16 May 2008

Abarth. Hotter

This is the 197bhp Asetto Corse, the racing Abarth 500. You want it

Abarth 500

In the June issue of Top Gear magazine - on sale May 17 - you can read all about the brilliant little Abarth 500, the car that could just be the finest thing to emerge from Italy since the aqueduct. And sanitation. And roads. And irrigation.

But if a mere 135bhp from your city car doesn't sound like quite enough, how about this: the 500 Abarth Asetto Corse, the racing version of the hotted-up Cinq?

With a Garrett turbocharger and reinforced bits, the Abarth's 1.4-litre T-Jet engine has been boosted and toughened up to an impressive 197bhp, with 220lb ft of torque thrown in for good measure.

That all heads to the front wheels - 17-inch white-painted forged aluminium rims, since you ask - through a six-speed 'box (the regular Abarth only gets a five-speed).

It's a proper race car on the inside, too: the Asetto Corse gets a full roll cage and a racing seat mounted further back in the car for better weight distribution. Aero? But of course: take a look at that fat front splitter and rear spoiler. You want this car.

Abarth is building a mere 50 Asetto Corses, and is already planning a single-make race series for next year. We don't know yet how much it'll cost to be a part of the 500 racing action, but we're guessing there's a sizeable queue forming already.

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