Why did we never get these awesome versions?
Fiat's lineup has been all but eliminated in the United States, with the 2021 Fiat 500X acting as the Italian brand's lone remaining model. FCA will reportedly build a new Fiat-branded SUV in Poland, which is rumored to feature a convertible roof. A convertible SUV is somewhat intriguing, but based on the failures of the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet and Range Rover Evoque Convertible, we don't think it will singlehandedly save the Fiat brand here in the US.
The new Fiat 500 electric model might do the trick, but even that could be too small to attract American buyers. There's a genuine chance that the recent FCA-PSA Group merger could spell the end for Fiat in the US, as even the historic Chrysler brand is reported to be on the chopping block. Fiat never established a foothold here in the US, and a recent announcement from the company's Abarth division shows us what we've been missing.
The Fiat 500 Abarth may be dead in America, along with the entire 500 range, but the sporty hatchback/convertible is still offered in Europe for the 2021 model year. In fact, Abarth now offers four sporty variants that were never offered stateside. These include the base 595, Turismo, Competizione, and Essesse models. All four use the same 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder offered on the US-spec 500 Abarth, but there's more power on tap.
In base 595 form, the engine only dishes out 145 horsepower, which is less than the 160-hp rating of the US market 500 Abarth. The Turismo dials the output to 163 hp, while the Competizione and Essesse versions produce 177 hp. A 17 hp bump may not sound like much, but these trims get other performance enhancements, including a Garrett GT1446 turbocharger, mechanical limited-slip differential, Koni shocks, and Brembo brakes. A five-speed manual transmission comes standard, with a sequential automatic available as an option.
Peeking inside these cars truly shows what we missed out on here in the US. While the US-spec 500 Abarth had some interesting interior color options, they pale in comparison to what's offered in Europe. The updates for 2021 include a Helmet Brown leather option, Alcantara-trimmed dashboard, new leather sports seats, and a carbon fiber gear lever. Abarth has renamed the Sport mode to "Scorpion" mode, and there is now a standard seven-inch Uconnect infotainment system with an optional Beats audio system.
As shown in the photos, these cars offer a wide variety of seat options, including carbon-fiber-backed racing buckets. On the exterior, Abarth added a matt Rally Blue paint option and the Esseesse version receives an Akrapovic exhaust system with titanium tips. These updated Abarth models look special, and it's a shame that they were never sold in the US.