Nissan has Nismo and Mini has John Cooper Works versions of their sub-compact CUVs, so it's only natural that Fiat is playing around with the idea of an Abarth-badged 500X. That's the rationale behind a new report from Autocar, which claims the higher-output CUV is coming in 2017.

It all comes down to growing the Abarth line. Autocar reports that Fiat is very keen on scorpion-badged models. Abarth brand chief Paolo Gagliardo told Automotive News Europe, "We want to keep growing and stabilize at a certain level." We already know that plan requires a 124 Abarth, but it seems impossible to accomplish without Abarth-izing the Fiat with the most mainstream appeal, the 500X.

Increasing performance in the 500X shouldn't be a problem, although it won't be quite as easy here in the US. As AC explains, the Euro-market 500X's 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder only produces 138 horsepower, a figure that would likely be bumped up to 170 hp in an Abarth model. But that same engine makes 160 ponies in the US, and it already coexists with a 180-hp, 2.4-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder. That almost certainly means a US-market 500X Abarth will need much more than the 32-hp bump AC is forecasting.

It's not just competition within the US-market 500X line, though. The new Abarth's chief rivals, the Juke Nismo RS and JCW Countryman both produce in excess of 200 hp. The idea of a 500X Abarth is appealing, but if Fiat expects the CUV to survive in North America – which AC expects to be Fiat's main market – it'll need to take a closer look at how much power is on offer.

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