Joe Grace, Fiat Vehicle Line Executive, swung by Jay Leno's garage with the brand's new 500 Abarth for a little history lesson and a quick walk around. Here in the States, it's easy to forget that Karl Abarth, the man behind the Fiat tuning division, was as driven as they come when pushing the performance envelope. Abarth got his start racing motorcycles before turning his eye to four-wheeled prototypes and aftermarket performance, and his list of lifelong achievements is as lengthy as it is varied. Abarth was our kind of guy.

Grace took the time to show Leno exactly what makes the 500 Abarth so different from the comedian's own pint-sized hatchback, including its turbocharged, 1.4-liter four-cylinder good for 160 horsepower, along with its unique aesthetics and performance-oriented suspension and exhaust. Is the 500 Abarth cool? Sure. Is it as cool as Karl Abarth racing a steam locomotive with a sidecar motorcycle? We think not. Hit the jump to check the video for yourself.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 64 Comments
      dan1malk
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hmm, this or that brz?? I'm sure the brz will drive better, but the Abarth is WAY further up the cool wall. Tough decision.
        Nathan Loiselle
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dan1malk
        I'd rather have this over the BRZ any day. It has the zany craziness that small hard-top cars should have. The BRZ has a wonderful weight that shows it's frame and drivetrain were built first instead of second, to an image, but it didn't need the tricked suspension in the front that's received complaints of pitching on rough roads. The engine isn't as good as it could be as well as a transmission that is going to be seriously wanting in a year or two. The back seat is but an after thought that shouldn't be there and it looks the part. Finally, the body screams Toyota and Subaru should have put more energy into creating a body that stands out as Subaru much more. Compared to the Abarth 500, the BRZ just doesn't cut it. The Abarth is simply the DB9 of cheap coupes.
        flammablewater
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dan1malk
        It's looking like that decision for me as well. Also the turbo Veloster if it sees the light of day (shut up about the styling, I like it dammit!).
        Anthony
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dan1malk
        Ha. I have deposits on the first Abarth 500 AND Scion FR-S at my local dealers. I love the FIAT, but I think the rear wheel drive of the FR-S will keep me satisfied for longer.
        POV
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dan1malk
        @Anthony. Lucky! You do have a good point about the Scion being rear wheel drive. I was going to counter with the 500 Abarth being lighter and thus more tossable but they could be pretty close in weight?
          dan1malk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @POV
          That Abarth DOES have 20 lb ft of torque on that Subaru.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Jeremy Pennini
        • 3 Years Ago
        http://www.autoblog.com/2011/11/16/2012-fiat-500-abarth-brings-accessible-italian-performance-to-am/
        POV
        • 3 Years Ago
        They haven't brought it stateside yet but ok, fair enough, they have flown to other countries to review (first drive?) cars.
      Andrew
      • 3 Years Ago
      They willl never sell Arbath in the USA
        untitledfolder
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Andrew
        Yah, probably not sell "arbath" or whatever that is... but "Abarth" is confirmed. As in... it's already been verified coming to U.S. next year...
        Ryan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Andrew
        1) Learn how to spell the word Abarth. 2) I'm planning on buying one. That'll be one that they most certainly will sell, so never say never.
        Jeremy Pennini
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Andrew
        The Abarth is coming to the US in spring 2012. 160HP/170TQ, 5-speed manual.
        lorenzo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Andrew
        Ignore Adnrew
        gtv4rudy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Andrew
        Andrew, can I borrow your crystal ball?
      POV
      • 3 Years Ago
      Jay makes a great point about how he can redline the 500 on the streets but if he did that with the McLaren F1 he would be arrested. It illustrates perfectly how you can still have a blast with an "underpowered" car if it has a good engine and handles well. I'm so sick of people putting down cars for their lack of engine power esp. as of late with the Subaru BRZ, the Toyota GT 86 and the Fiat 500. The only part missing from this great video is him "taking it out for a spin" but I trust him to do that later.
      kramrenka
      • 3 Years Ago
      See this should have been how the 500 was sold. Not with that HAS-BEEN from the BRONX
        Prince David
        • 3 Years Ago
        @kramrenka
        I dunno the commercial makes it look like a nice little luxury car. Performance models never come out before the base model.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @kramrenka
        [blocked]
      sinistro79
      • 3 Years Ago
      Excellent car. My only qualm with this is that the old 500 was a rear engined car...which made them infinitely better performers than the Mini Coopers in the old days. Putting the engine in the front drops the new 500 down a notch and cuts the edge off of it's competitiveness a little. Still, this looks like it will be a much more dynamic experience than what you get in a Mini. The performance output is more proper in the Fiat and they have always been more credible machines. The Abarth will be the ultimate hot hatch from Europe when it comes to the USA. Now when is Alfa coming???
        Quen47
        • 3 Years Ago
        @sinistro79
        @Dick Trickle- They are not the same size. A Mini is about 6 inches longer, which is pretty significant. Moreover, a 500 Sport costs $4-5000 less than a Mini comparably equipped. Sure it has a more sophisticated chassis and suspension- it damn well should!
          Dick Trickle
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Quen47
          You should go look up the specs, but I will do it for you. 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, 144.4" long 2012 Mini S 146.2" long, 2006 Mini S 143.9" long. The Fiat is a whopping 1.8" shorter than the current Mini, and 0.5" longer than a first gen Mini.
      lorenzo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I do like how they used Jays show as a platform to run that pretty detailed mini-documentary on Carlo, had alot of good info and nicely edited. Releasing that is a good thing to do for the US market, so the A word means something around here....
      cooter
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's weird because he talks like he drove the car but you can sort of tell he didn't drive it.
        Camaroman101
        • 3 Years Ago
        @cooter
        he's talking about how much fun his 500 is to drive, not the Abarth
      Sukairain
      • 3 Years Ago
      Jay was shocked when he found J-Lo tied up and gagged in the trunk. The Fiat Mafia was not pleased with her performance.
      hadji murad
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've heard 500s aren't selling well, but I've seen a ton of them around town in Orlando. I love it, but not sure if the wife wants to give up her SUV (sad face).
        Max Power
        • 3 Years Ago
        @hadji murad
        They are not selling well only because they are well below Chrysler's insane expectation of the car right off the bat. 50,000 cars in the first year was not very well thought out with a car that did not have a dealer network established until well after the first of the year, a brand that either most people don't know or that has VERY negative conotations of, and a niche car with only one version available at launch. The MINI on the other hand did not have the ambitious sales expectations at first and also had the 'S' model available at the launch. If I am not mistaken, the first year sales figures are about the same for both the MINI and the Fiat. Ironically enough while Fiat in the past had gotten bad press (and deservedly so) in the US for the cars themselves, now it is getting bad press due to the sales goals not being met, the derided JLo commercials (personally, I do not think they are as bad as most people do), and the stuff that went on in the filming of those commercials. My 84 year old dad just took delivery of a base 500 in October and he loves it calling it the best car he has ever owned (he traded in his 2002 Civic Si) and I have to admit it really is an impressive little car. The Abarth is VERY appealing here...
          Rick C.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Max Power
          Exactly. What idiot marketing department fool made that claim of 50,000 in sales the first year? No advertising, no dealers until almost 1/3 into 2011. Fired!
        • 3 Years Ago
        @hadji murad
        [blocked]
      Travis C. Vasconcelo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can't wait to see these on the roads! They are gonna be phenomenal machines.
        POV
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Travis C. Vasconcelo
        Yep. I've been seeing the 500s here in San Francisco and they look even better in person but the Abarth... that's going to be a league apart!
        POV
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Travis C. Vasconcelo
        Yep. I've seen quite a few 500s in San Francisco (Red is the best hands down) but the Abarth is going to be in a league of its own. For reference: http://www.autoblog.com/photos/2012-fiat-500-abarth-0/#photo-4607148/
        POV
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Travis C. Vasconcelo
        Haha wow, triple post... I had a suspicion the commenting system would do that. Dear Autoblog, the commenting system sometimes doesn't show the initial post and sometimes when I click on the "load more comments" or "x replies to y" it takes me back to the top of the article and doesn't show what I posted. That's messed up and Autoblog should escalate to whoever runs the commenting system to fix the gd problem. I still love you Autoblog, my #1 go to site for automobiles. :)
        POV
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Travis C. Vasconcelo
        Yep. I've seen quite a few 500s in San Francisco (Red is the best hands down) but the Abarth is going to be in a league of its own. For reference: http://www.autoblog.com/photos/2012-fiat-500-abarth-0/#photo-4607148/
        Peter T
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Travis C. Vasconcelo
        yeah me too! oh wait....
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