Fiat to offer 500 Abarth with automatic transmission

The 500 Abarth won\'t be a manual-only model for too much longer.

Fiat is set to introduce an automatic transmission option for its 500 Abarth hatchback and cabrio models, which are currently offered only with a five-speed manual.

The Italian automaker is hoping that the slushbox will help attract a more diverse range of consumers - including those of the fairer sex - to its range-topping performance model. At present, eight out of ten examples of the 500 Abarth are purchased by men.

"I think when we'll see more women is when we have the automatic, and we're planning to add the automatic in the Abarth at some point, only because we're getting that feedback from customers,” Tim Kuniskis, president of Fiat's North American operations, told WardsAuto.

Kuniskis didn't reveal when the self-shifting gearbox will arrive in the 500 Abarth.

While purists may scoff at the move, its hard to argue with the business logic of offering an automatic in a country where the vast majority of consumers - both men and women- opt for two-pedal vehicles. Additionally, as archrival MINI added a six-speed auto to its sporty John Cooper Works performance range last year, it only makes sense for Fiat to ensure that its extra-spicy cinquecento can be comparably equipped.

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