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Fiat Offering Track Day for Abarth Buyers

Many makers offer track time with high-performance models.

by on Jan.17, 2012

Fiat's 160-hp 500 Abarth will come with a free day of track time, much like partner Chrysler offers those who buy its SRT muscle cars.

Fiat’s little 500 may be cute but it doesn’t quite fall into the performance category – or, at least, it hasn’t until now.  The new Abarth edition transforms what Italians know as the Cinquecento into a pint-sized muscle car.

The new version will boost the base Fiat 500’s output from a modest 101 horsepower to 160 by adding a turbocharger to its 1.4-liter MultiAir engine.  The Abarth edition also features what Fiat describes as a “track-tuned” suspension.

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Buyers will have a chance to find out what that means.  As part of the $22,000 purchase price the maker is including a full day of track time.  Specific details likely won’t be available until around the time the first Fiat 500 Abarths go on sale in U.S., in late March, but a spokesman said the plan is to stage as many as 20 Richard Petty Driving Experience events around the country this year.


Chrysler Revives SRT Performance Brand with Three New Models Coming

Gilles named new SRT chief in management shake-up.

by on Jun.08, 2011

The new Dodge Charger SRT8 will be part of a revived, standalone performance brand.

Who says performance cars are dead in an era of $4 gas? Not Chrysler, it seems.  The maker is bringing back the SRT brand and plans to start expanding its line-up later this year.

Ralph Gilles, who had been serving as CEO of the Dodge division, will now serve as brand boss for SRT – which is short for Street and Racing Technology.  Gilles will continue in his dual role as Chrysler’s design director.

The move is just one in a series of senior executive management changes.

The SRT brand originally appeared in 2002, when the Detroit maker announced it would “create a line of industry-leading performance vehicles and parts.”  It was a time when performance products were making a comeback, and Chrysler began putting out SRT versions of a wide range of products.  But, in recent years, as fuel prices began to soar and the market shifted from muscle to mileage.


At the moment, there is only one SRT model in the entire Chrysler line-up, the 2011 Dodge Challenger.  But for 2012, the company will add three more: a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, a Dodge Charger SRT8 and a Chrysler 300 SRT8.