For those that think the 500 is too petite and the 500 Abarth too butch, Fiat announces a happy medium, a more powerful version of the 500 that is not quite as aggressive as the Abarth. The 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo drops smack into the middle of the line-up, preserving the retro Italian styling of the 500 but boasting a scoche more power.
The 500 Turbo adds a turbocharger to its 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which boosts output from 101 horsepower to 135, and cranks up the torque to 150 foot-pounds. This turbo is smaller than that on the 500 Abarth, which retains its mantle as the Fiat king with 160 horsepower.
When we reviewed the 500 Abarth, the loud exhaust note gave us a thrill. Fiat says in its press release that the 500 Turbo gets a sport-tuned exhaust, so expect it to sound more aggressive than the base model, at least.
Fiat applies the sport adjective to other parts of the 500 Turbo, including the suspension, steering, and shift knob. To show off its sporty nature, Fiat also equips the 500 Turbo with brake calipers painted red, or rosso in Fiat-speak. To accommodate the engine, the front of the Fiat Turbo is pushed out more than two inches over that of the standard 500.
A welcome addition is an optional Beats by Dre audio system, which packs the cabin with six speakers, 8-inch subwoofer, and eight-channel 368 watt amp. It seems likely that this Beats audio system will also be available in other versions of the 500. At CES this year, we heard a Beats system in a Dodge Charger and came away impressed, so have high expectations for the system in the Fiat.
The 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo hits showrooms this fall, at a starting price of $19,500, about $3,000 less than the 500 Abarth.