Fiat Unveils US-Spec 500C Abarth in LA

2012 LA Auto Show

Chrysler's Italian cousin drops the top on its pocket rocket at the LA Auto Show.

With a million units now sold, the Fiat 500 has grown in scope from a solitary hatchback model to a fuller range. The retro hatch is still available, of course, in its original body-style, but you can also get a convertible version, a four-door version (which is based on a different platform altogether), a performance version, there's a crossover version on its way and even an electric version. But trust us when we say that, unless you're a hairdresser by profession, this is the one you'll want.

Unveiled for the first time in US specification at the LA Auto Show this week, the Fiat 500C Abarth combines the most desirable elements from the other models into one very tempting little package. Under the hood you'll find a 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder engine with 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque that'll propel the little pocket rocket to 60 in a little over seven seconds. Along with the upgraded suspension, steering rack, brakes and three-mode stability control, the mechanical bits all carry over from the existing 500 Abarth, but with one vital difference.

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That would be the folding canvas roof panel from the 500C, which retains the solid pillars and roof rails to keep the body rigid and the open-top driving experience as simple as possible. You can open it at speeds of up to 50 mph (halfway at up to 60) to let the sound from the dual exhaust pipes into the cabin. The new 500C Abarth also comes with a Beats by Dr. Dre audio system (the first in a convertible) and comes with free advanced driving instruction at the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

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