By on August 17, 2012

Here it is, the Fiat 500 Turbo that’s long been rumored. The Turbo uses a detuned version of the Abarth motor, good for 135 horsepower and 150 lb-ft. The sole transmission is a 5-speed manual, and there’s a tweaked chassis to go along with it. The Turbo also gets the same front end as the Abarth, but the more mild visual treatments of the standard car – all for $19, 500 (plus $700 destination).

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67 Comments on “2013 Fiat 500 Turbo Revealed...”


  • avatar
    inddirect

    Just what the Sinky needs, in my opinion. Even in staid old Victoria, you need enough guts for a hwy merge once in a while – and the basic Fiat is just a Chevette with round headlights and airbags.

    • 0 avatar
      dejal1

      Hardly. The base 500 is about as fast as a 82 Camaro Z28

      C+D test Fiat 500 sport long 0-60 9.9 sec

      http://www.0-60times.com/chevrolet.asp
      1982 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 0-60 mph: 9.7 seconds

      As for the Chevette

      http://www.automobile-catalog.com/make/chevrolet_usa/chevette_chevrolet/chevette_chevrolet_3-door/1982.html

      Chevy Chevette Scooter 0-60 14 and change
      Chevy Chevette 1.6 5 speed 0-60 14.5
      Chevy Chevette 1.6 Automatic 0-60 16.6
      Chevy Chevette Diesel Automatic 0-60 21.8

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        Perhaps he meant it is the Chevette of our day?

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        Diesel Chevettes! I had no idea there was such a thing! In an alternative universe perhaps the diesel Chevette would have become a cult car and every time a new car comes out, legions of diesel Chevettes fans would chime in and say “but I’d rather stick with my diesel Chevette wagon with the 4 speed stick shift!”

      • 0 avatar
        daiheadjai

        The problem is that a Camry V6 hits 0-60 in the 5s now…
        Which means the flow of traffic has gotten significantly faster too

      • 0 avatar
        dejal1

        “The problem is that a Camry V6 hits 0-60 in the 5s now…
        Which means the flow of traffic has gotten significantly faster too”

        The flow of traffic is a steady speed. Once you are at that speed it doesn’t matter if it took you 5 seconds or 5 minutes.

        The 911 traveling at 65 MPH and the 74 VW Beetle traveling 65 MPH are in the flow, and has no effect on my putting the hammer down in the on ramp trying to merge into traffic.

        If the 5.X second Camry is on the on-ramp in front of me, no big deal. If behind me, they can go screw and will have to wait for with my 9.9 0-60 car to merge. The fact that have to merge at my speed isn’t going to make their merging a hazard.

        If anything, I’ve always found issues with merging where I’m at speed in the on-ramp and someone on the highway in the slow lane is going slower than the speed limit.

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        Flow of traffic has increased. Cars have become more powerful, speed limits have increased from 55 to 65 to 70, and crusing along at 75-80mph is the norm when not in gridlock. So a car today needs to be faster to merge safely, and needs to be able to cruise at higher speeds.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The lunatic traffic calmers of California have placed stop signals on freeway entrance ramps to hinder commuters, waste time, waste gas, increase pollution, and kill people. Around here, one really does need a car that can go from 0-70 in a few hundred feet if they want to use the 5 freeway at peak hours.

      • 0 avatar
        Bill Wade

        I remember working in a garage and a diesel Chevette got stuck trying to climb up the oil rack ramps. We had to push it up since it couldn’t do it under it’s own power unless you gave a run at it.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “Around here, one really does need a car that can go from 0-70 in a few hundred feet if they want to use the 5 freeway at peak hours.”

        From what I remember of the 5 at peak rush hour you could probably safely merge and keep up with traffic in a hoveround. Maybe things are better now.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        When the backups happen, it is because someone didn’t have 200hp/ton and they were flattened by a semi when they reached the end of the ramp.

      • 0 avatar
        inddirect

        OK. 9.9 is less than 14, fair enough – but I had an 82 Volvo GLT non-turbo back in the 80s that could hit 60 in 9.8, and my one-time 1975 Honda Civic (1200 cc, four speed) felt quicker than the Sinky. So the Sinky seems like today’s slow-poke. That said, the Mazda 2 seems pokey, too.

    • 0 avatar

      The base 500 is plenty powerful for me. This car is not about high speed driving. It’s more about enjoying. And enjoy it I do.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      I don’t know about I-5 in California but up here in Washington State at rush hour, I-5 barely moves. A Vespa would have no problems merging onto the freeway when traffic is going 10-15 miles per hour.

      We have plenty of Priuses up here thanks to all the self-righteous greenies, and they seem to get onto the freeway alright, and those things are slower than non-turbo Fiat 500s.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      I had an NA toyota previa and that’s a slow car – never had a moment’s problem getting on a highway or keeping up with traffic. The real world is different than a test track.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        By far and away, the most limiting factor for me on onramps is the dimwit who always somehow ends up in front of me, who ambles up the ramp, brakes for the mild bend near the top, “merges” going about 50, and then spends the next couple of miles wandering up to freeway speed.

        I usually end up laying back about half the ramp lenght, and then using that to get up to speed once they’re far enough ahead.

        I spent 12 years with a 95hp Suzuki Sidekick as my daily driver, and never had any problem reaching the posted limit on any but the absolutely shortest of ramps.

  • avatar
    18726543

    I have been seeing these 500s more and more and I like the way they look less and less. A little while ago my mind began associating their shape with that of a giant pimple (I think because of the aggressive forward slant of the rear hatch) and now thats all I can think of whenever I see one!

  • avatar
    Boff

    I wouldn’t have thought there was much point for this car, until I drove an Abarth recently. Compared to the delightful (but slow) regular 500 that I own, the Abarth was too loud, hard, and clunky, the seats were inferior, and a certain playfulness and friendliness was sacrificed. The Abarth is kinda garish, as well. The 500 Turbo might hit the sweet spot, indeed…although its existence will cause the resale value of my car to crater.

  • avatar
    moorewr

    A very smart move by Fiat. They can follow up with an automatic version of this and capture the sales they are declining from lazy-left foot buyers who would otherwise buy Abarths.

    I bet Europeans hope this engine ends up in the base Euro-spec Abarth.

  • avatar
    raded

    So we’re going to have the 500, 500c, 500 Abarth, and now 500 Turbo? Base model has 4 trim levels, 500c has 3. 500 Turbo will probably have 2-3 trim levels. Have to assume it’ll come in cabrio flavor too. This seems like way too many engines and trim levels for a low volume subcompact. I know it’s basically a fashion accessory but I can’t see how this is going to work out for Fiat.

    • 0 avatar
      moorewr

      You forgot the 500L and 500XL in your list.

      They sorely need other Fiats to sell than 500s. (I vote Puntos and Pandas). More to the point those dealerships desperately need Alfas to survive. Why aren’t the Alfas here?

    • 0 avatar

      You forget that they’re all basically the same car, so the variations don’t cost that much. Plus, theyre sold in different markets that lap all the versions available. In this case, all the variations mean bigger sales. So, all good.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        If by bigger sales you mean a lot of tiny sales figures added up into one SUPER SALES FIGURE then yes, bigger sales it is, then!

      • 0 avatar

        Tiny sales, good margins, markets the world over…Handsome profits! And that’s what it’s all about.

      • 0 avatar
        raded

        I agree that the variations make for bigger sales, but there’s decreasing marginal gain in sales for each variation added. I’m also speaking specifically for the US market, where Fiat needs to tweak the 500 a fair amount just to meet America’s anti-tiny-hatchback safety regulations. There’s a reason why Japan is great at high volume cars in the $20,000 and below range. Keep the model as consistent as possible, eliminate low volume and/or unprofitable variations, and keep the price low. I have to think that they could axe a few variations and drop the price.

      • 0 avatar

        Totally agree Raded. But the margin on this car is pretty healthy. Keeping price low is not the name of the game here. That’s where the Punto and Panda come in. They live off of high volume. The 500 not so much.

        Also, keep in mind that the car is produced in Mexico and sold all over all the Americas. I guess that 500 sales in the US are but 50% of total sales once you add up sales in North, South and Central America. We can thank the US though that the car is safer for our benefit, too.

        Edit: Come to think of it, by Derek’s reporting of its success in Canada, not to mention its hit in Brazil, I wouldn’t be surprised if American sales amount to no more than 40% of sales in all the Americas.

      • 0 avatar
        abgwin

        Except that the US 500 is on an entirely different platform that actually meets US crash standards. That platform is being retro-fit into the Euro 500, but the Punto, Panda, etc, can not meet US standards as is.
        And why should they spend the money on aging cars to bring ‘em here? The 500L is the next US-bound Fiat, but don’t count on the 500XL.
        The Dart picks up where 500L leaves off, Alfa will eventually pick up where Dodge/Chrysler range tops out, and Maserati is coming down market to pick up where Alfa ends.

      • 0 avatar

        abgwin:

        I was speaking from a world POv. And you’re right, this generation Punto will not make it to US, but Panda just might. There were many changes to make 500 US-road worthy but not a new platform. In the case of 500, I guess it was doable ’cause the margins are there (again not even considering that the 500 is sold in all markets in the Americas supplied by plant in Mexico) and so is the volume.

        Watch Canada. Due to its better penetration there, I’m thinking that Canada will be a testing ground for future North American Fiats. If they make it in Canada, they could eventually make it in US.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @abgwin, there are many differences o meet US standards and market expectations, sure, but it’s still on the same Fiat Mini platform, same as Panda Mk2/Mk3, Ford Ka and Lancia Ypsilon.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      So you’re saying the car is a reflection of, and an extension of, the owner’s self image. This is shocking – shocking.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Mmmm- seems like they purposely ‘detuned’ it in order to avoid cannibalizing the (undoubtedly higher margin) Abarth sales. I wonder what was done to detune it? Just a lower boost? Could a chip reflash bring back the ‘tune’?
    The 160hp 1.4T engine found in the Abarth, will also be in the Dodge Dart- so this is a mill that is produced in high volumes. It would make no sense for them to specially create a 135hp version produced in low volumes, which is physically different from the high volume model.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      With the difference being a good 25hp, I’m pretty sure that they did more than an ECU tweak. They may have use a smaller turbo and tuned it to run on regular gas.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        25 hp is easy to achieve with ECU tuning. The VW/Audi 1.8T engine was rated at 150, 160, 170, 180, 190 and 200 hp in various applications, all with the same turbo.

      • 0 avatar
        Mzdaspd304

        +1

        Agreed. 25HP is easy to gain on tuning an ECU, I know, I’ve done it on my 04 Mazda 3. I have dyno’s to prove it as well.

        I was rated at 150HP on the 2.0L. I’m now hitting 177HP

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Dosen’t VWAudi tune their cars to work better with different countries emissionsgrades of fuel?

        I’m not much of an ECU tuner so I don’t know much about it, nor am I that interested. I just want to figure out the point of the Fiat 500 Turbo.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        That’s possible. Except a small turbo is not significantly cheaper than a larger turbo. So the cost savings is very small- vs the additional cost of stocking an extra part number.

        It would be funny if the two engines turn out to be identical. Nissan did that a few years back with the Maxima and the Altima. They both had the same 3.5 VG engine, but the more expensive Maxima is rated at a higher HP just because.

        Old farts will remember that Intel used to sell a 386 CPU which, if you paid extra, would come with a ‘Math co-processor’. As it turns out- they were the exact same identical chip and they all have the math coprocessing circuitry in them- only the cheaper chip had its math coprocessing circuits turned off.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      From a production standpoint I can understand using the same turbo, but detuning it for market reasons I find to be a bit silly since I would hope that there would be more reasons to choose one car over another, apart from 15hp.

  • avatar
    BlueEr03

    Maybe I am mistaken, but isn’t the Euro Abarth around 135hp and the EssEss around 170? Why the different names in the US? Or is it just that a US audience can’t accept a Tuned version of a car to only have 135hp?

    • 0 avatar
      moorewr

      Yes, but they are in fact different engines. Totally against the norm North America gets the better car (for now).

      I think they would have sold us the Abarth engine but they were reworking the engines anyway. They had to redesign the front end of the car to meet US crash regs. I’m guessing that the two versions of the engine we will have in the 500T and the 500 Abarth will be in the 500 Abarth & 500 Abarth SS in Europe in the future.

  • avatar
    MR2turbo4evr

    Can we please get a track test of this car when it comes out? I’d like to read about how much better it feels to drive than the much overhyped FRS/BRZ and how it dominates the twins on a track.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Are there any gains in gas mileage?

    Does the lower power reduce engine wear and allow it to run on standard gas?

    If no to the questions above, then I deem this version utterly pointless.

    • 0 avatar
      Lampredi

      If it’s the most “bang for the buck” you’re after, then the Fiat 500 probably does not make sense in any version. But economy not its selling point…

    • 0 avatar
      mik101

      If I had to guess, the point of this car is to not look so weak against the sonic and other sub-compacts (except for say the Prius C and Mazda 2).

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        If I had to guess, I’d guess the point is to offer greater performance to customers who don’t want to deal with the styling excesses of the Abarth. Kinda like the old Mustang LX could be optioned with the same performance as the GT, but without the wing, body kit, and general “ticket me” appearance. IMO, this version should replace the “Sport” trim level. As such, it’s exactly the version I asked about at the car show last year.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        They have the Abarth to show the turbo Daewood whats what.

        At Steve: A “sleeper” Abarth would be nice, but being cheated out of 25hp is a bit of a punishment for simply avoiding a few flashy decals.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      This version is for people who want faster acceleration than the regular 500, but don’t want the looks of the Abarth. I think the Abarth’s decals/paint are kind of tacky personally.

      Plus, at 135 hp/150 lb-ft of torque for $19.5k, this is going to be a lot faster than a base Mini Cooper, which is $20.5k.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I had one of these as a rental recently and was very impressed. The ride quality and handling were exceptional as was the equipment list – Bose, bluetooth, auto climate control, heated leather, etc.

    I will note that it is geared to be the prefect city car, very good low end power, easy to squirt through traffic. That said, if you give it the beans at 70mph, it doesn’t really have a lot to give you.

  • avatar

    Since we’re on topic, does anyone get the impression that these things are strangely narrow? I saw a few in traffic and they looked narrower than Toyota Echo. What’s the skidpad number?

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      It is a really tiny car. It definitely looks bigger in pictures than in person, especially in traffic. It’s really a category below a b-segment car like a Echo/Yaris or Mini. Ford’s b-segment car is the Fiesta, and the 500 shares its platform with the Ford Ka, which sits a class below the Fiesta in Europe.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    any word on how this will affect fuel economy numbers? My parents are currently beating the EPA estimates in their 500C. The rating is 34 mpg highway and they averaged 36-37 on a recent road trip that included mountain driving.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I sat in a few assorted 500’s at the New Hope (PA) car show last weekend. As the former owner of an X1/9 (lost and dearly lamented), I can say that this car is not the awesomely low and sleek midengine Italian sports car of my halcyon youth. However, it has the same feel of that car. YOu more put it on like a fine suit, rather then just get into it. Everything fell to hand. All the sight lines were right. The Abarth was beyond awesome (sorry i keep saying awesome). I will buy one as soon as i can. I am not sure if i will get a cabrio or not – i want one, but the abarth does not come in cabrio flavor. Perhaps theis turbo one will.

  • avatar
    AJ

    The problem with it now is that it will go so fast that if you hit something, you and the little car will simply vaporize. ;)

  • avatar
    Skink

    Still with the piglet nose.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    COOL!
    I WANT ONE!
    IT FULFILLS SOME INNER NEED!
    I’LL KEEP THIS CAR FOREVER!
    IT’S SO VERSATILE!
    I LOVE TO BE SEEN IN THIS!
    I’LL DRIVE THIS TO MY HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION!
    … see my point?

  • avatar
    kjb911

    I disagree with speed increases…at least in RI only one highway has a 65mph speed limit with a majority of the rest at 50-55. 20 minutes of my commute is on rt 138 which is a highway with speeds easily matching 65 however because of the lovely folks of jamestown, the highway is limited to 45/40 with heavy police monitoring. Its always fun in my focus to overtake grandpa in the left lane doing 25 only to worry about the statey around the corner. my cars have progressed in the 0-60 department but still sluggish so I cannot relate to the 5 seconds….my Fiero was 14 seconds, Jeep 9, and Focus 8.

    As for the point of this Fiat it seems like it is geared for someone my age. Insurance companies love to gouge in RI as we are ranked as one of the highest accidents per capita. Cars like the abarth are ranked as sport hatches and when I was quoted, were averaging 650.00 a month for full coverage. Meanwhile a cruze turbo was around 398.00. When VW offered the 2.0T in the regular Jetta as well as the GLI I was quoted a 180.00 difference for virtually the same car. But of course YMMV

  • avatar
    Joss

    The Versa sedan is the Chevette of today…

    Does the 500 Turb have the glass roof? Pic above looks iffy on it.

    I’d rather take a more practical Dart over a 500 (whatever level) and likely little difference in mileage.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    This model should have been available at the time of Fiat’s launch in the US. Mini was smart enough to launch with the base 115 hp Cooper and the “hot” 170 hp Cooper S back in 2001.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Intrigued by the new “T.” I guess I would have prefered the lineup to be “Sport/Turbo/Lounge/Abarth,” but it is what it is. They could sink the Pop by about $1500 and make it a real price/value proposition, but don’t see that happening.
    As for the “need for speed” arguement…I’ve had that one ad nauseum with my FIL (who owns a last-year-made Firebird Firehawk) and swears that you need 350+ HP just to survive the open road. Given today’s road congestion and traffic patterns, I’ve been rather content (and safe) with cars bringing much less firepower to the table, so to speak. I actually enjoyed driving my 2000 VW Golf more at the time (until just about every electronic piece of equipment started to grenade exactly 2 days after the warranty expired…but that’s way off topic). Test driving the Sport with a manual a few months ago, I was pleasantly surprised at my ability to keep up in the types of traffic I’m subjected to every day. So yes…I’m sure that the Camry sitting next to me at the stop light will be able to out accelerate me…to the next stop light. Not sure what that gains him. Bragging rights? Guess I’m the oddball out in that I kind of like small, lightweight (relatively speaking in today’s terms) and manual transmission cars that I can toss around a little and work to drive and enjoy. Seriously will be considered a 500 when my deployment is over. Might make it a “T in Rame!


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