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.