Archive for August, 2008

My Grande Punto Abarth has been ordered!

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

I took a trip down to the guys at Westover Sportscars in Poole, Dorset, today. Somehow I left £500 lighter.

Some history, first. As an impoverished teenage student in the very early 1990s, I drove a black Fiat 127 GT. It had perforated bodywork, skinny 135-section tyres and indicators that wouldn’t self-cancel. However, it also had twin-choke Weber carbs, a fruity stainless steel exhaust, and unfathomably nimble handling. Technically, it should have been rubbish, but somehow it was greater than the sum of its parts. It was the car my friends wanted a lift in at lunchtime and, as I look back at the cars I’ve owned since (and there have been many), it’s the one I remember with the most affection.

My old Fiat 127 GT

My old Fiat 127 GT

It was with my old Fiat bouncing nostalgically around inside my head that I took a trip to see Ben at Westover. I wanted to downsize to evade the hideous road tax bill that Gordon Brown and chums have forced upon my perfectly environmentally-acceptable Honda. But I wanted to downsize into something that was still fun – Labour haven’t completely managed to make that illegal, yet.

In truth, I was expecting to be disappointed. I was sure I’d realise I was being more than a little rose-tinted about it all. Or I’d simply realise I was too big for it (I’m 6ft 4).

Rather annoyingly, I didn’t discover either of those things. What I did discover was this: the Fiat Group still know how to make great fun cars.

So, I put my deposit down on a Grande Punto Abarth in 1949 White with Climate Control, standard 17″ wheels and standard seats that was already nearing completion at the factory. But, because I think the car looks naked without the stripes, I’m having Westover’s bodyshop apply them when it arrives – I’m not bothering with the red mirror covers, though.

Hopefully, it’ll be here early October!

Grande Punto Abarth, 1949 White, Stripe Kit

Grande Punto Abarth, 1949 White, Stripe Kit

Abarth Roadster co-developed with Lotus?

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Could Abarth be working on a two-seat roadster based on the platform of the Lotus Evora? Auto Express seem to think so, but we tend to take anything they say with a very large bucket of salt. Here’s the blurb…

Abarth Roadster? &copy Auto Express

Abarth Roadster? © Auto Express

It’s another surprise from Fiat’s Abarth tuning arm! The sporty brand has come to a special agreement with Lotus, allowing it to use the next-generation Elise to underpin a standalone sports car – and this is what it could look like.

So far, few details have been confirmed about the roadster, but sources insist engineers at Lotus’ base in Hethel, Norfolk, and Abarth’s HQ in Turin, Italy, are already working hard on the project. Abarth boss Luca de Meo has admitted the company currently does not possess the resources to build the car, although our sources insist the maker has cleverly got around that through its deal with Lotus.

The new chassis will be a smaller version of the modular, bonded aluminium set-up that debuted on the British brand’s Evora 2+2 recently.

The lightweight two-seater will have a very different shape to the other cars in the Abarth line-up. However, the familiar scorpion badge, plus a full bodykit and distinctive white and red paintjob, will ensure the newcomer is instantly identifiable. Striking alloy wheels complete the package.

Under the bonnet, the car is expected to use one of Fiat’s next-generation turbocharged petrol engines, delivering in excess of 200bhp. This should propel the lightweight 900kg package from 0-60mph in less than five seconds.

Lotus has announced its next Elise will be launched in 2010, and the new Abarth model is expected to appear in showrooms here shortly after that – possibly as early as 2011.

Original story here.

500 Abarth road tax (VED) rates

Friday, August 1st, 2008

We recently clarified the road tax (VED) rates for the new Grande Punto Abarth. Here, we do the same for the 500 Abarth.

The 500 Abarth has a CO2 output of 155 g/km, a little lower than the Punto because of the engine’s lower state of tune and reduced weight. At today’s VED rates, that places it in Band D, which costs £145/year.

For 2009/10 with the revised VED bands, the 500 Abarth will slot into Band G, with a bill for £150.

In 2010/11, the Band G rate will increase by a fiver to £155. Luckily for those looking to buy new, there’s no increased first year rate (aka the ‘showroom tax’) for Band G.

Year VED Band First year rate Standard rate
2008/9 D £145 £145
2009/10 G £150 £150
2010/11 G £155 £155

Grande Punto Abarth road tax (VED) rates

Friday, August 1st, 2008

Thinking of buying a new Grande Punto Abarth but confused by the imminent changes to the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) or ‘road tax?’ Here’s the deal:

The Grande Punto Abarth has a CO2 output of 162 g/km. At today’s VED rates, that places it in Band D, which costs £145 a year.

For 2009/10 when the number of VED bands expands to 13, the GP Abarth will slot into Band H, with a bill for £175.

In 2010/11, the Band H rate will be increased to £180. In addition, those buying the car new will have to pay an increased rate of £250 for the first year, reverting to the standard rate after that.

The rates for 2011/12 haven’t been announced, but it has been suggested that bands H and above will have their rates increased by £5 each year over and above whatever inflation-linked increase the Treasury slaps on us.

Year VED Band First year rate Standard rate
2008/9 D £145 £145
2009/10 H £175 £175
2010/11 H £250 £180

There is some cunning good news, though. If you have the ‘esseesse’ kit fitted to your GP, there is no requirement to alter the recorded CO2 figure on your V5 log book. So, despite the fact that fitting a dirty great turbo and a more aggressive fuel map will undoubtedly ratchet up your car’s CO2 production, you won’t be taxed any more for it.

For the tax-averse, that suddenly makes the Grande Punto Abarth ‘esseesse’ significantly more attractive than, say, a Clio Renaultsport 197 which, with 199 g/km of CO2, currently pays £210 a year, rising to £270.