I’ve never really been one for sport compacts as they’re just not my thing. Last night however I had the pleasure of meeting a few buddies for dinner in lower Manhattan and as it usually happens we started talking about automobiles. If you would’ve added up our collective stables you would’ve come away with some damn fine offerings. We had a few vintage Dodge’s a Superperformance Cobra, two wicked Audi’s in the form of an R8 and RS4, a stunning 1989 Porsche 930 Turbo, a Ferrari F430 and the newest member of the friend garage, a Fiat 500 695 Tributo.
This wicked little bugger popped out of the automotive womb as a standard Fiat 500. It was tiny and cute with a teeny-weeny presence that anyone could fall in love with. Then something bad happened. Abarth, who is Fiat’s performance division, managed to get their chubby Italian fingers on one. They then sat down around the table, had a few glasses of red wine and some pasta and began to scheme as to how to transform the little 500 from a mild mannered compact into a pasta punching powerhouse.
The engine was massaged and tweaked to bump power output from 133 hp to 180 hp. They then added 17-inch wheels, Brembo brakes and an electromechanical transmission with paddle shifters. In speaking with my buddy last evening his enthusiasm for this little red rocket got me all sorts of excited. He then said that he has more fun driving the 500 at times than his Ferrari F430… that my friends is a big statement. He described the driving experience of the 695 to that of a go-kart. He also stated that, handling, braking and even the exhaust note were simply divine and that throwing the little Fiat around was a true joy. Unfortunately we don’t have the Fiat 500 here in the States (yet), but with the recent merger of Chrysler and Fiat we may just get lucky. Hey, you never know.