In its ongoing attempt to be all things to all people (via but one basic model), Fiat USA introduced a new Fiat 500 Turbo at Monterey’s Concorso Italiano. The 500 Turbo is intended to occupy the ‘sweet spot’ between the normally aspirated 500 and rootin’/tootin’ Fiat 500 Abarth. With – at present – three trim levels for the standard 500, Cabrio variants for all three and the aforementioned Abarth performance derivative, the intro of a milder 500 Turbo gives the consumer more choices on a Fiat showroom than Republicans enjoyed during this year’s Iowa Caucus.
As Tim Kuniskis – head of Fiat in North America – noted, “the new Fiat 500 Turbo is the answer to all the fans that loved the style of our Cinquecento (500) but wanted more power and performance for their daily drive. The Fiat 500 Turbo balances and blends the best Italian flavors that our portfolio has to offer, becoming the perfect canvas for customization.”
With a business model closely patterned after BMW’s Mini, customization is apparently the key to accessing the 20-something demographic. And absent the Abarth’s visual differentiation (and Boy Racer affectation), the 500 Turbo is arguably the better canvas for those wanting to make a Fiat their very own.
Of course, the 500 Turbo’s canvas isn’t completely blank. Beyond the additional horsepower (135 vs. 101) and torque (150 vs. 98!) from the 500’s 1.4 liter MultiAir engine, the 2013 Turbo receives a performance-designed front fascia, bolder side skirts, unique 16-inch aluminum wheels and a high-performance brake system. To better control the additional power the 500 Turbo also obtains its own lower control arm and the 500 Sport’s sport-tuned springs, shocks and steering.
Inside, the Turbo prospect will find sport-styled seating (for your sport-styled buttocks), leather-wrapped shift knob and a steering wheel accented with Argento stitching. Those wishing to narrow the price gap between the Turbo and Abarth can opt for heated leather seating, an optional extra.
Arriving in Fiat Studios this fall, the 2013 500 Turbo lands with a MSRP of $19,500 plus $700 destination. With the Fiat 500 Sport running about $17K and the 500 Abarth costing roughly $22K (plus destination) the new Turbo fits almost exactly between Fiat’s existing price points. (Of course, to at least one industry observer – and Fiat enthusiast – those existing price points remain roughly $2K too high.) The Abarth will undoubtedly supply the better resale potential, but the 500 Turbo looks like the better Fiat for all drives short of a track day.