Coming Soon Automatic Abarths and Turbos
Chrysler on Monday started building the 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth and Abarth Cabrio (convertible) with a six-speed automatic transmission to broaden the appeal of the performance version of the small city car.
The 2015, which looks the same outside but gets a redone interior, goes on sale later this summer.
Until now, the Abarth models have been available only with a manual transmission, which in the U.S. limited the pool of buyers because few drivers want — or know how to drive — a stick compared with buyers in Europe.
Production began at the Fiat Chrysler plan in Toluca, Mexico, of the Abarth with an optional six-speed automatic that was specially tuned for the performance model. It is paired with the car’s turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that delivers 157 horsepower and 183 pound-feet of torque.
“Accessible performance has always been a hallmark of the Abarth name,” said Jason Stoicevich, Chrysler Group’s head of the Fiat brand for North America, in a statement.
Stoicevich said adding the automatic transmission should enable a new group of customers to drive the Abarth lineup.
“Abarth sales increased more than 16% during this year, and we expect this sales success to continue with the launch of this new automatic transmission,” Stoicevich said.
The convertible proved popular in May, with a 66% increase in sales of the Abarth Cabrio.
Production also began on Monday of the regular 2015 Fiat 500 Turbo model, which also has an optional automatic transmission.
Overall, sales of the Fiat lineup were up 18% in May and 17% so far this year. The original 500 has seen sales fall but the brand has added the larger 500L which has added to the total.