Multi-model Fiat 500 Lineup Heading to U.S. in 2011
Fiat has confirmed that the marque's first offering in the U.S. will be the diminutive but high-profile 500. According to a report in Automotive News, the Italian automaker and new owner of Chrysler plans to introduce at least four versions of the car here -- a hatchback, convertible, station wagon and a performance hatch variant with traditional "Abarth" badging -- starting in early 2011. Where the 1.4-liter engine that will be fitted to cars sold here makes 99 horsepower in standard form, Euro-spec Abarth variants turn out 135 and 160 turbocharged ponies. These hottest members of the 500 family also come with a full sport suspension, upgraded interior trim and bolder bodywork bits. A four-wheel-drive 500 model is also reportedly under consideration for the U.S.
Resurrecting a classic Fiat model of the past, the "new" 500 has proven extremely popular on the continent and won overwhelming acclaim as the 2008 European Car of the Year. Whether a vehicle that Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne refers to as the company's "iPod" can manage the same degree of success here remains to be seen. So far, there's been no word on pricing for the 500, which is expected to be built at a Chrysler plant somewhere in the U.S. or at the company's Toluca, Mexico, facility.