Is this the first credible competitors to the MINI Cooper S? We won’t know until we get behind the wheel of the US specific Abarth, but we can take a quick look some of the more important stats.

– 160 hp / 170 lb.-ft
– Upgraded suspension with (FSD) Koni front-shock absorbers and a .6 lower ride height
– 10% quicker steering rack
– Larger single position brakes with 11.1-inch rotors
– Abarth-tuned ESC system
– Optional 18.9 lbs 17″ wheels
– Heavy-duty five-speed manual transmission
– no weight given

Promising no? Yet it’s hard for us to forget our less than stellar experience in the 500 Sport earlier this year. Here’s a quick excerpt to remind you:

>The Fiat 500 Sport does not compare favorably to the MINI Cooper in ways an enthusiast would appreciate. The steering is light and the clutch lighter. The manual transmission is vague at best and any propulsion out of the highly acclaimed 101 hp Multi-air Fiat 1.4L four cylinder feels like a happy coincidence. Within a half block behind the wheel of the 500 I was in ‘leisure’ mode whether I liked it or not.

We panned it’s performance in almost every aspect (as compared to the standard Cooper) but praised the cost (and the cost of ownership) considering it’s style and substance. Now that there’s a Cooper S fighter on Fiat lots, it will be fascinating to see how it stacks up. Especially given the impressive spec sheet. Let’s just hope (for Fiat’s sake) it’s a dramatically better car for enthusiasts.

For a refresher, check out our Fiat 500 Sport review.