The arrival on the market of the Fiat 500 opened the way for the resurgence of the Fiat Group's Abarth brand. The 500 Abarth, which was launched earlier this year, has proved a significant model in its own right, and now the range has been further extended. The 2008 Paris Motor Show saw the presentation of the 500 Abarth Assetto Corse for track racing and of the "esseesse" tuning kit for 500 Abarth road cars.
The "no frills" Assetto Corse has a 1.4-L 16-valve engine, with a Garrett GT 1446 fixed-geometry turbocharger, producing 147 kW (197 hp) at 6500 rpm and 300 N·m (221 lb·ft) at 3000 rpm. A widened track, 17-in racing alloy wheels, lowered suspension, and racing rearview mirrors are fitted, as are front and rear spoilers, a roll bar, and an ergonomic seat.
The little Abarth’s weight-reduced interior includes carbon-fiber door panels. Steering is racing-calibrated electric, transmission an M32 six-speed manual, and brakes include Brembo four-pot front calipers at the front.
The driving position has been optimized for racing, being moved toward the center of the cabin. At 920 kg (2030 lb), the car weighs 120 kg (265 lb) less than the regular 500 Abarth.
The esseesse kit also provides more power but in a more usable form as a regular road car. Output is 147 kW (197 hp) at 5750 rpm, but maximum torque is 230 N·m (170 lb·ft) at 3000 rpm from the 1.4-L 16V engine. Top speed is 211 km/h (131 mph), with 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration in 7.4 s. An IHI RHF3 fixed-geometry turbocharger is used.
The car has perforated and ventilated front, and perforated rear, brakes, lowered suspension, and 17-in wheels fitted with Pirelli P zero tires. A tire-pressure-monitoring system is fitted. Transmission is a five-speed.
Abarth has said that it wants to borrow "all the useful performance and safety features from the world of racing," and with that aim it has established a network of partners including Brembo, BMC, Sabelt, FPT, and Magnetti Marelli, with whom it is to design and develop dedicated products for its own models.
Away from the high-performance sector, Fiat presented its ecoDrive system at Paris. A software application, it can be installed on a Fiat owner’s computer and is available on a company website.
EcoDrive processes all information relating to vehicle efficiency and driver operating characteristics. Via a Blue&Me USB port, all data are transmitted and can be "read on a computer at a later date," explained a company spokesman.
The user can analyze consumption and emissions on each journey made and receive advice on how to drive in a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly style. By applying the advice from a series of progressive tutorials, a driver can improve his or her score.
Those who are "eco-responsible" could expect meaningful savings, said the spokesman, potentially achieving a reduction of some 15% of CO2 emissions and fuel consumption: "And ‘ecoVille’ has been created specifically for Fiat’s ‘ecoDrivers’—an online community where everyone can share interests and their commitment to an eco-responsible way of driving by accessing the site."