If the rumors are true and Fiat does bring the Fiat 500 stateside we hope it brings this, the 160 HP Fiat 500 Abarth SS.

Based on the already appealing Fiat 500 Abarth. The Essesse (Italian for "SS") tweaks that car's ECU to boost the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from 135 to 160 HP. Torque is up to 170 Lb-Ft. Also upgraded are the suspension, brakes and wheels, which are stiffer, bigger and better looking.

This is a lot of power for a 2,282-pund FWD car. Keeping it from tearing your arms off under acceleration is a Torque Transfer Control system that mimics a Limited Slip Differential in its ability to keep the little Fiat pointed in a straight line.

The Essesse can hit 62 MPH in 7.4 seconds, continuing to a top speed of 131 MPH. it's also capable of returning MPGs in the mid 30s. The sportier model carries a $3,500 premium over the regular Abarth.

Since we're already big fans of the Mini Cooper S and the Fiat 500, we look forward to finding out what it's like to combine the speed of the former with the diminutive size of the latter. But we'll leave the Mini-esque roof checks and keep the 500's simple good looks if we ever get the chance to buy one on this side of the Atlantic.


Owners who want to take their Abarth 500 even closer to the tuning firm's ‘racer for the road' ideal, can plump for the esseesse specification. The word esseesse means ‘SS' in Italian and lives up to its name by giving the car a supremely sporting twist.

The £2500 conversion has to be carried out within 12 months or 20,000km of the car's first registration and can only be undertaken by Abarth's skilled network of technicians. Their first job is to upgrade the engine's Electronic Control Unit so that the 1.4-litre turbo pumps out 160bhp at 5750rpm – more than double the power output of the regular Fiat model and very much in keeping with historic Abarth practice. To help with this power upgrade, a new air filter made by Italian specialist BMC is fitted.

To match the additional power, drilled and ventilated 284mm x 22mm brake discs are fitted at the front, together with new pads, while 240mm x 11mm drilled discs replace the already powerful standard items at the rear. Uprated Abarth springs are fitted front and rear too, and so that the esseesse looks even racier, the regular 16-inch wheels are replaced with 17-inch white or titanium colour alloy rims and 205/40 R17 tyres.

A tyre pressure monitoring system and unique key cover are the final touches in this transformation to the ultimate road-going Abarth 500.

Even though this upgrade relies heavily on modern technology, the esseesse kit stays loyal to the legend of Abarth by being delivered to customers in a high quality wooden crate. Once its contents have been emptied, the crate then becomes the property of the customer as a charming memento.