A few years ago, we put together a comparison pitting four of our favorite hot hatches against one another. Now, in 2012, we have a new generation of fast, turbocharged hatchbacks that deserve a close look. One brand, the winner from the last test—Mini—is represented here again, this time in the Mini Cooper S Coupe. Also in the race is the new Fiat 500 Abarth, which has garnered a lot of attention from the media and the public. Finally, we threw in the Hyundai Veloster Turbo, which we think is both an interesting and exciting candidate, even if it hasn’t had much time to make a name for itself.
Slotting in neatly between the standard Fiat 500—or Cinquecento for the full-blooded Italians in the audience—and the “Look at me!” go-fast 500 Abarth is this, the new 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo. The Turbo arrives sporting the same 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbocharged MultiAir engine that is found under the hood of the Abarth.
Because, from the moment we slotted ourselves behind the flat-bottomed steering wheel, outside of the Hard Rock Hotel on the Las Vegas strip, to the last turn of the last hot lap we ran for the day, we loved driving this car.
At the LA Auto Show, Fiat is unveiling the juiced-up Abarth version of the tiny Fiat 500.
The success of BMW’s Mini brand in the US (about 45K units sold in North America in 2010—a record number) has relied heavily on selling the notion that the cars fit into the “premium” category, despite their small size. That’s significant because we Americans have long had difficulty reconciling the fact that a small car needn’t always be a very cheap car. Fiat seems to understand this market position pretty well, if we’re to judge by the US-specification 500s that we drove in sunny San Diego.
Fiat is planning on having its 500 in showrooms by the end of 2010, and in keeping with that timeline, the Italian brand has revealed the North American version of its diminutive city car. Designed to take the fight to the Mini Cooper in the boutique small car market, the 500 will be available with one engine (initially)—Fiat’s award-winning 1.4-liter turbocharged MultiAir inline-four.