Fiat has launched the 500 Abarth in the US, and has forsaken Jennifer Lopez in adverts for the Abarth for a fiery Italian. Sort of.
Fiat had high hopes for the Fiat 500 in the US, hoping to emulate the success MINI has enjoyed by tickling the trendy button in US car buyers’ brains.
But that plan hasn’t been an unmitigated success. Talk to car lovers in California and they’ll say there’s a Fiat 500 outside every coffee shop; same in New York. So the urban trendies seem to be on message in the US with the 500. Sadly, it seems most of the rest of the States isn’t.
In fact, we’re hearing that there are lay-offs at the Chrysler engine plant building the 1.4 litre engine for the 500 as Fiat wait for sales – projected at 50k for this year, but only around 16k so far – to catch up with supply.
But maybe the arrival of a hot 500 – in the shape of the Fiat 500 Abarth – will give the 500 more profile and new sales? Fiat certainly hope so, and have aimed the Abarth directly at red-bloodied men with an advertising campaign featuring a very sexy Italian woman. Except she’s not.
Beautiful and sexy though she is, model Catrinel Menghia is actually Romanian. Not that it really matters. The 500 pretends to be Italian but is as American as Apple Pie Nachos (it’s actually built in Mexico).
But maybe, just maybe, the combination of the beautiful Catrinel Menghia and a Fiat 500 Abarth (Fiat are tagging the ‘Fiat’ name in front of ‘Abarth’ to stop Americans getting confused) with 160 horses (it seems Americans are getting the esseesse spec as standard) and handling like a go-kart, will bring male buyers in to the 500 fold in the US.
Fiat 500 Abarth USA Photo Gallery
(31 photos – click any thumbnail for full gallery)
Fiat 500 Abarth USA Seduction Video