Fiat have just announced that their Punto Abarth is heading for Australia and should be on sale by mid 2008, which is great news for performance hatch enthusiasts. Itâ€™s been a long time between drinks for the revered Abarth badge.
Compared to a standard Punto, the Abarth versions track has been widened by 6 mm and features 17â€ alloy wheels and red stripes bearing the Abarth name along each side. The front bumper is specially designed and houses the main beam headlights set in a black surround, while the larger air intakes, adapted to cater for the new engineâ€™s cooling requirements, are enhanced with an exclusive Abarth design.
The striking red on white paintwork is just the start of the fun. The Punto Abarth is fitted with a 1.4 turbo petrol engine, delivering 116 kW/206Nm mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, a combination which gives the hot Punto a top speed of 208 kmh, and sees it dash from 0-100 km/h in 8.2 seconds.
The Punto Abarth also features a â€œpower boostâ€ mode which when activated sees the maximum torque increase to 230Nm at 3000 rpm and the electric power-assisted steering modifies the setting to give a sportier feel. There are disc brakes on all wheels, and the front brakes are ventilated with a Brembo fixed dual-piston caliper.
The suspension is based on the tried and tested set up of the Fiat Punto, with McPherson strut and anti-roll bar at the front and torsion bar suspension at the rear, suitably modified: the anti-roll bar has been widened to a diameter of 19 mm, the front springs are 20 per cent firmer, and the set up has been lowered by 10 mm.
Fiat are also pointing out that the Punto Abarth is not just a high performance small car â€“ it is also safe, and environmentally friendly. Evidence of the importance given to safety when the car was designed (with younger drivers in mind), is that the ESP comes as standard and cannot be deactivated. Despite having far more power than the model on which it is based, the Punto Abarth complies with the same legislation on noise and emissions with its Euro 4 approved engine.
The Abarth touch is equally apparent inside the car, with the figure of the scorpion (Abarthâ€™s logo) on one side of the dashboard, while the â€œcarbon effectâ€ centre console is decorated with a textured cube motif. The instrument panel has a sporty design, with the same look for the steering wheel and gear stick, finished in black leather with red stitching. The seats have also been designed with spirited driving in mind and include a built-in headrest, lumbar support and two wings providing lateral thigh support . Both the seats and central dashboard section can be optionally finished in full grain leather.
Australian pricing and specification of the Punto Abarth will be announced when it goes on sale in mid-2008.
[Source: Fiat Australia]