Fiat's new turbo Punto has both the guts and the go to justify its Abarth badges
26 September 2007

What is it?

The first car from the reborn Abarth brand.

In standard Abarth form it pumps out 155bhp at 5500rpm (redline 6500) with 152lb ft of torque at 5000 rpm. It'll cost around £16,000.

Splash out an extra £4000 and you can get a specially-appointed dealer to convert your car to Essesse (SS) spec, as tested here. That gives you 180bhp at 5750rpm, plus 200lb ft at 3000 rpm. With this, your Punto can hit 135mph, and sprint from 0-60mph in a shade under 7.5 seconds.

What's it like?

As far as we can tell from an early high-speed acquaintance on the billiard-table surfaces of the Balocco test track in nothern Italy, Fiat's execution looks immaculate.

Even the basic 1.4 litre, 155bhp turbo car fizzes around the track with a speed and precision that sits well with the revered Abarth scorpion badge that adorns the flanks.

It's the Essesse that really goes, though. Lowered some more, fitted with race seats and that 180bhp engine, it feels really fast and special.

Under the circumstances, Fiat's aim to sell 5000 cars and 2000 kits a year seems conservative.

Three things instantly impress: the all-round performance of the diminutive 1.4 litre turbo engine, the precision of the steering and the lack of torquesteer.

Press the prominent "Sport Boost" button in the dash and the electronics make the already quick steering feel even more purposeful, the accelerator travel shorten and provide a turbo overboost that lifts torque output.

The Essesse is definitely worth the money: you get a better-looking "evo" version sitting on 18-inch OZ wheels and 40-series Pirellis (the standard Abarth has 17-inch 45s) which really percolates.

The car goes so hard and handles so well, it won't matter (except to macho-men and zealots) that the standard and specially sports-tuned ESP can't be disengaged.

Should I buy one?

The great unknowns are the ride comfort on UK roads and the right-hand-drive conversion. Past sporty Fiats have often felt better to drive at home than in Britain.

But on first acquaintance the Abarth feels firm, solidly made and ideally damped. We have high hopes for it, but the competition from the likes of Renault and Ford is hot.

Join the debate

Comments
29

17 November 2007

what gets me about fiat is .always understate there cars, 0.60 times that is. have a not so old hgt punto and it is far nippier than the book states. Wonder what the real times are no doubt they tested the car with two people in it wieght in the boot tank full of the good stuff. Reckon they both will be atleast half a second faster. Naughty fiat.....................

12 April 2008

I've currently got a Clio 182, the performance of the essesse version looks very similar but I used to own a Renault 5GT Turbo and loved the effortless turbo midrange acceleration, maybe this new Abarth version could make me switch from Renault to Fiat!!!

13 April 2008

Bearing in mind this test was done in November, has anyone yet tried it on British roads? I don't recall seeing a test on it yet?

Unlike so many Fiat's in the past, I hope this one does the job that it says on the tin.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

13 April 2008

I'm not really 'au fait' with new car prices, but is isn't £20k a bit steep for this level of performance? I know figures aren't everything but surely it will never sell if there are competent equivalents available that are around the £15k mark. And while the GP's styling has grown on me, I can't imagine the Abarth will be anywhere as raw as I want it to be...

13 April 2008

Isn't £20k getting into Focus ST/Astra VXR/Megane R26 territory?

14 April 2008

[quote Schwenck]I'm not really 'au fait' with new car prices, but is isn't £20k a bit steep for this level of performance? I know figures aren't everything but surely it will never sell if there are competent equivalents available that are around the £15k mark.[/quote]

Exactly what I was thinking, Fiat has a reputation of building slightly flimsy but well spec'd cars at reasonable prices. £16k should be the asking price for the fire breathing model.

14 April 2008

it's a conversion, not an off-the-shelf car. so you buy the Abarth, and a few years down-the-line, when you've paid it off or whatever, you spend the extra 4 grand on the car.

14 April 2008

[quote Seren Kuhanandan]it's a conversion, not an off-the-shelf car. so you buy the Abarth, and a few years down-the-line, when you've paid it off or whatever, you spend the extra 4 grand on the car.

[/quote]

Sounds like an expensive way of doing things when you could just buy something quicker in the first place.

10 May 2008

[quote Seren Kuhanandan]Seren Kuhanandan wrote the following post at Apr 14, 2008 1:51 PM:

it's a conversion, not an off-the-shelf car. so you buy the Abarth, and a few years down-the-line, when you've paid it off or whatever, you spend the extra 4 grand on the car.

[/quote]

The Esseesse (SS) kit has to be fitted before 1 year / 12 000 miles. I have asked at my local Fiat Dealership and the Abarth comes out this september so I should think we can expect a UK road test pretty soon. There is no waiting list as of yet and Fiat have not announced where the 10 UK Abarth Dealerships will be located yet so all I can do is hope is that there will be one near Portsmouth.

22 July 2008

As one of the 10 abarth specialists at dealership level, I can confirm that yes the assetto and essesse kits are dealer fit upgrade kits. they must be carried out within 12 months and 20,000km of registration and are carried out at dealership by technitians trained in turin by abarth. you can only upgrade the car ONCE, you cannot do the two kits at different stages and the esseesse kit must be acompanied by the assetto. upgrade kits will have a 2 year abarth warranty from time of fit.

the abarth grande punto has an OTR price of £13,500 and an average lead time of approx 4-6 weeks (dependant on exact specification)

I would strongly advise that you contact your nearest dealer for further details as speculation simply makes our job harder.

i am based in glasgow, you can find dealer locations through the fiat website or http://abarthuk.com/category/uk-abarth-dealers/

also www.abarthcars.co.uk is the official abarth website

if you need more info contact me on d_murphy@arnoldclark.co.uk

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