere comment sections, Fiat, the Italian Automobile Factory of Torino, manufactured the 500. Between 1957 and 1975, the diminutive 500 was equipped with similarly diminutive engines. Generally, with capacities under 1 litre, the 500 wasn’t fast but was driven on Italian highways and village roads as though it was Ferrari-like in its ability.
There’s a new Fiat 500 now. Fiat calls it “bumper-to-bumper cool”. At first glance you will assume the new 500 is a retro imitation of the original, but in size alone, the new 500 clearly diverts. Fiat has extended the length of the modern 500 by nearly two feet, in part to deal with current safety regulations.
While still inexpensive, the Fiat 500 caters slightly to the premium small-car buying crowd that loves the Mini Cooper. Fiat’s Panda, the car on which the 500 is based, is left to mop up the truly economical segment. Times are moving quickly in Turin, however, and even the new 500 is moving on. For a better understanding, take a look at the evolution of the Nuova 500.
FIAT TREPIUNO CONCEPT: Technologically advanced in a way that couldn’t lead anyone to believe Fiat was aiming for the bargain basement with the modern incarnation of the 500.
FIAT 500: Maximum horsepower sits at 100bhp from a 1.4L, but if you can make it under the bar, one can go as low as a 69bhp 1.2L.
FIAT 500 ABARTH: Bumping horsepower up 35% is nothing to sneeze at, even if 135bhp sounds small. Abarth is now to Fiat what AMG is to Mercedes-Benz.
FIAT 500 ABARTH ESSEESSE: If Abarth is the equivalent of AMG, the esseesse is the equivalent of the AMG Black series. Its kit will hit your dealer in a famous Abarth box with perforated and ventilated front brake discs; lowering springs; and white or titanium wheels. Oh, and 160 horsepower. The Fiat 500 Abarth esseesse should be able to top 130mph.
FIAT 500 ABARTH ASSETTO CORSE: 49 examples of the Assetto Corse will be built for track users. Ultra-light racing wheels are just one of multiple weight-saving measures that stripped away 180kg (396 lbs). Owners also receive their own Assetto Corse overalls, helmets, gloves, and shoes.