Meet Fiat’s white-hot supermini! It’s the Abarth Grande Punto. The Italian firm’s tuning arm is back in business, and as our pictures show, the company’s stylish hatchback is first in line to get the full treatment.
Our spy photographers caught the newcomer testing on roads outside the firm’s Mirafiori factory in Turin. And they weren’t thrown off the scent by the half-hearted attempt to disguise its identity. Engineers had taped over the Scorpion badges, but there’s no mistaking its smart two-tone alloy wheels and racing stripes.
Fiat provided an early glimpse of the model at March’s Geneva Motor Show, where a near production-ready concept sat alongside the S2000 rally version on the Abarth stand.
Since then, the handling of the hot hatch has been fine-tuned as it’s prepared to go head-to-head with the Renaultsport Clio 197 and Vauxhall Corsa VXR. And just like its rivals, the high-performance Fiat will feature a range of aggressive styling additions to set it apart from standard models.
At the front, buyers will get a new front bumper with a mesh-style grille and darkened headlamp surrounds. Sporty red brake calipers with matching door mirrors and extended wheel-arch extensions add to its appeal, while a pair of chrome tailpipes stick out beneath the revised rear bumper.
To back up its looks, the Grande Punto will use the turbocharged 1.4-litre engine from the Bravo family hatch, tuned to deliver 155bhp. It
will be coupled to a slick six-speed manual gearbox, and Fiat’s engineers have been hard at work finalising the revised suspension settings. The lower and stiffer set-up is designed to deliver pin-sharp handling.
Inside, buyers will get a pair of supportive sports seats, plus a ‘Sport’ button on the dashboard that boosts the torque of the engine.
And if 155bhp isn’t enough, customers will also be able to in-crease performance thanks to an Abarth power upgrade kit. This promises
to crank output up to 180bhp and should help to ensure a 0-60mph time of seven seconds.
However, whether this will allow the new Abarth to keep up with its junior hot hatch rivals remains to be seen. The 189bhp Corsa VXR and 194bhp Clio 197 are capable of dispatching the benchmark sprint in 6.8 and 6.9 seconds respectively.
The roadgoing Grande Punto Abarth will make its official debut at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show, where it will take pride of place on the tuning firm’s stand. Prices are yet to be confirmed, but the newcomer should cost around £15,000 when it hits UK showrooms next year.
Now Abarth’s engineers will turn their attentions to the new Fiat 500. The hot city car debuts at the Tokyo Motor Show in October, and will come with a trio of 1.4-litre engines under its stubby bonnet.