We scoop fire-breathing versions of the Punto and 500 as Abarth badge returns
23 July 2007

Fiat is poised to take on the affordable performance market by launching two new cars under the historic Abarth badge.The 500 Abarth and Punto Abarth were snapped leaving the Nürburgring in Germany as engineers put the final touches to chassis and engines.Fiat insiders told Autocar that the Abarth brand will be formally relaunched in September with the Punto. The Abarth Punto will be powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, good for 150bhp. A more highly tuned version will be available to special order.The hot Punto should arrive in British showrooms at the end of the year. Not all British Fiat dealers will be selling the Abarth models, though. As these scoop shots show, the production version of the Punto Abarth will look virtually identical to the concept version unveiled earlier in 2007 at the Geneva show, getting new bumpers front and rear, and sill extensions. The 500 Abarth will be unveiled at the Tokyo show in October. Fiat bosses expect the car to become a cult hit in Japan, which is a big market for cute, European, high-performance cars. The 500 will be powered by a 135bhp version of the turbocharged 1.4-litre engine.Other industry reports say that a higher-power version of the car will also go on sale under the SS (Super Sport) badge with a 155bhp engine.The Abarth badge was most recently attached to an unimpressive version of the Fiat Stilo. This time around, Abarth has to be comparable with the best European performance hatches.

Hilton Holloway

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