Fiat 500 Abarth 500 R3T rally car (2009) revealed

Published: 02 October 2009

After letting it wither to nothing but the name on a set of spoilers in an accessories catalogues a few years ago, Fiat really is serious about the Abarth brand again. We’ve already had hot Punto and 500 Abarth road cars, the Abarth 500 Assetto Corse racer, and now there’s this, the Abarth 500 R3T rally car, unveiled at the San Remo Rally.

Rallying Abarths! Takes me back to Walter Röhrl’s exploits in the 131. So is Fiat all poised for a WRC assault?

Not quite. The Abarth will be the basis for a one-make rally championship starting in 2010, following in the footsteps of previous championships featuring the Abarth Autobianchi A112, Uno turbo, Cinquecento, Seicento, Punto, Panda and others.

It will be homologated for R3T, a cost-effective category aimed at privateers and young drivers designed around forced induction cars with a maximum of 1600cc.

Sounds like the stock Abarth would make a perfect base. What’s been tweaked?

The 500’s 1.4-litre motor employs a Garrett fixed geometry turbocharger and punts out 180bhp at 5500rpm through a six-speed sequential gearbox and locking differential to the front wheels.

The driveshafts are beefed up to cope, while adjustable bias Brembo brakes at both ends and a hydraulic handbrake take care of stopping duties.

Inside the stripped out cabin there’s a welded-in roll cage, FIA homologated seats, six-point harnesses and little in the way of creature comforts, resulting in a 1080kg kerbweight.

Is it road legal and can I buy one?

You’ll be able to buy one to compete in the Abarth Rally Trophy and other events, though don’t expect much change from £25k. Sadly that hydraulic handbrake means it won’t be road legal, but there’s nothing to stop you turning a regular Abarth 500 into something similar.

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By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

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