Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

The Long Wait Is Over

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

The Long Wait Is Over

Article excerpt


FOR years hot hatch fans have been waiting for a true successor to the iconic Peugeot 205 GTi. Their patience is about to be rewarded with arrival of a potent creation based on the Fiat 500.

The Italian mini marvel has been given a sporty makeover by Abarth - and the result is astonishing.

The Abarth 500 is fast, fun, definitely distinctive and above all, hot.

With a turbocharged 1.4-litre engine pumping out 135bhp, the little Abarth can sprint from standstill to 60mph in 7.9 seconds and hit a theoretical maximum of 128mph.

If that's not enough, there is even a hotter version, tweaked to deliver 160bhp, which will knock off 0 to 60 in 7.4 seconds.

It's brisk, lively, sounds great under acceleration and is brilliantly responsive.

And that's its USP. Since the advent of modernday electronics such as ABS, ESP and power steering, little quick cars have felt sterile - there's been plenty of power but little feedback.

In the Abarth that is all resolved and at last here is a car with almost the same go-kart feel as the legendary 205.

All this is guaranteed to put a smile on the even the most enthusiastic driver's face. As Abarth puts it, this is the car which changes Mr Bean into Sebastien Loeb.

The Abarth 500 costs from pounds 13,600 - pounds 16,100 for the more powerful Esseesse version - and comes fully kitted with the exception of sat-nav.

It has all the state-of-the-art anti-slip and slide electronics and even a torque transfer control system to generate optimum traction. But the genius of the Abarth treatment has been to make them non-intrusive.

Uprated brakes and suspension are de rigueur on hot hatches and the Abarth sits half-an-inch lower than a standard 500. It's also slightly longer with a deeper front air dam to accommodate the turbo machinery under the bonnet. …

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