The little brand that could, Abarth, secures whatever few items from the growing Fiat empire it can get its hands on and takes them to the extreme. The performance division was designated to handle Fiat's rally activities, and took the IRC title in its formative year with the Punto Abarth S2000. Then they turned around and put their hot Punto on the road with the 155 horsepowerPunto Abarth and 180 hp Punto Abarth EsseEsse.
But since the scorpion brand got its hands on the Fiat 500, they've been churning out more performance variants than Porsche. The 500 Abarth debuted with 133 hp, launched with the special Opening Edition. Then the 500 got an EsseEsse version of its own with 160 ponies. The track-bound 500 Abarth Assetto Corse followed with 200 horsepower, and at the recently concluded Frankfurt show they unveiled the 695 Tributo Ferrari. More versions were interspersed, and even more are said to be on the way – but not before the rally team has had a chance to debut the new Abarth 500 R3T.
Built to Group R3T specifications, a rally formula for turbocharged cars up to 1.6-liters in engine displacement, the rally-prepped 500 packs a 1.4-liter four with a Garret GT 1446 fixed-geometry turbocharger, good for 180 horsepower and driving through a six-speed sequential transmission with twin-plate clutch and a locking differential. 17-inch OZ alloys are mounted to an adjustable suspension and pack Brembo discs all around supplemented by a hydraulic handbrake. Inside, the 500 R3T has been fitted with a full roll cage and FIA-spec racing buckets with six-point harnesses, while dry weight comes in at 1080kg (2380 lbs), the minimum for the category.
The vehicle was introduced this past weekend at the Sanremo rally, where Abarth has won two of the past three years running, and it will be used in special promotional events as part of the Assetto Corse program. Check out the details in the press release after the jump and the pair of high-res images in the gallery below.
Abarth 500 for rallies launched in Sanremo
Abarth introduced its latest racing gem at the 51st Sanremo Rally. The new Abarth 500 R3T will lend its name to a promotional rally trophy in 2010, due to join the two track events (European and Italian) planned for the Abarth 500 Assetto Corse.
For Abarth, this marks a return to promotional trophy events, a niche it has made its own for more than thirty years. Since 1977, to be precise, when the first ever Autobianchi A112 Abarth Championship was held, followed by trophies for the Fiat Uno, Uno Turbo, Cinquecento, Seicento, Punto Kit and Super 1600, Stilo, Panda Kit.
The Abarth 500 rally version will be type approved for Group R3T, the category for turbocharged cars up to 1600 cm3 in capacity. This class will be the future of the specialism because it represents a good compromise between car cost and performance. Ideal for private drivers and young people who want to show their worth in a true racing car, capable of outstanding performance by any standard.
The Abarth 500 power unit is 1368 cm3 with a Garret GT 1446 fixed geometry turbocharger capable of delivering a power of 180 hp (132 kw) at 5500 rpm.
The gearbox is sequential, front meshing with 6 speeds and includes a multiplate self-locking differential, twin plate clutch and special half-axles.
Great care has been taken to ensure the suspension can be adjusted to obtain a ride suited to each driver's individual driving style. The racing shock-absorbers are adjustable, with coaxial spring and wheel to alter the ground clearance plus special shims to adjust the caster and camber angles.
The 7" x 17" OZ asphalt rims are designed for 19/62-17 tyres.
The Brembo brakes are all disc, ventilated at the front with 4 callipers, solid disc at the rear with brake distributor and governor. The handbrake is hydraulic.
The Abarth 500 is equipped with a special welded roll-bar integral with the body, the required safety devices and FIA type-approved seats with 6 seat belt anchorage points.
The weight is the lowest set by the regulations for this category: 1080 kg unladen.
Great care has also been taken over the details, beginning with a livery that is most decidedly in keeping with tradition, complemented by a lovingly crafted interior and instruments.
The Abarth promotional trophy regulation and timetable will be circulated in the coming weeks.
Turin, 25th September 2009