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The Frankfurt Auto Show played host to two new special editions of FIAT's recently released 500 hatchback. While not confirmed for the US, American buyers would likely welcome the new editions due to their improved performance, expressive styling and exciting upgrades.

First up among the new FIAT 500 variants is the 500 Cabrio Italia. Intended as a tribute to Italian design and a celebration of the nation's 150th anniversary of unity, the Cabrio Italia is distinguished by its unique "Blue Abu Dhabi" exterior color along with its black soft top and tinted rear windows. Inside, the 500 Cabrio Italia features a special-edition chrome dash plate recognizing the model's limited production run, which FIAT says will include just 150 units.

In addition to its unique trim, the 500 Cabrio Italia also features engine upgrades courtesy of Abarth, FIAT's tuning arm. There's now 160 horsepower on tap with an overboost function activated by a console-mounted sport button. The enhancements help the 500 Cabrio Italia scoot from 0 to 60 mph in just 7.4 seconds and reach a top speed above 130 mph. But despite the added power, FIAT says the 500 Cabrio Italia is still very fuel-efficient, noting that the convertible can achieve up to 36 miles per gallon.

Also announced in Frankfurt was the sporty FIAT 500 Abarth 695 Competizione. Featuring an athletic 180 horsepower, the Abarth-tuned 695 Competizione includes several high-performance upgrades over the standard 500 model, and will likely reach 60 mph in less than 7 seconds. Standard interior features include Alcantara seat inserts, a plethora of Abarth logos and a paddle-shift transmission that allows for manual or fully automatic driving depending on the driver's choice.

But the biggest change to the 500 Abarth 695 Competizione is in the backseat - or rather where the backseat should be. Instead there's a roll bar painted in the car's unique Grigio Competizione Opaco finish. In addition to the limited-edition paint, exterior changes include unique 17-inch alloy wheels, red Brembo brake calipers and a more aggressive front fascia.

While both the 500 Cabrio Italia and 500 Abarth 695 Competizione will go on sale soon in Europe, it's unclear if either model will make it to the United States. If they do, expect them to command a premium price over the standard model due to their extra performance and unique features.


See more coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.


JEFFREY ARCHER is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on
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