Mike Stevens | Nov 15, 2011

Fiat's most... "hardcore" version of the convertible 500 has hit Australia, with the sales debut this week of the 500C Abarth Esseesse (yes, that's "SS").

Priced at $38,900, the top-shelf 500C is $10,000 dearer than the regular model and $4000 more than the hardtop Essesse - but $31,100 less than the daft limited-edition 500 Abarth Ferrari 695 Tributo.

For nearly $40k, you'll get the same turbocharged 1.4 litre four-cylinder engine driving the hatch, producing 118kW at 5500rpm and 201Nm of torque at 2750rpm. Kick it into Sport mode, and there's an extra 29Nm to play with.

Fuel consumption for the little powerhouse is listed at 6.5 l/100km, just 0.2 more than the regular 500C.

Power is transferred to the front wheels through the same automatic transmission found in the 695 Tributo; it also gets a set of paddle shifters.

2011 fiat 500c abarth esseesse australia 04

Weighing in at 1075kg, the 500C is 40kg heavier than the hardtop, leading to a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds - two hundredths of a second short of the hatch.

The suspension setup is MacPherson struts up front and a torsion-beam rear. Sitting behind the 17-inch alloy wheels are 284mm and 240mm brake discs, drilled and ventilated at the front and drilled at the rear.

Inside, the 500C Abarth Esseesse gets climate-control, power windows, MP3 playback and Bluetooth connectivity, along with a sports steering wheel and seats package.

Safety features include seven airbags, ESC, ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution, hydraulic brake assist, tyre pressure monitoring and hill-hold.

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