New Fiat 500 Abarth spied

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 | Labels: | |

Just as Fiat’s Abarth performance brand was revealing official details of its hot version of the Grande Punto, our spy photographers caught the most eagerly awaited model from the tuning firm out on the road.

These exclusive pictures are the best yet of the stunning Abarth 500, which will make its world debut at next month’s Tokyo Motor Show.

And the souped-up city car should be as good to drive as it is to look at, as engineers are working hard to fine-tune the car’s handling. With pumped-up body panels, flared arches, lower side sills, a big roof spoiler and twin tailpipes at the rear, it looks a lot more aggressive than the standard car. The performance 500 also gets a unique front bumper design to aid cooling.

You can even spot a bonnet scoop on this prototype, to feed air into the turbocharged 1.4-litre engine. The unit comes in three states of tune. Entry-level variants will get 133bhp, with a 152bhp version also planned.

However, top billing will go to the flagship 595 Super Sport model, which is expected to deliver 177bhp.

The Abarth Grande Punto, which our spies also caught testing on the road, will use the same 1.4-litre turbo engine. It has 152bhp as standard, and can propel the hot hatch – which has lowered suspension and a wider track – from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds.

Buyers will also get 17-inch alloys and uprated brakes, while red stripes along the body, new head­lamps and a revised front bumper help to mark it out in the range.

A Super Sport kit, clumsily dubbed ‘esseesse’, will give even more pace. It increases the Punto’s power to 177bhp and reduces the 0-62mph time to 7.7 seconds. Bigger wheels, even lower suspension and more powerful brakes complete the modifications. The Abarth Grande Punto is due here before the end of 2008, and prices will start at £14,000.