While we feel as if we're no stranger to the new Abarth-tuned Fiat 500 — we've seen all the press shots, seen all the leaked specs and even seen a gigantic Fiat-pooping 500 — it doesn't compare to seeing it in person. Here's our first glimpse at the tarted-up Abarth 500, and although not as cute as the cinquecento, it's still as adorable as the base model. And now there's even 33% more power to love as the folks at the Turin-founded and now Fiat-owned Abarth have turbo'ed that 1.4-liter gas engine, bumping the power up from the meek 100 bhp (as Ben found out in his test drive of Fiat's 2007 small hotness) to 135 bhp at 5500 rpm. That power-play gives the 500 a 0-to-62 mph grade of 8.2 seconds. Not too shabby and definitely allows the remnants of the Abarth family to rest easy knowing the "small but wicked" past continues into the present. Full press release after the jump.
18/02/2008 Abarth The return of the Abarth brand continues to bring new challenges. The 'Scorpion' philosophy, which is conveyed in all the brand's activities with passion and tradition, continues to excite sports car lovers everywhere. As envisaged by the plans to revive the brand, the Abarth & C. Spa company has set up new premises in the Mirafiori complex in Turin, bringing together the manufacturing, design and management functions for the whole company, as well as the staff of the Racing Team who were formerly housed in the historical plant in the nearby town of Chivasso. This fully-fledged industrial structure was put up in record time, just eight months, and stands in an area of more than 23,000 square metres, where all the brand's activities are concentrated. It employs more than 100 people. The inaugural ceremony is also an excellent opportunity to present the 2008 season of the Abarth Racing Team. After the brilliant results achieved in last year's rally season, which marked the Scorpion's official return to the racing world, the team will tackle 2008 with the same guts and determination; it will start with the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, which will be contested by two official Grande Punto Abarth S2000s, driven by Giandomenico Basso and Anton Alen, with the support of its main sponsor Selenia and with the collaboration of Sabelt. And the Grande Punto Abarth S2000 will also compete in the Italian Rally Championship, sponsored by Metis and Api-IP, with two cars driven by Andrea Navarra and Renato Travaglia. Finally, Umberto Scandola is a pilot from the Abarth Team that will carry out development tests as well as several prestigious international competions. An Abarth Trophy will also be contested this year, maintaining a tradition begun in 1977: the Grande Punto API-IP ORO DIESEL Trophy is a championship reserved for the Fiat Grande Punto R3D which is now in its second edition (the pilot Alessio Pisi won the first edition). From racing to our everyday roads, but always with a sporty approach. This is the goal behind the debut of the long-awaited '500 Abarth', announced for the coming Geneva International Motor Show. The new car was developed by the Fiat Group Automobiles Style Centre in the spirit of the legendary Fiat 500 Abarth of the 1960s, and will be marketed from July through the exclusive Abarth network. With a strong sporty personality, the new car will be powered by a Fire 1.4 16v petrol Turbo engine, which delivers a maximum of 135 bhp (99 kW) at 5,500 rpm and peak torque of 206 Nm at 3,000 rpm in 'Sport' mode (in 'Normal' mode, torque is reduced to 180 Nm at 2,500 rpm). This brilliant, smooth new engine is also a friend of the environment: like the regular Fiat model it is derived from, the new Abarth will respect future Euro 5 legislation. Another interesting feature of the 500 Abarth is the fact that it adopts the new TTC (Torque Transfer Control) system, which improves the transfer of drive torque to the wheels, but, above all, ensures that the car behaves impeccably on bends, making it safer and more entertaining even with a sporty driving style. In other words, it is faithful to the phrase coined for the Abarths of the 1960s 'small but wicked'. While the 500 Abarth represents the brand's future, fans today can already enjoy a sporty drive at the wheel of the Grande Punto Abarth, equipped with the 1.4 Turbo petrol engine that delivers 155 bhp at 5500 rpm combined with a 6-speed mechanical gearbox, which has a top speed of 208 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 8.2 seconds. An Open Day in April will mark the Italian launch of two elaboration kits - 'Assetto' and 'esseesse' - which will make the Grande Punto Abarth even more aggressive and powerful.