Fiat 500 Abarth EsseEsse – Click above for high-res image gallery

With every passing week comes another report of how Fiat and Chrysler will be sharing products. If it's not Chrysler-badged Lancias then it's Lancia-badged Chryslers or an Alfa-badged Jeep. As for the Fiat division itself, the emerging strategy appears to be to bring the 500 retro-mini over and set it up as something of a brand of its own, with sights set squarely on BMW's Mini and forgoing the rest of the Fiat line-up.

Earlier reports indicated that we'd be getting four versions of the 500 Stateside, including basic hatch, cabrio and upcoming wagon in addition to the Abarth performance model. But rather than start with the basics and work its way up, or launch the entire range simultaneously, the latest news suggests that Fiat is preparing to hit U.S. soil running by starting off with the 500 Abarth. According to WardsAuto, the Fiat 500 Abarth – complete with 133-horsepower turbocharged four, upgraded suspension and all the sporty touches that make an Abarth an Abarth – will arrive at Chrysler dealers in 2011 with an $18,000-$19,000 price tag. Fiat reportedly targets selling 20,000-25,000 units of the 500 Abarth in the first year.

By the time the 500 Abarth arrives, we'll likely be looking at an updated version with even more oomph. With the standard hatch, the open-top 500C and the upcoming Gardiniera wagon expected to follow, there's no telling if the initial model will be the only Abarth on offer, or whether Fiat will follow up with the even hotter EsseEsse version (pictured above), racing models like the Assetto Corse or R3T, an Abarth convertible or specials like the 695 Tributo Ferrari or an Opening Edition of our own.


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