The is sharpening its tiny fangs ahead of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, thanks to a pair of Abarth-tuned models that emphasize the car's cuteness while giving it a serious performance jolt. The Abarth 500 "Cabrio Italia" is a limited-edition model finished in "Abu Dhabi" bluepaintwork and featuring satin chrome badging. Under the stubby hood is a turbocharged 160-bhp 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that, according to Fiat, hustles the little cabrio to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds. A five-speed manual transmission is standard.
Swinging even further into the realm of all-out driving fun is the Abarth 695 Competizione. Abarth calls this a street-legal racing car, and the specs back up the boasts. The rear seat has been entirely removed, turning the 500 into a true 2-seater with a rear roll-bar in its place. Abarth has tweaked the turbo 1.4-liter to produce 180-bhp, and fitted it to an automatic transmission with two operating modes, Street and Track. Street puts the gearbox in full auto mode, while Track allows the drive to select gears via steering wheel-mounted shift controls. Except this hotter powertrain to trim the 0-60 mph time down to 7.0 seconds.
This is the same engineering setup found in the , the Fiat 500's homage to the legendary Italian automaker. Unfortunately, a price-tag of nearly $50,000 meant this pocket rocket was only for the truly committed (or truly crazy, depending on your point of view). Fiat has already promised to bring an Abarth 500 to the U.S. next year. We're hoping some of these wilder versions – especially the 695 Competizione – also get the go-ahead, albeit at a price point that doesn't pit this Italian sub-compact against Porsche and BMW.