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First look: Fiat's race-ready 500 Abarth

Race-ready: Fiat 500 racer churns out 147kW and 300Nm.

Fiat confirms a racetrack return, via the piping-hot 147kW 500 Abarth Assetto Corse

16 May 2008

FIAT has revealed the first details of the hottest new-generation 500 hatch to date, the 147kW Assetto Corse version that will be campaigned on European racetracks in 2009.

An initial production run of just 49 left-hand drive versions of the 500 race car will be produced, meaning the high-performance micro-Fiat is unlikely to ever grace Australian circuits.

It does, however, signal the Italian brand’s return to the racetrack with the all-new 500, first deliveries of which arrived in Australia just over a month ago priced from $22,990.

60 center imageThere is still a four-month waiting list for the 500 hatch, an Abarth version of which appeared at the Geneva motor show in March, ahead of its 2009 arrival here.

The 500 range will be further expanded later next year when the 500 convertible arrives, followed a year later by the 500 wagon.

Much like its 595-badged forebear that racked up a number of giant-killing victories throughout Europe from 1963, the 500 Abarth Assetto Corse will be used by Fiat as the basis of a one-make racing series to be held in various European countries, starting in Italy, in 2009.

Designed by the Fiat Group Automobiles Style Centre and produced by a team of Abarth engineers and designers, the piping-hot 500 comes with wider-track 17-inch ultra-light racing wheels, a lower ride height, race mirrors and side number plates.

Available only in pastel grey with red Abarth side stripes, it features an Abarth front badge, a more aggressive bumper, specific grille, bonnet clips, a pair of carbon bonnet air-intakes featuring the Abarth scorpion logo, twin exhaust outlets and a white rear roof spoiler with Abarth logo.

Completing the 500 racer’s look is a side thunderbolt logo and a red band with four white chequers on the roof - just as on the winning Abarth 850TC version of the 1960s.

A serious weight-reduction program sees the 500 track special shed 180kg from its road-going donor car, despite the fitment of a race-ready rollcage, thanks in part to carbon door panels, a centrally-mounted single racing seat with harness and a racing steering wheel.

Buyers will receive an Abarth-branded leather bag, complete with Assetto Corse-badged racing overalls, helmet, gloves and boots.

Vital statistics of the hottest 500 Abarth’s 1.4-litre 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder, which is boosted via a Garrett GT 1446 fixed-geometry turbocharger, include 147kW at 6500rpm and 300Nm of torque at 3000rpm – instead of the regular 500’s 51kW 1.2-litre four or 99kW 1.4-litre turbo four engine choices.

It is mated to an M32 six-speed manual gearbox, while suspension upgrades include race shock absorbers and ride height adjustment at both ends. The 500’s electric power-steering system is race-tuned, while an upgraded braking system comprises Brembo four-piston front callipers with vented and perforated 305x28mm discs, and 264x11mm rear discs – all hidden behind 17x7.0-inch painted forged aluminium wheels wrapped in 205/50-section racing tyres.

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