Fiat Plans Turbocharged 500T Sport, Abarth Convertible for U.S. According to Gov’t Documents
Fiat is planning to introduce a 500T Sport for the 2013 model year, according to documents the company has filed with NHTSA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). This seems to corroborate rumors of a new model that would be positioned between the standard Fiat 500 and the Abarth, which would feature a less powerful version of the U.S.-spec Abarth’s 160-horse turbo four. (The T in 500T is for “turbo,” of course.)
The evidence includes a chart filed with NHTSA, which explains how to decode VIN numbers; it clearly shows a “500T Sport” listed among Fiat’s 2013-model-year offerings. Fiat applies Pop, Sport, and Lounge to the base 500 as trim levels, but this 500T Sport is listed separately from those, as well as apart from the 500C convertible models. Among the convertibles, though, we now see an Abarth listed for the first time. No real surprise there—the car already exists—but it’s a vehicle Fiat hasn’t publicly confirmed for the U.S.
The 500T’s introduction is further supported with CARB paperwork released last month. Each engine that will be used for sale in California receives its own certification, even if it will be used in multiple vehicles. California certified a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine for use in several Dodge Dart models, the Fiat 500 Abarth, and another Fiat 500. As of now, the Abarth is the only 500 to use a turbo 1.4—but this engine is exactly what we expect to see in the 500T Sport.
This strategy wouldn’t be new for Fiat. In Europe, the 500 Abarth makes just 133 hp in regular trim (more power is available via “Esseesse”—or “SS”—kits). Figure on something in the 130-hp range for the 500T, then. Last month, a user at Fiat500USA.com, a fan site for the Cinquecento, posted pictures of what they say is the 500T. In addition to an elongated snout—which accommodates the turbocharger’s intercooler—it sports Abarth-ish bodywork. Given all of this, we’re pretty confident the 500T will debut sometime within the next 12 months. A spokesperson for Fiat declined to comment.