Fiat Grande Punto Abarth: the lowdown
Fiat is finally resurrecting the sporty Abarth badge for a Grande Punto hot hatch, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show this week – and aimed squarely at beefed-up supermini rivals such as the Fiesta ST and Skoda Fabia vRS. Discreet, it ain’t. The new model is coated with chunky Abarth badges and bright-red, go-faster stripes, all bearing the name or trademark scorpion logo of the historic brand.
Looks a bit meaner than the standard Grande Punto.
It certainly does. It has sharper lines than the already handsome Grande Punto and a gaping grille clad with mesh. The nine-spoke, 17-inch alloys suit the design and house luminous-red Brembo callipers. The rear design is smooth and clean, so long as you can live with the slightly boy-racer darkened rear light clusters.
What’s it got under the bonnet?
This is no Renault Clio challenger – not yet, anyway. The Grande Punto Abarth comes with a 1.4-litre engine, which might not sound like a lot, but Fiat has taken the liberty of bolting on a Garrett turbocharger, which results in a healthy 150bhp at 5500rpm. Peak torque of 151lb ft turns up at a surprisingly low 2000rpm, and there’s some extra twist when you prod the Sport mode button, freeing up a musclier 170lb ft for brief overtaking squirts. There are plans afoot for a hotter, 180bhp version of the Abarth, which should be arriving in the not-too-distant-future.
And what’s this? A Punto rally car?
The Grande Punto Abarth S2000: not to be confused with an open top Japanese sports car, the S2000 rally car packs a 2.0-litre engine with 270bhp and four-wheel-drive. It’ll compete in the 2007 Italian Rally Championship with Giandomenico Basso at the wheel. There’s even a race-ready diesel version: the Grande Punto R3D, with a 1.9-litre turbocharged engine and 175bhp.
When will we see the production warm hatch on sale?
The Abarth is due on European sale in autumn 2007, although UK sales will be delayed until summer 2008. Don’t expect to be belting home in the homologated S2000 version just yet though. For those lusting for a more generous figure than 150bhp, you’ll have to wait for the roadgoing 180bhp model. Abarth has been set up as a new sub-division of Fiat Auto; it will develop body kits, racing versions and other performance models of existing Fiat products. 'Expect to see the Abarth badge on most of our key models,' said one senior source.