Abarth was founded in 1952 as a “one-stop-shop” for Fiat performance gear. What does that have to do with the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth? Nothing. Seriously. In 1971 Abarth was purchased by Fiat, by the 1990s the “brand” had deteriorated to a trim level on questionable hatchbacks and by 2000 it was “dead trim walking.” In 2007 Fiat decided they needed a performance brand once again and resurrected Abarth with the inexplicably named “Fiat Grande Punto Abarth” and (more importantly) a complete line of clothing and accessories. Despite the apparent soft start for the brand in the Euro-zone, Fiat tells us they held nothing back for the launch of Abarth in North America. Our own tame racing driver Jack took the Abarth for a spin on the track back in March but this time we’re pitting Italy’s hot hatch against a bigger challenge: the daily commute.
The new Kia Cee’d may have a stupid name, but everything else about the car looks pretty attractive. Well, maybe not the grille. They also refrained from releasing any specs at all alongside these photos, so you’ll have to wait until March’s Auto Show to get the scoop. The Forte is a little dated by now, to the point where it’s hard to justify buying one over a Rio, let alone an Elantra – how about it, Kia?
Press release and gallery below
The Chevrolet Cruze hatchback that’s sold in virtually every market except the United States still won’t be coming to America – but we may have the chance to get a Cruze wagon, if Automotive News has their story straight.
Remember the early Nova hatchbacks? They didn’t sell very well, probably because the hatch cost $150 more ($810 in 2011 dollars) than the Nova coupe with a traditional trunk. I can’t remember the last time I saw one, and I wouldn’t have noticed this one in my local self-service yard, had it not been for the sharp eyes of the Tetanus Neon LeMons team co-captains, visiting Denver from Houston and stopping at the junkyard on their way to the airport for some Neon throttle-body shopping. (Read More…)
Kia’s Soul didn’t have the most electrifying launch sales-wise, but with the release of its second buzz-worthy ad, the funky little box is becoming a major player in our A/B/Small Hatch segment. The Nissan Versa is clearly the dominant player here, selling nearly twice as well as the Soul. Meanwhile, there’s a tight pack of offerings that have moved at least 20k units this year, that ranges from the aged HHR to the MINI Cooper. Look for a big shake-up in this segment once Ford’s Fiesta production hits high gear.
As we’ve noted before, there are lots of ways to skin a segment. Here’s one of them. Notice that four of the top five sellers here are also available as sedans, the Honda Fit being the only exception. Interestingly, compact hatches tend to carry a premium over their sedan variants.