The new Abarth 500C, which has just
gone on sale in the UK, allows drivers to combine unrivalled small
car performance with the thrill of wind-in-the-hair motoring in one
stylish and well-equipped package.
Abarthís hard-top version of the 500
has caught the imagination of drivers everywhere and helped cement
the return of Abarth to the public consciousness. By thoroughly
re-engineering the soft-top 500C, Abarth is planning to attract an
entirely new audience to the attributes of the resurgent brand,
broadening that appeal and encouraging the discerning driver to
enter the world of Abarth.
The Abarth cornerstone is
performance and the Abarth 500C embodies that with innovations that
transform it into the fastest and most focused soft top of its size.
The most radical of these is the Abarth Competizione gearbox.
Developed specifically by Abarth engineers, the Manual Transmission
Automated (MTA) allows drivers to change gear using paddles mounted
behind the steering wheel for a sportier feel. Or, for more relaxed
progress, to push a button on the dashboard console, turning the
five-speed unit into a full automatic.
The engine is the same 1.4-litre
turbo thatís used on the Abarth 500 hatchback model. However a
reprogramming of the ECU adds another 5bhp, boosting it to 140bhp.
This gives a top speed of 128mph, while 0-62mph acceleration is
dispatched in 8.1 seconds. But the new engine is also eco friendly,
complying with Euro5 standards and emitting just 151g/km of CO2.
Just because itís clean doesnít
make it boring, however, and the racy rasp of the exhaust note is
matched with urgency at the wheel thanks to the 206Nm of torque
produced by the engine from just 2000rpm. The performance on tap can
be adjusted according to the driving environment using the vehicleís
Sport button. When Sport is selected gear changes are made quicker,
engine responses are sharpened, and the electric Dualdrive steering
weights up. At the press of a button, drivers can also select TTC
(Torque Transfer Control).
The Abarth name is synonymous with
high performance for an affordable price. To ensure the Abarth 500C
lives up to this mantra, itís powered by an uprated version of the
1.4-litre T-Jet unit used by the hatchback. Thanks to work on the
ECU, this version of the engine develops a healthy 140bhp at
5000rpm. And the retractable roof enables occupants to enjoy the
engineís glorious throaty burble courtesy of the twin tailpipes.
But the driveability of this zesty
little engine is demonstrated by the 206Nm of torque available from
2000rpm in Sport mode. This leads to a 128mph top speed while the
0-62mph dash is covered in 8.1 seconds, making it the best
performing convertible in its class Ė by far. Just as impressive is
the frugal fuel consumption, with the Abarth 500C returning 43.5mpg
on the combined cycle.
The 1368cc 16-valve unit uses a
fixed geometry IHI RHF3-P turbocharger. This has given Abarthís
engineers the opportunity to let drivers exploit the flexibility of
turbocharging. Mounted on the dash is a Sport button which modifies
the ECU mapping and turbo boost pressure.