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Fiat 500s gets a sexy Abarth makeover, but is petrol or diesel the best buy?

fiat 500 s

The success of the 500 has been so phenomenal that it comes in almost every variation - even a seven-seater.

Just as we go to print, news is filtering through of the 500X, a crossover with genuine 4x4 capabilities.

So it begs the question: Why did it take Fiat so long to come up with an afford- able, extra-sporty little number?

Well, the wait is over as the 500S rolls into town, promising a car with the looks and feel of the mighty Abarth for little more than a couple of grand extra.

For the uninitiated, Abarth is if you like the souped-up department within Fiat - what Cosworth was to Ford.

Ironically, the 500 Abarth was one of my very first test cars - an experience I'm unlikely to forget.

Nostalgia aside, the 500S is an awesome-looking little machine, especially in Electronica Blue (€450 option).

Thanks to the sports package that comes as standard, you are treated to 15-inch alloys, full body kit, tinted rear windows, rear spoiler, chrome exhausts and chrome door handles.

Inside, the racing theme continues with a chunky Abarth leather steering wheel with mounted audio controls, 500S logo-embossed sports seats and snazzy red and chrome gear knob.

Other kit includes Bluetooth with voice recognition, climate control, TFT instrument cluster with digital display (showing all the car stats), stop/start and sports/eco button.

Like the original 500 line-up, the S model will be powered by a choice three engines - a 1.2 litre petrol generating 69bhp, a 1.3 diesel with 95bhp and our favourite, the Twinair with 85bhp.

We tested both this week, and although the diesel had oceans of power and torque it somehow lacked the personality of the punchy two-cylinder.

The noise from this little powerhouse never fails to put a smile on your face.

Couple that with the go-kart drive and nippiness and it's fun, fun, fun all the way.

The 875cc engine is also returning an astounding 70mpg (3.6litres/100km), and with emissions kept at 92g/km it costs only €180 a year to tax.

The oil burner's stats hardly differ, with the same road tax and slightly better mpg (3.1litres/100km) and costs just over €1,000 more.

Unless you are doing savage mileage, it is hard to justify the diesel, and the lack of acoustics from the tailpipes will be enough to sway any budding petrolhead. An awesome little car.

Prices for the Fiat 500S start at €17,050.