Fiat is likely to bring an Abarth-tuned version of the 500X crossover to market in 2017 as the Italian company looks to expand its line-up. While plans for a more powerful, Abarth-branded version of the 124 Spider, Fiat’s most recent new model, are well known, the tuning house is also considering a breathed-on version of the 500X, with the resulting model acting as a rival to the likes of the Mini Countryman JCW and Nissan Juke Nismo RS.
Nothing is official at this stage, but Abarth boss Paolo Gagliardo has spoken candidly about his desire to expand the Abarth range beyond its current 500-based models. “We want to keep growing and stabilise at a certain level,” he told Automotive News Europe, while admitting that the UK and Italy are currently two of Abarth’s biggest markets. Gagliardo also confirmed that the Fiat brand wants to make a return to rallying, and while it was initially suggested that the Abarth 124 Spider would be the favoured choice to enter the World Rally Championship, a performance-inspired 500X would be another option.
The 500X is available with the same 1.4 Multiair II petrol engine that’s offered in the 124 Spider, in both cases producing 138bhp. The Multiair II motor is known to be highly adaptable, and Abarth engineers have hinted that up to 170bhp will be extracted for their version of the 124 Spider. A similar amount is expected for the Abarth 500X, with drive sent to all four wheels through either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic.
By comparison, both the Mini Countryman JCW and the Nissan Juke Nismo RS produce 215bhp from their respective turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engines.As with other Abarth models, the 500X is likely to receive significant interior and exterior styling upgrades, new badging and graphics and distinctive wheel designs. The model is expected to be sold worldwide, but with a particular focus on the US, where one in five Fiat 500s are currently sold as Abarths.