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2013 Fiat 500 Turbo brings budget performance to the Fiat family

Today at the Concorso Italiano in Monterey California, the Fiat brand introduced the 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo – a performance model designed to bridge the gap between the standard Fiat 500 and the high performance Fiat 500 Abarth – with 34mpg and a price under $20k.

The heart of the 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo is the 1.4L turbocharged, twin intercooled MultiAir 4-cylinder engine which sends 135 horsepower and 150lb-ft of torque to the front wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission. This motor offers a considerable increase in power over the standard Fiat 500 (which makes 101hp and 98lb-ft of torque) while leaving a comfortable gap between itself and the high performance Fiat 500 Abarth that packs 160hp and 170lb-ft of torque. The 1.4L turbocharged engine in the 500 Turbo also features a sport tuned exhaust system that I hope offers the incredible exhaust tone of the 500 Abarth.

The 5-speed manual transmission in the 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo is designed for high performance, with a 3.35 final drive ratio helping to offer improved acceleration over the standard 500. The 500 Turbo is equipped with larger half shafts to help battle torque steer under hard acceleration while stronger CV joints help put the power to the wheels more reliably. While this drivetrain doesn’t offer quite as impressive fuel economy figures of the lower performance 500, Fiat expects that the 500 Turbo will still reach 34 miles per gallon on the highway. The standard Fiat 500 with the manual transmission offers 38mpg on the highway.

The 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo sounds like an engine package but the engineers didn’t stop there, adding a sport tuned suspension setup with a sportier steering calibration. The 500 Turbo wears unique 16” lightweight wheels with black painted pockets with high performance braking components tucked behind with massive 11.1” brake rotors in the front and red painted calipers all around. All said, the 2013 500 Turbo should packed handling capacities that are just as impressive as the acceleration of this sporty subcompact.

"We listened to our customers" said Tim Kuniskis, Head of FIAT Brand North America. "The new Fiat 500 Turbo is the answer to all the fans that loved the style of our Cinquecento but wanted more power and performance for their daily drive. With 135 horsepower and 150 lb.-ft. of torque, the Fiat 500 Turbo hits the sweet spot between the regular Cinquecento and the high-performance Fiat 500 Abarth. The Fiat 500 Turbo balances and blends the best Italian flavors that our portfolio has to offer, becoming the perfect canvas for customization."

Around the outside, the 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo features a variety of changes that offer a more aggressive look than the standard 500. The front fascia extends almost 3 inches further forward of the Fiat logo and “whiskers” between the headlights, allowing for more clearance room for the 500 Turbo’s twin intercoolers. Along the lower portion of the front fascia, the 500 Turbo has enlarged intake ports to channel cooling air through the intercoolers while also adding to the aggressive design. The front end is finished off with blackened headlight bezels behind smoked lenses that accentuate the darkened front end. Out back, the 500 Turbo sports a high mounted spoiler, gloss black taillight bezels and a two piece lower fascia with a black diffuser wrapped around the polished dual exhaust tips. The 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo is available in seven exterior colors - Argento (silver), Bianco (white), Grigio (gray), Nero (black), Rame (copper), Rosso (red) and all-new Verde Azzurro (green & blue.)

Inside, the 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo packs sport seats, a sport steering wheel and a shifter with contrasting stitching but the big news is the sound system. The 500 Turbo features the new Beats by Dr Dre audio system that omits sound quality that will rival any system on the market – with 6 speakers located throughout the tiny vehicle with an 8” subwoofer, all of which are fed by a 368 watt amplifier.

Another big difference between the 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo and the 500 Abarth is the price, as the 500 Turbo starts at $19,500 compared to the $22,000 starting price of the Abarth. One other downside to the mighty 500 Abarth is the low production volume which has made it tough for Fiat performance enthusiast in some locations to get their hands on a sportier 500. Hopefully Fiat will make enough examples of the 2013 500 Turbo so that everyone who wants one – can get one. Based on the awesome performance measures of the 500 Abarth, the new Fiat 500 Turbo should be an absolute blast to drive with a lower price tag than the premium Abarth models so this could be a trimline that appeals more to someone looking for some spirited driving on a budget.