Fiat's fiery Grande Punto Abarth, the first of four Abarths to be unleashed by the end of 2008, goes on sale in Italy. Is it coming to South Africa?
Fiat is on a serious mission to establish its Abarth performance division and its development plans include increasing its production capability.
New headquarters at the Mirafiori plant will house manufacturing, design and management divisions.
First in line is the Grande Punto Abarth, with which Fiat hopes to attract more younger drivers to performance motoring.
Fitted with a 116-kW turbocharged 1.4-litre engine that is mated with a six-speed manual gearbox, the car sprints to 100 km/h from standstill in 8.2 seconds.
Its maximum power is available at 5 500 r/min, while peak torque of 206 Nm comes on at 5 000 r/min.
A temporary "power boost" function increases torque to 230 Nm at 3 000 r/min. Fiat also claims a 208-km/h top end.
But Grande Punto Abarth is more than just a tuned engine. The car's brakes, suspension and aerodynamics have all been tweaked to handle the increased performance.
All wheels have disc brakes, but ventilated dual piston Brembos are used at the front.
ESP comes as standard and cannot be deactivated.
Compared with the standard Grande Punto, the Abarth's track has been widened by 6 mm, the front bumper is specific to this model and houses the headlamps in a black surround while larger air intakes take car of the increased cooling duties.
17-inch alloy wheels, red stripes bearing the Abarth name along each side and Abarth badging on the front grille and rear hatch are further distinguishing features.
Inside the cabin, black and red detailing is used throughout and Abarth's signature scorpion is used along one side of the dashboard. Seats have been designed with built-in headrests, lumbar support and wings for better thigh support.
Fiat will next year also add a performance "esseesse" (or SS) kit specific to the Grande Punto Abarth.
This kit boosts power to 134 kW and with 272 Nm of torque, it has a top speed of 215 km/h. This car covers the 0 - 100 km/h dash in 7.7 seconds.
Compared with the Grande Punto Abarth, ride height is lower by 20 mm and mechanical modifications further improve the car's dynamics.
Fiat SA has announced that Grande Punto Abarth is currently being considered for the South African market.