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German tuner turns the cheeky little Fiat 500 into the hottest of all hatches

Why it matters to you

This German tuning house proves it's possible to have BMW M5-like performance in a package you can park in downtown New York City.

If J.D. Power ranked cars by cuteness instead of quality, the Fiat 500 would come out on top every single time. Design is one of the 500’s biggest selling points, but German tuner Pogea Racing is out to prove the retro-chic Italian econobox doesn’t have to look adorable.

Pogea transformed the 500 Abarth into a wide-bodied monster that doesn’t know whether it wants to star in Fast & Furious or Mad Max. The front fascia, the hood, and the front fenders are all made out of carbon fiber. The air curtains cut into the front fenders to reduce turbulence in the wheel wells, while the tall air vents right behind the doors look cool while emphasizing the 500’s extra width.

It would be credible — not to mention awesome — if we told you power came from a mid-mounted V6 engine borrowed from the Alfa Romeo parts bin, but that’s not the case. Surprisingly, the engine bay is still home to a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission that spins the front wheels. Nearly every mechanical component has been modified, however.

Pogea upgraded the engine with forged pistons, reinforced valve springs, a special head gasket, new cams, and a completely revised turbocharger, among other modifications. The end result is jaw-dropping. The 500’s turbo four now generates 404 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 328 pound-feet of torque at 3,350 rpm. How do you say “hello, torque steer!” in Italian?

The hatchback hits 60 mph from a standstill in 4.7 seconds — about on par with a Porsche 718 Cayman — and it goes up to a GPS-verified top speed of 178 mph. Pogea points out its Abarth’s acceleration is limited by wheel spin; install stickier tires on the front axle and it could easily perform the zero-to-60 sprint in under four seconds.

Act fast if you want one. Pogea Racing will manufacture just five examples of the hot-rodded 500, including the one pictured above in our photo gallery. That means four more will be built, and at about 60,000 euros (roughly $64,000) each they’ll undoubtedly find a new home faster than you can call up the company and say “build me one!”