Fiat 500 vs. Abarth Part 4: Powertrain

Fiat 500 vs. Abarth Part 4: Powertrain

The differences between the Fiat 500 and its racing-inspired Abarth version are too many to list in a single post. So instead I’m continuing a four part series of posts that focus on the details of each aspect of the car: bodyinterior, handling, and powertrain.

Now that Fiat has unveiled the American version of the Fiat 500 Abarth, it is time for us to dig into the details of the engine and transmission specs.  In a nutshell, it looks like the Abarth has taken the 1.4-liter MultiAir engine that’s in the basic 500 and amped it up with improved power, torque, speed and transmission.

Power

The Abarth definitely delivers on power. Until the specs were released, we weren’t sure whether they’d go for the basic European Abarth (133 hp) or the upgraded Abarth Esseesse specs, but luckily they went for the latter.

By installing a new turbocharger that makes more efficient use of engine exhaust, Fiat has increased the Abarth’s horsepower to 160. That’s almost 60 percent more power than what you get in the base 500, which delivers 101 hp.

The new induction system involves two new intercoolers to reduce heat generated by the turbocharger, which you can see in the two new “nostrils” at the front of the car.

The whole process is coordinated by an Abarth-tuned powertrain control module (PCM), which monitors all engine functions and calibrates them for highest efficiency.

Torque

Fiat has definitely recognized the importance of torque, building the Abarth to max out at 170 lb-ft at 2,500-4,000 RPM. Compare that to the base model’s 98 ft-lbs maximum! For the statistically minded, that’s a 70 percent increase over the original.

That said, the Abarth’s full torque will only be accessible when the Sport mode is activated. Otherwise, peak torque is limited to 150 lb-ft.

In the Sport mode, there’s also a new Torque Transfer Control (TTC) System. The TTC system works with the Abarth’s PCM to improve performance in hard cornering. The TTC operates everything from the lock in the front differential to the braking system.

Transmission

There are two key issues that may disappoint potential buyers of the new model: as of now, there are only 5 speeds in the Abarth, and no automatic transmission.

The 5 speed manual transmission in the Abarth is an improvement on the 500’s, but due to American crash safety rules, the Abarth had to sacrifice a 6th speed to strengthen the chassis to meet regulations.

Rumors persist that Fiat will offer an upgrade kit with a future Abarth model, but the engine’s platform manager, Michael T. Vincent, has said that the American Abarth has reached the limit of the engine’s power capabilities.

But that said, it is still an improvement on the 500’s transmission. By using larger shafts (28.1 mm in diameter vs. 22.8 mm in diameter), it delivers 53 percent more in torsional strength.

Overall, you’ll be getting a 3.35 final-drive ratio.

Fuel Efficiency

We’re still waiting to find out the EPA rating, but expectations are that it won’t be worse than the 500’s 30/38 mpg city/highway efficiency rating. However, Chrysler claims that the new MultiAir engine will deliver a 15 percent increase in low engine rpm torque, 7.5 percent increase in fuel efficiency and a 10 percent reduction in CO2 emissions.

If you’re interested, you can read the complete specs sheet for the Fiat 500 Abarth.

This is a guest post by Yashoda Sampath.