There's a grand tradition to mid-engined hatchbacks that blend exotic layout with utilitarian bodystyle, and as promised, that tradition has now embodied itself in the Fiat 500.
Developed by Lucarelli Monza – a new tuning house eager to make its mark – the Abarth 500 Motore Centrale is a substantial re-engineering of the Italian retro hatch. The engine has been moved – apparently to a glass display case – in the rear, and extensively modified in the process. With a new turbocharger and intercooler, new catalytic converter and pistons, the 1.4-liter turbo four now drives 230 metric horsepower to the rear wheels, aided by an electronic limited-slip differential.
While the front MacPherson struts have been left intact, a new wishbone suspension has been crafted for the rear, joined by upgraded brakes with four-pot calipers all around and some revised bodywork with ducting fitted to help keep the engine cool in its new orientation. Aznom, meanwhile, has been brought on board strictly to outfit the interior with Poltrona Frau leather and Alcantara.
The road-going R230 is quoted for a 4.7-second sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph) and a 240 km/h (150 mph) top end. An R280 Pista version is also available with an extra 50 horses and 220 fewer pounds, plus a mechanical diff, full roll cage, adjustable suspension and data recorder, dropping its sprint down to 3.9 seconds and raising its top end up to 260 km/h (160 mph). No word on pricing, but you can bet that getting a budget hatchback to reach those kinds of numbers isn't a cheap proposition.
Have a closer look in the gallery below, and follow the jump to see and hear the pocket rocket zipping around the streets of Monte Carlo thanks to Marco at Marchettino. Thanks to all for the tips!