small, but potent
116 2014 sRt speCIal
And now for something completely
different. The tie-up between chrysler
Group and Fiat s.p.A. has been a huge
success in the U.s. The cute little Fiat 500
has captured the imagination of the
American public and, in the space of just
a few months, made “city cars” genuinely
desirable, arguably for the first time ever!
in most models there is a willing
101hp, 1.4-liter, inline four-cylinder
Multiair engine. But in the Turbo model,
this same unit adds forced induction
that pushes output up to 135hp.
predictably though, here at RACER,
it’s the most powerful model, the 500
Abarth, that has captured our attention.
At 5,500rpm, it’s producing 160 horses
and, given that it’s pulling a car that
weighs little more than 2,500lbs, that’s
enough to launch it from standstill to
60mph in under seven seconds and on
to a theoretical top speed of 127mph.
But that’s not even half of the car’s
appeal. Living up to the iconic Abarth
name (see panel, riGHT), it’s the agility
of the chassis and the enthusiasm of the
rev-happy engine which makes the 500
Abarth such a treat to drive. it’s surely
revealing that in the course of just a week
as a RACER test car, the Abarth was taken
for three long drives just for the fun of it.
none of us could remember the last time
we felt that way about any modestly-priced automobile, let alone a city car. DM
Carlo (née Karl) abarth first started
tuning cars for competition back in 1949
in turin, Italy, and turned his focus to Fiat
products three years later. the principle
was always the same: extract improbable
amounts of power from small,
high-revving but durable engines in small
and compact cars…and then beat the
giants of sports car exotica. It worked!
the abarth brand had become so
successful and famous by the end of
the 1960s that Carlo was able to sell the
team to enzo osella and, more profitably,
sell the brand to Fiat as the foundation
of its new racing department. abarth
prepared rally cars, including the
legendary Fiat 131 (belo W) which scored
20 wins in the european/World Rally
Championship and earned championships
in 1977 (markku alen), ’ 78 (timo salonen)
and ’ 80 (Walter Rohrl).
that was enough to bring abarth cult
status among the cognoscenti, and the
distinctive scorpion badge thereafter
adorned the fastest Fiat models. to this
day, the abarth-powered versions of the
original 500, 600 and 850 models are
still winners in the historic racing scene.
With the Dart, Dodge has without doubt
created one of the best looking cars in
the compact segment of the U.s. car
market, and it looks very different from
its smaller italian cousin, the Alfa romeo
Giulietta, which uses a shorter version
of the same platform.
As the American population continues
to embrace this size of car, it has become
a hotly contested category among all
manufacturers and, much like the classic
muscle cars of the ’60s, the ethos of the
sporting models is putting powerful
engines into compact bodies.
The Dart GT offers a 2.4-liter, inline-four
dodge dart gt
the iconic abarth
scorpion signals that
this 1.4-liter turbo
is in 160hp tune.
that’s enough to turn
the 500 into a city
car with a sting.
Tigershark unit that produces 184hp,
transmitted to the front wheels via
a six-speed manual transmission.
A six-speed auto ’box is an option.
Despite its sporting intent, however,
the Dart GT is also loaded inside, with a
customizable digital display on the
dashboard, heated front seats that adjust
every which way, nappa leather seating,
heated leather-wrapped steering-wheel,
Dodge’s user-friendly Uconnect system
accessed via an 8.4in. touchscreen and
which includes Bluetooth functionality,
universal garage door-opener… Actually,
for the full list, go to www.dodge.com.
The handsome 18in. five-spoke wheels are unique to
the Dart GT model, as are dual bright exhaust tips and
Hyper Black crosshair surround in the front grille.
a CompaCt CaR WitH attitUde
WHY tHe stInGeRs
are Born Winners