A short spy video shot in Italy by an intrepid biker suggests Fiat will take on the MINI Countryman John Cooper Works and the Nissan Juke Nismo with a more powerful version of the new 500X crossover prepared by Abarth. When it goes on sale next year, the range-topping 500X will earn the honor of being Abarth’s first-ever crossover.
Official technical details are few and far between but Italian media outlets speculate the hot-rodded crossover could be powered by an evolution of the turbocharged 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine that is found under the hood of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde and the 4C. If that’s the case, the 240-horsepower turbo four will likely be bolted to a dual-clutch automatic transmission controlled by shift paddles, though whether the 500X Abarth will be front- or all-wheel drive is not known. Bigger brakes all around will keep the extra power in check.
The upgraded drivetrain will be complemented by a long list of exterior enhancements including 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped by low-profile tires, a more muscular-looking front bumper with a deep air vent, side skirts on both ends, a trunk-mounted spoiler, and twin exhaust pipes out back. Additionally, the Abarth will forgo all off-road prowess and ride noticeably lower than a stock 500X thanks to a sport-tuned suspension designed to keep body roll in check.
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The motorsport-inspired treatment will continue inside the cabin with an Abarth-specific instrument cluster, a three-spoke flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminum pedals, and Recaro bucket seats for the front passengers.
Unsurprisingly, Fiat executives are keeping silent about the 500X Abarth. However, we suspect Abarth’s first-ever crossover will be ready in time for the Frankfurt Motor Show that will open its doors next September, meaning it could go on sale in approximately a year as a 2017 model.