Toronto 2010: Up Close and Personal With the Abarth 500 at the Canadian International Auto Show

Colum Wood
by Colum Wood

With the Chicago Auto Show just the day before, there’s not a lot of point in covering the Toronto Auto Show, except for the fact that it often allows a much closer look at new and upcoming models. Chicago is already low-key but the media day at the Canadian International Auto Show is sparsely attended at best and so we got the best access we’ve had yet to Fiat’s high-powered Abarth version of the 500.

We’re not overly fond of the Fiat 500’s European econo looks, but add on some aerodynamic treatments, a lowered suspension and some 17-inch wheels and we’re starting to see the appeal. Plus, in the Abarth mode, the 500’s standard 1.4-liter 4-cylinder gets a turbocharger (one of the smallest we’ve ever seen), to create 170-hp and 170 ft-lbs of torque.

While no production date is set, the 500 is scheduled to U.S. and Canadian shores and that’s likely to mean the Abarth 500 will also follow. We were surprised at how high-grade the car’s interior is, looking like a slightly lower-grade Audi, with some well-bolstered seats and a nice meaty steering wheel. If Fiat is to make a success of a car like this it will have to sell it as a premium vehicle, competing with the MINI Cooper. With slightly less power but also less weight, a model like this Abarth is sure to be a hit amongst enthusiasts.

GALLERY: Abarth 500

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