Grande Punto Abarth
The first new car from the relaunched Abarth brand, the Grande Punto Abarth, as one would expect, is a re-engineered variant of the Fiat Grande Punto. In the true spirit of Abarth, all the mechanical areas have been revised, as well as the styling.
The biggest difference is under the bonnet, where a considerably more powerful engine nestles. This is a a 1.4 turbo petrol engine, delivering 155bhp. Combined with a 6-speed manual gearbox, the engine gives the car a top speed of 129mph, accelerating from 0-62mph in just 8.2 seconds. The Grande Punto Abarth is not just a high performance car, it is also safe, and (relatively) respectful of the environment. Safe because the tuning is not limited to the engine and the aerodynamics: the car’s brakes and chassis set-up have also been redesigned to cope with the improved performance, and eco-friendly because it complies with legislation on noise and emissions (Euro 4 approved engine).
The power and aggressive style of the Grande Punto Abarth are instantly visible. Compared to a standard Punto, the track has been widened by 6 mm, it has 17” alloy wheels and the option of red stripes bearing the Abarth name along each side. The front bumper is specially designed and houses the headlights set in a dark surround, while the larger air intakes, adapted to cater for the new engine’s cooling requirements, are enhanced with an exclusive Abarth design. Finally, the sideskirts, the wheel arch rims and black plastic underbody complete the fairing on the lower section, profiled to boost aerodynamic performance and extending as far as the tapered rear bumper. The Abarth badge is of course clearly visible, positioned in the centre of the front grille, the rear hatch and on both sides, at door handle height. A twin tailpipe exhaust finishes the back end.
However, most of the Abarth treatment relates to performance: the engine, brakes and chassis set up. The 4-cylinder 16v engine (1368 cc turbocharged with an IHI fixed geometry turbocharger) delivers 155 bhp at 5500 rpm with a maximum torque of 206 Nm at 5000 rpm. When “power boost” mode is activated, the maximum torque increases to 230 Nm at 3000 rpm (10% more), and the electric power-assisted steering modifies the setting to give a sportier feel. There are disc brakes on all wheels, and the front brakes are ventilated with Brembo fixed four-piston calipers.
The suspension is based on the tried and tested set up of the Fiat Grande Punto (MacPherson strut and anti-roll bar at the front and torsion beam suspension at the rear), suitably modified: the anti-roll bar has been thickened (diameter 19 mm), the front springs are 20% firmer and the ride height has been lowered by 10 mm. After this treatment, the vehicle provides impeccable road holding while maintaining a high standard of comfort. Evidence of the importance given to safety when the car was designed (especially for younger drivers), is that the ESP comes as standard and cannot be deactivated.
The Abarth touch is equally apparent inside the car: the charismatic figure of the scorpion on one side of the dashboard, for example, while the “carbon effect” central console is decorated with a textured cube motif. The instrument panel also has a sporty design, including a digital boost-guage, whilst both the steering wheel and gear stick are finished in black leather with red stitching. Last but not least, the seats have also been designed with built-in head restraints, lumbar support and excellent lateral thigh support (on request, the seats and central dashboard section can be finished in full grain leather).
Following in the Abarth tradition of tuning parts, and also conveniently avoiding modern issues with homologation, there are also available two kits. A chassis kit includes further lowered and stiffened springs and matching dampers plus cross-drilled discs and harder brake pads, whilst the SS (or 'Esseesse') kit comprises the chassis parts plus engine modifications. The latter include a new turbocharger, fuel rail, various hoses, ECU, tailpipe and a host of other components, to take the power to 180bhp.
The standard 155bhp car accelerates from 0-100km/h in 8.2 seconds, whilst the Esseesse kit equipped car manages it in an impressive 7.7 seconds. It went on sale in Italy in the autumn of 2007, followed by other markets in 2008, albeit in very limited volumes. The Esseesse kit was launched in mid-2008.
Driveline transverse engine at front with front wheel drive Engine 1368cc (72x84mm) 16v dohc turbocharged (IHI turbo) with 155bhp @ 5,500rpm
1368cc (72x84mm) 16v dohc turbocharged (Garrett turbo) with 180bhp @ 5,750rpm with EsseEsse kit
Suspension front : MacPherson strut with telescopic dampers and coil springs plus anti-roll bar
rear : Torsion beam
wheelbase : 2510mm
track (front/rear) : 1476mm/1465mm
Brakes front : discs, 305x28mm ventilated, Brembo M4x40 4-pot callipers
rear : discs, 264x11mm solid
handbrake operating on the rear via a cable
ABS with EBD
Gearbox 6 speed manual
Hydraulic clutch, cable shift
Steering Rack and pinion with electric power assistance (Dualdrive) Dimensions length / width / height (mm) : 4041 / 1726 / 1490
model max speed 0-100kph combined consumption CO2 emissions 1.4 turbo 155bhp 208 km/h 8.2 sec 6.9 l/100km 162 g/km 1.4 turbo 180bhp 215 km/h 7.7 sec
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