Amped-Up Abarth

By Tim Suddard
Nov 27, 2013 | Fiat | Posted in Product Reviews , News and Notes | From the Dec. 2013 issue | Never miss an article

Our staff is pretty high on the new Fiat Abarth. Even in stock form, this small, light, retro-themed car offers a lot of bang for the buck.

Now, well-known tuner Neuspeed has chosen the Fiat Abarth for its latest project. Known principally for its work on Volkswagens, this nearly four-decade-old firm has started a new division, named Neu-F, to tune and sell tuning parts for Fiat’s great new car.

Starting with the chassis, Neuspeed engineer Aaron Neuman has installed proper Koni shocks. While Fiat claims that the Abarth comes with dampers that feature Koni’s FSD technology, they’re more of an OE-grade unit. Neuman did some testing and decided that the aftermarket-grade Konis were the proper answer for better handling.

The stock Abarth already has a pretty great chassis for track days, but the Neuspeed Abarth has some subtle changes. Neuman has been tuning cars for a long time, so he quickly realized the already track-oriented Abarth didn’t need radical changes. He swapped the stock 195-lbs./ in. front and 220-lbs./in. rear springs for 220-lbs./in. fronts and 225- to 250-lbs./in. rears.

The change, he explains, was primarily to lower the static height of the car, not to significantly stiffen spring rates. This lowers the Abarth about an inch and, in our testing, did not overtly affect ride quality.

The next part of the package is a larger front anti-roll bar. The original front bar is 22mm in diameter, while the Neu-F bar is a threeway- adjustable 25mm piece offering a 67-percent increase in stiffness.

The final suspension modification is a larger rear torsion bar. Technically, Neuspeed notes, the car doesn’t have a rear anti-roll bar. Instead, the beam suspension uses a torsion bar to limit roll. The stock piece measures 22mm in diameter, while the Neuspeed piece is 28mm across.

All together, the stiffer bars and slightly uprated springs produce a nice, tight chassis. While we feared that the significantly bigger bar would lead to understeer, that wasn’t the case.

The biggest change to the Neu-F Abarth surrounds the brakes. The already adequate but certainly not aweinspiring Abarth brakes have been upgraded to Wilwoods featuring six-piston, 11.2- inch Dynapro units up front. We’ve used a similar setup on a couple of our project cars and have come away impressed with how much bang for the buck these Wilwood brakes offer.

The Neu-F package is rounded out with a smoothshifting short-shift kit and very light wheels–16.5 pounds each. On the car we tested, those wheels were shod in 215/40ZR17 BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW tires.

Under the hood, Neuman has been playing with turbos and cold-air intakes. However, he tells us that despite the chatter from other tuners, the sophisticated factory ECU nearly instantly returns power to stock outputs. Neuspeed is famous for their chip upgrades, however, and Neuman feels confident that this won’t be the first factory computer to stop him from making his modifications. The one engine change is a cat-back exhaust system. This system is actually quieter, not louder, than stock.

While we initially loved the rasp of the stock Abarth system, the Neu-F folks claim that it gets buzzy on the highway, and they wanted to offer their customers a quieter option.

During our short drive, the first thing we noticed was the effectiveness of the huge Wilwood brakes. A stock Abarth brakes well enough, but with these Wilwoods, we must say that we can’t remember a street car ever stopping more quickly.

The exhaust system has a nice note and is definitely not offensive. The short shifter works better than most. Overall, the already fun Abarth is that much better. The handling is a bit tauter, the car is more satisfying, and the brakes are like something from a Porsche 911 track car.

Well done, Neuspeed and the new Neu-F division. Prices are at their website, We found the parts to be pretty reasonably priced, and you can pick and choose what you need to improve your Abarth. We’ve visited Neuspeed many times and can vouch for the quality of their parts, the legitimacy of their engineering, and their reputation for great customer service.

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