Abarth is to start producing performance kits for Alfa Romeo.

The classic Italian tuning brand was brought back to life by Fiat in 2008 and since then its products, based on the 500 and Punto, have sold around 22,000 units. But now the firm’s sales and marketing boss, Antonino Labate, has revealed that it is planning to broaden its scope to include selected Alfa products.

“The brand is doing so well that we plan to start producing more performance kits for Fiats, and even some Alfa Romeo models,” he told Autocar.

"We won’t be working with the Mito since Alfa already has the Cloverleaf, but there are lots of other possibilities.”

Labate also confirmed that Abarth will bring a stand-alone model to market within the next two years. The car is expected to be a rival for the Mazda MX-5, but he denied speculation that Lotus is involved in its development.

However, before that car appears, the marque is set to introduce hot Esseesse versions of its new Punto Evo Abarth and 500C models, both due in November this year.

The 1.4-litre turbocharged Multiair Punto Evo will receive upgrades boosting power from the standard car’s 163bhp to over 180bhp. Stiffer suspension and uprated brakes will also be included in the Esseesse package.

The Abarth 500C, which uses a 138bhp, non-Multiair 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, will be upgraded to 157bhp to bring it in line with the current 500 Esseesse hatchback. It will also get a faster-shifting version of the five-speed MTA automatic gearbox.

\Other upgrades due to be introduced to the Abarth range over the next two years include a dual-clutch gearbox for the Punto and Multiair engines for the 500.

Expect the Punto Evo and 500C Esseesse models to cost around £19,000 and £20,000 respectively.

Vicky Parrott

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