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Abarth 500 released (copyright image) (copyright image)

The Abarth 500 Esseesse ... high performance, high price! Abarth's first model for Australia is priced well above Volkswagen Golf GTI but lower than the class-leading performance car, the Renault Clio RenaultSport 200 Gordini.

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10th March, 2011

This is the Abarth 500 Esseesse, the car that wears the Black Scorpion badge. The car is small, but it has a sting in its tail (so to speak).

Back in 1957 Carlo Abarth took the then newly launched Fiat 500 and made the first Abarth 500.

With the new-generation Fiat 500 as its starting point, Abarth has devised a new Abarth 500 that is every bit as sharply focussed, hard core and as able to give bigger performance cars a fright - just like the oldie. It's a warmed-up version of the existing car, a warm hatch for people who want to go a little bit quicker or just have the image of a faster car.

An all out, no holds-barred, uncompromising, high performance pocket rocket with an engine that delivers performance: This 500 is ready to rock.

The city car has turned, like Dr Jekyll into Mr Hyde, into the urban tearaway, the open road demolition star and the track day rocket. It lives up to the mantra from the 1950s – ‘Small but Wicked’!

Abarth in Australia has taken the decision to launch with the Abarth 500 Esseesse, making this the first country to get this variant straight out of the factory. In other markets customers buy the Abarth 500 and then add the Esseesse kit as an after purchase accessory.

“We could not see the point in our market of having this two stage delivery of the Abarth 500,” explains Andrei Zaitzev, General Manager for Abarth in Australia. “For a start all the customers banging on our door from the moment the car was announced in Europe said the same thing – they wanted the ultimate version. Secondly none of the reasons for the doing the aftermarket kit – insurance, the existence of large car tuning market – really apply here. So we told Abarth that our customers wanted one thing – the hottest, hardest, highest performing Abarth 500 they could produce and that’s what we have in the Esseesse!”

Compared to the normal Abarth 500, the Esseesse version destined for Australia has a power boost from 99 kW to 118 kW, while the maximum torque lifts from 201 to 230 Nm. To cope with the power and torque lift, the Abarth 500 Esseesse has, over the normal Abarth 500, extra lowered suspension, up-rated springs and suspension, cross drilled brake discs and 7x17 inch alloy wheels in a style unique to the Esseesse. Top speed is 211 km/h and the 100 km/h dash is achieved in 7.4 seconds, yet fuel consumption is just 6.5 litres on the combined cycle.

Thus the Abarth 500 Esseesse has a substantial performance gain over the normal Abarth 500, but compared to the normal 1.4 litre version of the Fiat 500, the performance gain is even more impressive.

With 74 kW on tap, the normal 500 zips to 100 km/h in 10.5 seconds, while with 118 kW from the same sized engine, the Abarth 500 Esseesse rips to 100 km/h in 7.4 seconds, while top speed lifts from 182 to 211 km/h.

For that extra performance, fuel consumption on the combined cycle rises by just 0.2 of a litre per 100 km, from 6.3 to 6.5 litres per 100 km. All that extra performance and brio for a little more than a small glass of fuel every 100 km!

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Abarth’s technical wizards have thoroughly re-engineered the 500 to produce the Abarth 500. Squeezing a turbocharger into the tight confines of the 500’s engine bay was no mean feat, and led Abarth engineers to completely redesign the front end of the vehicle. As a testament to their skill, Abarth technicians made a deeper spoiler that feeds the engine with sufficient air while maintaining the frontal appearance of the 500.

Entirely new springs and dampers are fitted to the front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension, while the car is also equipped with Torque Transfer Control. This advanced electronic system replicates the effects of a limited slip differential on the driven front wheels to ensure maximum entertainment and safety during cornering, limiting understeer, enhancing turn-in and maintaining stability in bumpy corners.

Amazing although this performance is, it does not have to be experienced to realise that the 500 has gone under a thorough metamorphosis to produce the Abarth 500 Esseesse. There’s the lowered stance, the wheel arches crammed with unique 17 inch alloy wheels and a slick of 205/40 series high performance tyres, a massive rear spoiler over the rear window that is complemented by a rear splitter and two huge exhaust outlets. The Abarth side stickers are matched by side sills and there are additional vents pull heat away from the brakes.

Inside, the fully equipped interior is clear in its intent – the ideal sporting heart, from the thick rimmed, grippy flat bottomed steering wheel, the leather bound gear knob, the sports seats and the aluminium trimmed pedals all add to the aggressive ambiance. There’s a dash-mounted turbo boost gauge and gear shift indicator to help drivers get the most out of the Abarth 500’s performance when the Sport button is pressed, and aid economy when it isn’t, with it flashing as the rev-limit is approached in Sport mode and when to change up for better fuel economy in normal mode.

Privacy glass on the rear wide windows and unique roof lining complete the Abarth interior. The Abarth 500 comes as standard with equipment that would have been beyond the dreams of its historic predecessor, with climate control air-conditioning, electric windows, seven airbags, electrically adjustable body coloured door mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, an Interscope sound system with radio, CD and MP3 file player power amplifier and sub-woofer, and Fiat’s innovative and unique Blue&Me hands-free communication system all ticked in the standard equipment list.

With seven airbags and a five star EuroNCAP rating, safety is also fully served. A robust braking system features ABS anti-lock braking with EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution) and HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assistance) to ensure maximum stopping power when required. There’s also an ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) to ensure control is maintained at all times, while Hill Holder makes for stress-free starts on a slope.

The Abarth 500 Esseesse has a manufacturer's list price* (MLP*) of $34,990*.

NOTE: * Manufacturer's List Price (MLP) excludes dealer delivery fees and the numerous statutory charges (commonly known as on-road costs). Additionally, please note that all prices, fees and charges are subject to change without notice.


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