Speculation abounds of a Fiat 500-based, Abarth-fettled coupe, which will apparently launch sometime in 2010 and become the third model in Abarth's performance lineup.
The Abarth Coupe, as British car mag Auto Express calls it, will use the same front-engine, front-wheel-drive underpinnings as the Fiat 500, but is clothed in a far sexier targa-top roadster body. Previous rumours of an Abarth coupe had the low-slung Italian riding on a modified Lotus Elise platform, but it seems that cost and parts-sharing have pushed Abarth to stick with the 500's FWD platform.
But don't let the lack of RWD fool you, for if AE's sources are on the money then the FWD Abarth Coupe should be a real rip-snorter of a machine. An alloy body keeps weight low and allows the Coupe to make the most of it's 101kW and 180Nm of torque, while a torque apportioning e-diff channels just the right amount of power to each front wheel during cornering.
Those seeking more grunt may be interested to know that an uprated 'esse-esse' version boasting 118kW and 230Nm may also be on the cards. Both engines are likely to be based on the 500 Abarth's 1.4 litre turbocharged unit.
Tipping the scales at just over 1000kg, the Abarth Coupe still won't be light enough to make it a serious sports car though. With 0-96kph times for the regular version and hi-po variant estimated to be around 8 and 7 seconds respectively, a FWD Elise this aint.
BUT, if the finished product looks anything like AE's renderings then all will easily be forgiven. A gaping front airdam, an aggressively low roofline, supercar-style buttresses and vents on everything from the bonnet to the fenders to the rear bumper make this one sexy mama. One that we'd be happy to be seen in no matter how fast it can blitz the quarter mile. Fiat, are you listening? Build this, and build it now.