The only engine available at the time of its North American launch was a 1.4-liter, four-cylinder unit that produced 101 hp. While this engine is OK, it is not exciting, not the least bit. What this model needed was a boost. Fiat did that when they introduced the Abarth version. While the engine size remained the same, the Abarth version had a turbo-charger that increased power to 160 hp. That grunt is certainly welcome, but these models are a bit on the pricey side.
So what Fiat did was to introduce an in-between model, and that is where the 2013MY 500 Turbo comes in. This has the same motor as the Abarth, but with a detuned turbo charger, but you still get 135 hp and 150 lb/ft of torque.
Considering there is only 1,124 kg to move about, this Turbo model is seriously exciting to drive. Use its five-speed manual gearbox properly (no auto offered with this model) and you will get from 0-100 km/h in about 8-seconds. It feels much faster than that actually.
Then there is the handling. It is an old cliche to describe a good cars handling as, “it handles like it’s on rails,” but in the case of this 500 Turbo, it is actually true.
I have driven cars that cost four times as much as this vehicle and aren’t this much fun to drive. So, with a starting price of just $17,495 (in Canada)- it is a stunning deal. It also only drank 7.2-liters/100km in my week, which was full of spirited driving.
Any flaws? Yes, I had to give it back after a week.