Abarth Punto Evo hits the street in 180-hp EsseEsse trim

Abarth Punto Evo EsseEsse – Click above for high-res image gallery

With the 500 getting the lion's share of the attention, it'd be all too easy to forget about the Punto. But Fiat offers more than one model, and so does its tuning division, Abarth.

The Grande Punto has been around since 2005, and was updated in 2009 as the Punto Evo, something of a stopgap until its eventual replacement comes along. Abarth offers its own version of the Punto Evo for those who find the 500 either too small or too cutesy, and has now rolled out an even more powerful version of the Italian performance hatch.

Instead of the 165-horsepower turbo four in the existing Abarth Punto Evo, the EsseEsse version gets a more promising 180, thanks to revised ECU programming and bigger turbocharger. The brakes are also upgraded, as are the springs, dampers and wheel/tire package. The result is a 7.5-second sprint to 62 and a 134 mph top end.

Best of all, the modifications in the EsseEsse kit can be ordered and installed from the dealership up to a year after the car was purchased. Although the model was unveiled nearly a year ago in Paris, it's only just hitting the market. Read more about it in the press release after the jump.
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The wait is over. Abarth's sparkling Punto Evo model has just been given a further boost with the option of the tuning brand's esseesse conversion.

The performance kit, which increases the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine's power to 180bhp and adds other technical and cosmetic equipment, can be specified when a customer orders their car, or can be undertaken later – as long as it's within 12 months or 12,500 miles and carried out by an Abarth appointed dealership.

The engine's Electronic Control Unit (ECU) is upgraded so that, along with its Garrett GT1446 fixed-geometry turbo, the 1.4-litre turbo unit produces 180bhp at 5750rpm. These modifications give the Abarth Punto Evo esseesse a 0-62mph acceleration time of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 134 mph.

Stopping power is supplied by disc brakes all round (fully floating self-ventilated at the front, cross drilled at the rear), complete with Brembo M4x40 front callipers. Uprated Abarth springs and Koni FSD dampers are fitted front and rear, which results in a lower ride height. A six-speed manual gearbox provides the transmission, and the car features Abarth's switch to transfer from 'Normal' driving mode to 'Sport'.

Even though this upgrade relies heavily on modern technology, the esseesse kit stays loyal to Abarth by being delivered to customers in a high quality wooden crate. Once its contents have been emptied the crate then becomes the property of the customer as an interesting memento.

The extra performance is not to the detriment of the environment. The Abarth Punto Evo esseesse is Euro 5-compliant and comes as standard with the Start&Stop system, MultiAir technology and a Gear Shift Indicator (GSI). It returns 47.1 mpg economy on the combined cycle and has a CO2 figure of 142 g/km.

"The Abarth Punto Evo already has a winning combination of great looks, technology and high performance," says Ivan Gibson, head of Abarth in the UK. "Now the esseesse conversion will take it to an extra level for customers wishing to realise their car's full potential."

The esseesse kit adds around £3000 to the cost of a standard Abarth Punto Evo (£16,852 OTR); the figure varying slightly depending on different regions' labour costs.

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