Fiat's plucky Abarth performance division manages to do a whole lot with very little. The in-house tuning garage has based their entire lineup on two Fiat hatchbacks: the Punto and the 500. So when Fiat rolled out new versions of both, it was only a matter of time until Abarth got their hands on them, and both are slated to make their debut at the fast-approaching Geneva Motor Show.
First up is the 500C. The pseudo-convertible version of the popular (and soon to be U.S.-bound) retro mini, the 500C features a retractable roof section sliding between solid roof rails. The base Fiat version is doubtlessly a fun ride, but doesn't look much like a performance driving tool. Abarth, however, seems to have done a lot to rectify that shortcoming. First, the goods: a 140-horsepower 1.4-liter turbo four mated to a five-speed robotized manual, complete with paddleshifters, drive the hot open hatch to 62 miles-per-hour in 7.9 seconds. Complementing the added oomph are bigger wheels and brakes, a sportier suspension, an aggressive body kit and a two-tone paint scheme that, to our eyes, does the shape some big favors in the attitude department.
The second model starts with the new Punto Evo – a recently revised version of Fiat's bread-and-butter hatchback – and gives it a shot of adrenaline, courtesy of a 165-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged MultiAir four. A 178-hp Esse-Esse version of the Abarth Punto Evo will be available from launch as well, but buyers looking for the added boost in retro-cabrio form will presumably have to wait a little longer for the Abarth 500C Esse-Esse to come along. Press release after the jump, and images in the galleries below.
Abarth at the 80th International Motor Show in Geneva
Abarth is presenting a number of important new products at Geneva in response to intense public interest, and to confirm the Fiat Group's investment in Abarth. In particular, at this year's Geneva show, the house of the scorpion will be presenting the Abarth Punto Evo and the Abarth 500C, the latest two performance cars based on already popular and acclaimed Fiat models.
The Abarth Punto Evo is the sporty, high-tech version of the Punto Evo that Fiat introduced last September. Abarth is aiming, with this model, to reinforce its standing with young enthusiastic drivers, a process begun with the Grande Punto, which has sold best to customers in the 18 to 30 age group.
A great deal of curiosity has also been built up ahead of the launch of the Abarth 500C, the first convertible to be launched by the renewed Abarth company. This elegant and dynamic car is packed with Abarth racing spirit and the latest performance technology. The Abarth 500C is more than just a developed version of its Fiat counterpart. On the contrary, it represents a strategic choice by Abarth. With it, the company is making clear advances towards those members of the female public who are seeking not only design and elegance but a good dose of sports performance too.
Both new models will go on sale over the next few months through Abarth's official dealer network in Europe and Japan, closely followed by other markets, and boosting the company's already excellent results for 2009.
Proof that the direction taken by Abarth is the right one comes from the statistics. These announce quite clearly that the brand is experiencing continuous growth: from 2008 to the present day, Abarth has sold 20,000 cars, including 8,400 Abarth 500s and 2,700 Abarth Grande Puntos, to say nothing of 4,600 performance kits. So it is no wonder that this impressive commercial success has led to an equally rapid growth in the number of dealers and official performance centres associated with the marque.
As well as consolidating its existing markets, Abarth is also extending its network in strategic European towns and cities like Amsterdam and Paris, and expanding into east European markets like Rumania, as well as Mediterranean basin markets like Israel.
The Abarth distribution network is already unique, boasting 141 showrooms, 140 official performance centres and 300 service centres in Europe. These figures do not take account of the recently established "Abarth Racing" performance tuning network, which already boasts 6 centres holding exclusive sales and assistance rights for customers purchasing Abarth's race-ready models.
The stand at the Geneva show Abarth's stand at the 2010 edition of the Geneva motor show has been completely redesigned to provide a worthy stage for the international debut of two new models.
The concept behind the new stand is one of simplicity: the stand's design is not a means of communication in itself, but serves only to drawing attention to the values of the Abarth brand. Wherever its cars are found, Abarth is such a clearly recognised protagonist that it can afford to present itself to the public without frills, in its most essential form. This year's more essential stand helps focus on the two new Abarths making their world debut in Geneva and destined to enrich the Abarth range.
Abarth's stage for presenting itself to the world consists of a spacious stand divided into two main illuminated areas, each focusing on one of the new cars.
A huge pane of glass in the centre of the space carries the instantly recognisable Abarth logo, while a large LED display creates a backdrop to the new cars and functions as a central feature in the stand's design.
The entire stand is based on symmetric, straight lines, right angles and neutral, almost unnoticeable materials. White structural components and an abundance of transparent materials eliminate visual "noise" and focus clearly on content.
Technical drawings of Abarth vehicles are displayed under the glass floor. This intelligent solution makes the drawings easily visible to all visitors, reflecting the era when Abarth cars used to have partly raised engine covers to display their performance parts.
Intangible content like light, sound, and digital media is used not as a mere accessory, but to help identify the stand's focal points in a more integrated and coordinated manner, and to create a sense of dynamism and movement. The neutral and minimalist space is filled and coloured by scenes representing a sequence of Abarth values: challenge, passion, ingenuity, Italian style, participation, determination, and authenticity.
The stand creates a fascinating and warm welcome to the world of Abarth and provides an ideal context for presenting the two latest expressions of the marque of the scorpion: the Abarth Punto Evo and the Abarth 500C.