Archive for September, 2008

Fifth Gear TV Grande Punto Abarth review

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

TV’s Fifth Gear review of the Grande Punto Abarth and Esseesse aired last night, and is available now on YouTube (below).

Generally, tester Tom Ford liked the car, concluding that the GP Abarth was the “pick of the junior hot-hatch bunch,” at least until Ford bring out the new Fiesta ST sometime next year. His test car leaked a little during heavy rain, but he rated the Esseesse kit after driving it up Harewood Hillclimb.

Take a look…

Fifth Gear TV Grande Punto Abarth review

Fiat 500 Abarth Esseesse technical specifications

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

In line with the philosophy which has distinguished Abarth for half a century – to bring its racing experience to the market for road going cars and open up the world of motor sport – the 500 Abarth with the “esseesse” kit is another important piece of the jigsaw in the already ambitious project of Fiat Group Automobiles.

500 Abarth Esseesse kit

500 Abarth Esseesse kit

True to Abarth tradition, the “esseesse” kit comes in an elegant wooden case and can only be sold and installed by the official network of Abarth converters, guaranteeing compliance with the highest testing and safety standards.

In detail, the kit allows the 1.4 16v Turbo T-Jet engine to achieve a maximum power of 160 hp (120 KW) at 5750 g/min with peak torque of 230 Nm (170 lb/ft) at 3000 g/min in “Sport Mode”. The result is a truly thrilling performance: top speed is 131 mph (211 km/h) with acceleration from 0-62 mph (0-100 kph) in just 7.4 seconds. In line with the Abarth concept of preparation, the “esseesse” kit uses perforated and ventilated front brake discs (diameter 284mm x 22mm), perforated rear brake discs (diameter 240mm x 11mm, high-performance front brake pads, springs that are specially lowered in comparison to the original car and Abarth “esseesse” 7″ x 17″ ET35 alloy wheels, finished in white or titanium, teamed with 205/40 ZR 17 Pirelli Pzero tyres.

The 500 Abarth “esseesse” kit is topped off by the specific air filter powered by BMC, four tyre pressure sensors, “esseesse” badges for the engine hood and the tailgate, and a specially designed, highly original key cover.

Fiat 500 Abarth “Esseesse” Technical Specifications


  • 4 cylinders in line, 4 valves per cylinder, 1368 cc
  • Power: 160 hp (120 KW) at 5750 rpm
  • Max. torque of 230 Nm (170 lb/ft) in sport mode at 3000 rpm
  • IHI RHF3 fixed geometry turbocharger


  • 5-speed C510 transmission

Air filter

  • Abarth-specific, powered by BMC


  • Electric power steering with “sport mode”


  • Front: McPherson with anti-roll bar
  • Rear: interconnected bars with torsion beam

Ride height

  • Specifically lowered compared to the 500 Abarth 135hp


  • Self-ventilated, perforated front brake disc ø 284 mm x 22 mm
  • Perforated rear brake disc ø 240 mm x 11 mm
  • High-performance front brake pads


  • Abarth-specific Abarth “esseesse” style alloys, 7″ x 17″ ET 35
  • 205/40 ZR17 P ZERO BLACK tyres


  • Maximum speed 131 mph (211 Km/h)
  • Acceleration 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) 7.4 sec

Fuel consumption

  • Urban: 33.2 mpg (8.5 litres per 100km)
  • Extra-urban: 52.3 mpg (5.4 litres per 100km)
  • Combined: 43.4 mpg (6.5 litres per 100km)


  • 155 g per km CO2 (compared to Euro 5 CEE-F5 standard)

Special features

  • Specific “esseesse” key cover
  • Tyre pressure sensors
  • “esseesse” logo on tailgate/engine hood
Fiat 500 Abarth Esseesse

Fiat 500 Abarth Esseesse

Fiat 500 Abarth Assetto Corse technical specifications

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Almost 43 years after Carlo Abarth drove his last record-breaking car, Abarth is making its racing comeback with the new “500 Abarth Assetto Corse”, the ultra-sporty little Scorpion designed by Fiat Group Automobiles Styling Centre and developed by Abarth’s team of engineers and designers.

Fiat 500 Abarth Assetto Corse

Fiat 500 Abarth Assetto Corse

It looks like a true racing car as can be seen from the 1400 cc engine (16 valves and 200 bhp), wide tracking, ultra-light 17” white racing alloys, lowered suspension, racing mirrors and numbers down the sides.

Available in pastel grey with red Abarth side stripes, the “500 Abarth Assetto Corse” has an aggressive front end complete with Abarth badge, below which are the oversized bumper, aerodynamic spoiler and screen printed grilles, replacing the plastic ones on the standard version. On the engine hood, apart from the traditional hooks, we find the two carbon air intakes complete with scorpion. The rear of the vehicle has a white spoiler, Abarth badge and double exhaust. Last but not least, in true Abarth style, down the sides is the sword logo which represents the brand’s racing image, and the roof with its red stripe and four white checks, just like the winning Abarth 850TC of the 1960s.

Inside, the “500 Abarth Assetto Corse” has a racing-approved roll-bar, hollowed out to make it faster and lighter (the car weighs about 120 kg less than the road going version). The ergonomically-designed seat, special racing steering wheel and carbon door panels make the 500 Abarth Assetto Corse a true racing car – tiny but with a tough character. However, it has something extra: it has been designed to be cheap to run. Abarth has once again made racing affordable by promoting a “democratic” approach to the sport, demonstrated by the single-make 500 Abarth Challenge Trophy.

500 Abarth Challenge

In the best Scorpion tradition, in 2009 Abarth will be organising a single-make trophy featuring the 500 Abarth Assetto Corse: the car will be produced directly by Abarth and will be sold to drivers “race-ready”, through the dealer network.

The Italian round of the Trophy will be held together with the prestigious Ferrari Challenge: free qualifying, official qualifying and two races each of 30 minutes, the tried and tested weekend racing formula. Meanwhile, abroad, drivers can choose from the trophy competitions in several countries (Portugal, Spain, Germany and Great Britain have already been confirmed), or an international challenge to be held in conjunction with the World Touring Car Championship, according to the same technical and racing regulations as the Italian trophy.

The participants will test each other’s skills on the most famous circuits of Europe: Monza, Vallelunga, Brno, Paul Ricard, Imola and Mugello for the series paired with the Ferrari Challenge; Valencia, Porto, Brands Hatch, Brno, Oschersleben and Monza for the WTCC (World Touring Car Championship) series.

At the end of the season, the winners of the national and European series will meet in a grand finale.

The technical characteristics of the car, and the racing formula, have been specifically designed in order to make participation in the trophy extremely affordable.

Fiat 500 Abarth Assetto Corse technical specifications


  • 4 cylinders in line, 4 valves per cylinder, 1368 cc
  • Power: 200 bhp (147 KW) at 6500 rpm
  • Max. torque 221 lb/ft (300 Nm) at 3000 rpm
  • Garrett GT 1446 fixed geometry turbocharger
  • Specially reinforced air and water intake covers


  • M32 6-speed transmission


  • Front: McPherson, special racing shock absorbers, coaxial spring with ride height adjustment
  • Rear: interconnected bars , special racing shock absorbers, springs with ride height adjustment


  • Racing-calibrated electric power steering


  • Brembo 4-piston radial front caliper M4X40
  • Self-ventilated, perforated front brake disc ø 305 mm x 28 mm
  • Rear caliper with piston ø 36 mm
  • Rear brake disc ø 264 mm x 11 mm
  • High-performance racing brake pads


  • Rear spoiler and front bumper splitter


  • Reinforced cage structure, welded to bodyshell
  • Lightened interior, Sabelt Racing safety set-up
  • Optimised driving position moved towards the centre of the car


  • Painted aluminium alloys, 7″ x 17″
  • Tyres: 205/50 ZR17


  • 920 Kg

Abarth at the Paris International Motor Show

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

It is only a few months since the 500 Abarth was launched, but there is no stopping Abarth & C. S.p.A. as they bring several more new products to the Paris Motor Show. The major new developments include a world preview of the “esseesse” kit for the 500 Abarth, the Assetto Corse Abarth and a new collection of technical equipment produced in partnership with Basic Net (owner of the prestigious Kappa, Robe di Kappa, Superga and K-way brands).

Fiat 500 Abarth Esseesse

Fiat 500 Abarth Esseesse

In particular, the spotlight will be on the “esseesse” kit for the 500 Abarth, which evokes the glorious history of the Scorpion. Carlo Abarth always concentrated his efforts on developing the performance of standard-production cars, but it was only after a meeting with Vittorio Valletta (President of Fiat from 1946-1966) that the conditions were put in place for development of the famous conversion kit. In 1958, the year in which Abarth & C. Spa was recognised as a solid international company, an important agreement was sealed which allowed Abarth & C. to use the semi-finished bodyshells of cars on which they could design their conversions using special parts.

This link to a major car manufacturer allowed the company, based in Corso Marche (Turin) to develop and fine-tune its preparation of small vehicles. Carlo Abarth’s aim was to design a simple, standardised performance enhancement technique so that any workshop, mechanic or even the customer himself could fit the parts to their vehicles.

The new Abarth – underlining its desire to carry on the historic work of Abarth & Co by bringing it up to date – now brings us the first conversion kit dedicated to the 500 Abarth. The whole concept of the Paris stand is based on car preparation, with the presentation of the 500 Abarth “esseesse” kit and the Assetto Corse Abarth version. The public will be able to see the various levels of Abarth “empowerment”, through which everyone can find their ideal performance level. From the entry-level car, the range continues with a specific kit, through to the “assetto corse” racing set-up which represents the ultimate Abarth performance.

Original and extremely eye-catching, the display area is characterised by those elements of the Scorpion philosophy that have made it so unique and popular worldwide: the tough spirit, speed, and an innate desire to win.

Compared to previous shows, nothing has changed as far as the brand’s distinctive identity is concerned: the colour red, a great passion for cars, the red and white chequered flag used to signal the end of endurance races (the competitions in which Abarth has notched up its greatest achievements), and the yellow and red shield with the black scorpion, representing the stinging zodiac sign of this mechanical genius. The beautiful polished white floor only adds to the dynamic look of the stand, while the materials and finishes almost fade into the background in order to show off the car and the kits – the real protagonists of the stand.

Fiat 500 Abarth Assetto Corse

Fiat 500 Abarth Assetto Corse

500 Abarth and the “esseesse” kit are sharing the Paris stage with another star: the 500 Abarth Assetto Corse, to represent the coming together of two worlds: racing and ordinary road driving. Each draws strength from the other in a mix of past and present, the historic and the contemporary, tradition and technology – an integral part of the Abarth story. The stand also makes room for technology, with interactive features like the car configurator so that visitors can view the different versions of each model. The parts look so real you can almost reach out and touch them. There is also a series of interactive screens which brings the Abarth world to life: a way to discover, hear and share that empowerment – the capacity to make a normal product into something outstanding – which makes Abarth unique.

Paris is the perfect opportunity to really find out about the world of Abarth preparation which is already proving to be a great hit with the “Assetto” and “esseesse” kits available for the Grande Punto Abarth 1.4 Turbo T-Jet 155 CV. Over 600 kits have been sold in just a few months. The distribution network, unique in its class and steadily growing, has been a key factor in achieving these significant results. The European target has been achieved, with 100 dealers now operating in Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Greece, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and Poland. There are 100 official converters and about 200 workshops. By year-end Abarth will make its début in non-European markets, first of all in Japan which is keenly awaiting the Scorpion’s arrival.

Fiat 500 Abarth Esseesse to be unveiled next month

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

A post appeared on the Abarth blog today with the news that the Esseesse kit for the new 500 Abarth will be shown in public for the first time at the Paris Motor Show, which opens on 4th October.

The post also mentions the Assetto Corse, which we’d already blogged about earlier, and Google interestingly translates as “Racing Trim.”

There are also a couple of new pictures of the 500 Abarth Esseesse:

Fiat 500 Abarth Esseesse

Fiat 500 Abarth Esseesse

Fiat 500 Abarth Assetto Corse

Fiat 500 Abarth Assetto Corse

Official Abarth clothing and accessories

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Looking for official Abarth clothing, merchandise and accessories?

You can now buy official Abarth merchandise through Abarthisti here.

If you’re looking for Abarth parts such as badges, headlights, grilles, and owners handbooks, Partsworld UK, run by UK Abarth dealer Autoworld, have a decent range listed on their website here.

Alternatively, if your Italian’s up to it, Milan-based DeniCar have an interesting range here.

Official Abarth clothing

Official Abarth clothing

Blue&Me phone compatibility and instructions

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

The UK Abarth models feature Fiat’s Blue&Me technology as standard. This primarily allows you to connect your phone wirelessly via Bluetooth to the car’s built-in hands-free system, and to play MP3s from your iPod or a USB stick. You can also use a series of voice commands to control the car’s stereo and, depending on your phone, dial numbers, answer calls and have SMS text messages read out to you.

The Fiat UK website has a mini-site that explains the basics of Blue&Me: Fiat UK Blue&Me.

You can also download a PDF document that covers Blue&Me functionality in greater detail: Blue&Me info (pdf), Blue&Me instructions (pdf).

A list of compatible phones is also available here: Blue&Me compatible phones.

And there’s a whole bunch of useful information on the Fiat Group website, including info on how to change languages and how to add the SMS reader to older versions of Blue&Me: More Blue&Me info.

Blue&Me USB adaptor in glovebox

Blue&Me USB adaptor in glovebox

How to fit the ‘esseesse’ kit to a Grande Punto Abarth

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Want to know what’s involved in fitting the ‘esseesse’ kit to a Grande Punto Abarth? Here’s the process, start to finish, in a 9m 46s video courtesy of YouTube member ‘millekrisztian’:

Fitting a Grande Punto Abarth

It’s on the boat!

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

A quick phone call from Ben at Westover this morning confirmed that my Grande Punto Abarth had been built and was starting its journey to the port at Portbury, near Bristol.

From there, it’ll be loaded onto a transporter with a few others and taken the 100-odd miles to Westover in Poole. Allow 4 or 5 days to schedule a PDI and, all being well, my car will be ready for collection some time in early October.

Autocar TV review of Abarth Grande Punto

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Autocar has posted a video review of the new Grande Punto Abarth, which you can see here.

Autocar video review

Autocar video review

They seem to quite like it!