Written by Robin Brown ▼

Abarth 500 is Top Gear's choice for best hot hatch

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The Fiat-derived Abarth 500 has blasted off with Top Gear's Best Hot Hatch, despite the fact that, like fellow award winner the C3 Picasso, it's not on sale in the UK yet.

Due in February 2009, the 135bhp Abarth 500 version has already received 200 orders, and was described by Top Gear as “frisky and fun" and“an irresistible piece of Italian tailoring".

“This is a good start for the Abarth 500," says Ivan Gibson, manager, Abarth brand UK. “We have had considerable success already with the Grande Punto version, and now we are looking forward to launching the 500 in the UK. Endorsements from important and influential media such as Top Gear magazine are great news and show us that we are doing things absolutely right with this exciting Abarth brand."

Powered by a 1.4-litre 16-valve turbocharged engine similar to the one in the Abarth Grande Punto, the Abarth 500 delivers a maximum 135bhp at 5500 rpm and has a peak torque of 152lb-ft at 3000 rpm when ‘Sport’ mode is deployed.

It goes on sale in the UK in February priced at under £14,000 OTR. An uprated esseesse version, boosting power to 160bhp, will also become available here.