Sporty Abarth marque lives again
New Fiat Grande Punto gets seriously sporty
Fiat's reviving the famous Abarth performance and sporting marque with a more sporty version of the Grande Punto, along with a racing and rallying programme.
Fiat reckoned that the decision was made some time ago to revive the marque, and that the instigation of an Abarth division had to be more than a bit of badge engineering. So at next week’s Geneva motor show, Fiat will unwrap the new Grande Punto Abarth, the first road-going product of the new division.
The Grande Punto Abarth gets a 1.4 turbocharged petrol engine that delivers 150bhp at 5,500 rpm, boosted to 155bhp with 98RON petrol in the tank. Peak torque of 152lb-ft is developed at 2,000 rpm, but 169lb-ft is produced at 3,000 rpm when the driver activates Sport mode. If that's not enough, Fiat will also sell an aftermarket booster kit that hikes power to 180bhp, almost three times that of the entry level Punto.
All of which Fiat reckoned is a revival of past traditions: for example, the 1957 Fiat 500 delivered 13bhp at 4,000 rpm with a top speed of 53 mph, while the Fiat 500 Abarth of the same year delivered over 20bhp at 5,000 rpm and a top speed of 73 mph.
Fiat reckoned its new car would revive the feats of these entertaining performance cars and offer young enthusiasts in particular an opportunity to enter the world of motorsport in complete safety and at an accessible price.
The Abarth division will also run its own racing and rally teams, starting with the Grande Punto Abarth S2000, which won both the Italian and European rally championship titles last year in its debut season. The new Abarth division will also prepare racing and rally cars for customers in a wide range of series and one make championships, said Fiat.
Abarth plans to repeat its 2006 competition debut by entering the 2007 Italian Rally Championship with Giandomenico Basso and co-driver Mitia Dotta. On the international scene, the Grande Punto Abarth S2000 will compete in the IRC (Intercontinental Rally Challenge) with drivers Andrea Navarra, and co-driver Guido D’Amore, together with the young Umberto Scandola and Anton Alen.
Powered by a 2000cc normally aspirated engine that delivers 270bhp, with four-wheel drive, the latest Grande Punto Abarth S2000 is a development of the machine that won the 2006 Italian Rally Championship with Paolo Andreucci and Anna Andreussi, winning seven of the 11 events in the series. During the same season, Giandomenico Basso/Mitia Dotta also won the European Rally Championship and the International Rally Challenge, with a similar car.
Abarth will also develop performance and styling packages for the owners of existing Fiat products. Promotion of merchandise and clothing lines will also be a key element in the company’s plans for Abarth.
Founded in 1949 by Carlo Abarth, the Abarth company produced classic sporting versions of key Fiat models and ran racing teams that were dominant forces on both the race track and on rally stages. The scorpion badge was chosen as a clear indication of what Abarth was all about – small cars with a big sting in the tail.
The new Abarth & C. company includes a total of 113 experts, including 26 engineers, 43 on the manufacturing side of the business and nine dedicated purely to motorsport, reckoned Fiat.
“The link with tradition is not just an idea, but tangible and concrete,” said Fiat CEO Luca de Meo. “This is a real rebirth, that will start with the triumphant return of Abarth activities to our historic premises in Corso Marche, Turin, where the famous ‘Officine Abarth’ will be recreated.”
Looks like Fiat's getting serious about motorsport again....