What is it?
This is the Punto Abarth, the first of the new-generation Abarths to go on sale in the UK. It is not, apparently a Fiat - look for a Fiat badge and you won’t find one anywhere.
This is because Abarth has a fine racing, rallying and road car heritage and, though it has always been linked heavily to Fiat, and owned by Fiat Auto since 1971, the Italians are keen to give it its own distinct brand image - so a warmed-over Punto T-Jet would simply not be on.
Instead, you get a 153bhp, 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, and the ability to get to 62mph in just 8.2 seconds.
What’s it like?
The Punto Abarth certainly gets off to a good start - it looks fantastic. The standard Punto is already blessed with elegant, clean lines, and the Abarth adds a dose of healthy testosterone with its lower stance, chunky 17-inch alloys and black side skirts and roof spoiler.
There’s more good news inside. Much as in the standard Punto, there’s still the odd bit of brittle plastic trim here and there and the aluminium-look plastic on the central console is unconvincing to say the least.
All the Abarth-specific interior trimmings are good, however. The steering wheel, handbrake and much of the dash are covered well-trimmed leather. The faux-suede seats (are comfy and supportive, though a little narrow shouldered. In fact the interior as a whole feels a fair bit more special than most cars in this class.