2012 Fiat 500 Sport Hatchback 2-door 1.4l on 2040-cars
Los Angeles, California, United States
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Auto blogWed, 11 Sep 2013 14:20:00 EST
Props must be paid to the people at Abarth, who could've celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 595 - the model that put this performance brand on the map back in the 1960s - with a special edition appearance package and called it a day. But no, that's not how Abarth does things. Instead, it is producing 299 units of this 595 50th Anniversary Edition model that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week, and it's received much more than a new suit for its big 5-0 celebration.
In addition to the matte white finish and historical livery that reinterprets the original car's look, this progeny of the original 595 also receives a substantial bump in power - an increase of 20 horsepower over the standard 500 Abarth for a new total of 180. The upgraded engine is paired with an "Abarth Competizione" transmission, and the sizzling hatchback rides on 17-inch alloy wheels that hide larger Brembo brakes sized 12 inches in diameter. Not that the standard 500 Abarth sounds wimpy (quite the contrary, actually), but the 595 receives a new "Record Monza" variable back-pressure dual-mode exhaust for an even more stirring soundtrack above 3,000 rpm. The interior, meanwhile, is adorned with red leather seats featuring white inserts and red stitching, and a black leather steering wheel with red inserts, as well as its own assortment of historical logos.
The 595 50th Anniversary Edition will be available to order on September 15th, though we expect the entire lot to go quickly and haven't been told yet if any are earmarked for sale in the US. Our fingers are crossed.
At the moment, Fiat is in court with the United Auto Workers, waiting for the justice system to provide some guidance on a fair price for 41.5-percent of Chrysler it doesn't own. Fiat owns 58.5 percent of the company and wishes to buy the remainder, which is owned by the union's VEBA retiree trust, but the Italian company and the UAW are on different sides of the galaxy when it comes to assigning a fair price to that outstanding stake.
Naturally, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is considering his options. A new report in the The Wall Street Journal says one of the scenarios being considered now is - depending on the outcome of the court case - to purchase the 41.5-percent stake and then issue an IPO to recoup some of the cost. About two months ago, Marchionne put the odds of an IPO for a wholly combined Fiat/Chrysler at 50 percent. Even with the WSJ report, it's not clear if those odds have changed.
The current company structure leaves a lot of options as to how a potential IPO could be issued, but it's said that Marchionne is against it, preferring "to be one company," under Fiat, indivisible. If Fiat is finally able to purchase all of the Pentastar, it would get access to Chrysler's war chest, pegged at $11.9 billion at the end of Q3 in 2012, and that money can't come soon enough for a brand taking a beating in Europe and delaying product over cash concerns.
While this writer knows Zender as the maker of (mostly) fine body kits for German marques such as Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the company has also been known to make kits for Italian autos. Its latest product, for example, has been applied to the Fiat 500 Abarth, resulting in what it calls the Abarth 500 Corsa Stradale Concept. We're not quite sure how we managed to miss it at the Frankfurt Motor Show, with its bulging fender flares, new front and rear fascias and side skirts, exhaust pipes poking from the bumper/diffuser, 18-inch alloy wheels and huge rear spoiler - but better late than never.
Not only does the kit lend the little Fiat a more aggressive stance, the body pieces also are made of lightweight carbon fiber, which is fitting for a car wearing the Corsa Stradale name (which roughly translates to "Road Race"). Also fitting is the 76-horsepower bump to 236 hp from the 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. That substantial power increase comes courtesy of a larger turbocharger, modified pistons and camshafts, revised fuel injection with a bigger fuel pressure regulator, upgraded engine management and a stainless-steel exhaust system. So equipped, Zender claims the Corsa Stradale Concept does 0-62 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds, a 0.7-second improvement over the stock Abarth, and 0-124 mph in 24.7 seconds. It continues past the stock Abarth's 130-mph top speed and is claimed to top out at 144 mph.
A reworked height-adjustable coilover suspension helps keep body motions in check, and Zender has also upgraded the interior slightly, with custom sport seats in two-tone leather and stainless-steel pedals and door-sill garnishes.