2010 Abarth 500 esseesse - Photo by TEHCRAZEHCATMAN
Equal parts cute Italian runabout and hard-charging smile generator, the Fiat Abarth 500 esseesse packs a lot of charisma into such a small package. However, one peek at the twin tailpipes peeking out from beneath the rear valance, or the athletic hatch-mounted spoiler, will tell you that this diminutive Italian is pumped up with go-fast bits. The 1.4-liter four makes enough turbocharged ponies to sling the Abarth from apex to apex without breaking a sweat. Not that the handling’s been ignored; technical courses like the TopGear test track will demonstrate the Abarth’s remarkable sure-footedness, derived from a lower ride height and cockpit-adjustable sport suspension. As balanced (and fun) as the Abarth 500 is right out of the box, Fiat is a blank slate and the Upgrade Shop begs the question: can you build a better hot hatch?