The car goes pretty well because of its low mass. You find yourself taking the ideal line within your lane because there's so much room to spare. The light, unassisted steering is perfect in feel and weight; you can almost think the little car around corners.
Place this ultimate tuned original Fiat 500 next to its newly minted descendant and you realize how tiny small cars were in that era. When you climb in, you're almost wearing it. The fact that the tiny Abarth has just 38 hp is almost irrelevant because it's so light.
Swish and refined by comparison, the new Fiat 500 is well designed and well made, with interior and exterior details that are a delight to the enthusiast's eye. It's also large enough to carry four adults in reasonable comfort and its hatchback and folding rear seats make it a practical only car for a young couple.
The new Fiat 500 is right at the start of its tuning curve and it remains to be seen how successful the many companies that have started to tune it will be. This is mainly because the Fiat is cheaper than the MINI and so its buyer profile is different. However, there's no question that Fiat will continue to sell as many of these cars as it can make for the foreseeable future, because as a fashion statement, the image and price of this future cult car are spot-on.
Hamann Fiat 500
LayoutTransverse front engine, front-wheel drive
Engine1.4-liter inline four, dohc, 16-valve, Hamann sport exhaust
SuspensionHamann sport springs
Wheels and TiresHamann HM Sportivo, 7x17215/35
PerformancePeak Power: 100 hp @ 6000 rpmPeak Torque: 96 lb-ft @ 42500-60 mph: 10.4 sec.Top Speed: 113 mph