Posts Tagged ‘Grande Punto Abarth’

Two years with an Abarth Grande Punto

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

I’ve owned my Abarth Grande Punto for nearly two years now, and in that time, I’ve only managed to clock up a feeble 9,500 miles.

I think it’s fair to say I’ve had a few ‘issues’:-

  • Abarth side-stripes replaced due to poor application by supplying dealer
  • Rattling C-pillar interior trim fixed with foam padding
  • Exterior trim at base of windscreen replaced after coming adrift
  • Plastic wheel-arch liner replaced (twice) after coming adrift
  • Front passenger seat replaced after stitching failed
  • Driver’s door replaced due to failed seam weld
  • Front suspension top-mounts failed four times

A few other issues have popped up along the way, too, but have either never been resolved, or I’ve just learnt to live with them – a rattling passenger seat mount, and the ubiquitous knocking door latches, for example.

There are plenty of design ‘faults’ that continue to infuriate me – the useless windscreen washers, the sun visors that won’t stay put, the lack of a cancel button for the cruise control, the uncommunicative steering, plus a few other niggles.

However (and probably to the amazement of most other Abarth owners), I’ve never had a single problem with Blue&Me.  And, although my brakes squeal occasionally, it really doesn’t bother me.

I’ve averaged 34mpg (according to the trip computer), and had one service (£253).  There’s plenty of life left in my tyres, too.

So, what now?  I think I feel a change coming on…

New Abarth developments for 2010

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Here’s a quick run-down of what we understand will be the main developments for Abarth in the UK next year:

The Abarth 500C comes to the UK in June July 2010.  Expect it to feature Start&Stop technology as standard, plus Xenon headlights and rear parking sensors.  This will mean an uplift in prices, as these options by themselves would normally add £1,050 to the price of a standard 500C.  No word yet on exactly what the sticker price will be, though.

The Abarth 500 continues largely unchanged for 2010, having already had its options list extended a couple of months ago with Xenons, etc.  Contrary to rumours, it won’t be getting the new MultiAir engine until 2011 at the earliest, so fence-sitters might as well get their orders in now.

The new Abarth Grande Punto will arrive in July 2010.  It won’t be called Punto Evo – that will be reserved for its Fiat brother – but will instead retain the Grande Punto name.  Its design is said to widen the gap between the Fiat and Abarth versions, and we’re hoping that means no Armco barrier across the front bumper or ugly Chrysler badge.

It’ll come with a 1.4-litre turbocharged MultiAir engine developing 170bhp 165 bhp (for some reason!) as standard.  Start&Stop will be standard, too.  More exciting, though, is the option of an MTA (automated manual) transmission, possibly with steering wheel-mounted paddles (update: still no word on this).

An Assetto handling kit will be available from launch, but the esseesse kit will follow on later.  Details of the kit are still being worked on. (update: esseesse likely to be available first, although with a disappointing 15 bhp increase).

The last piece of news is that the Abarth hillclimb challenge, using the Abarth Grande Punto 500, will likely make a repeat appearance for 2010, with an anticipated eight events across the country.

(Various updates applied as news comes through).

Keith Cronin enters privately-run Grande Punto Abarth S2000 in IRC Rally Scotland

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Keith Cronin will be entering a privately-run Grande Punto Abarth S2000 in this weekend’s IRC Rally Scotland.

Keith Cronin's Grande Punto Abarth S2000 during prep

Keith Cronin's Grande Punto Abarth S2000 during prep

The British Rally Champion arrived in Perthshire earlier in the week to conduct testing and reconnaissance of the stages.

Since early in the year, plans were being made to contest Rally Scotland so that the team could test their pace against the regular IRC competitors. The original intention was to contest the event in their regular Mitsubishi. However, as the Cronin Motorsport team intend to contest a number of rounds of the IRC next season, it was decided that having won the British Rally Championship, they should get a taste of S2000 action prior to next year.

It took 10 days to get an acceptable deal put together for the hire of the PROCAR run Abarth Punto. A short testing session in Italy at the end of October was curtailed due to very heavy rainfall, so the crew will welcome another test before having to press into action against the current IRC champion Kris Meeke in his Peugeot, who is the number one seed. Seeded at number two is Guy Wilks, who was British Rally Champion in 2007 & 2008. He will drive a Skoda. Both of these will be very much the pacesetters as they have been competing in S2000 cars all season. Cronin and Shinnors are seeded at number 3 in the Punto, just ahead of Adam Gould who was awarded the BF Goodrich drive in a sister car to Meekes Peugeot.

Cronin welcomes the opportunity to compete at this level but knows that it will be a steep learning curve as the pace in these cars is much faster than the regular Group N cars.

Last weekend he commented “The most important thing for me in Scotland is to get mileage in the car to get used to the different driving style and then build my speed and hopefully set some competitive times.”


Abarth unveils Abarth 500 R3T rally car

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Abarth is continuing its tradition of building accessible competition machinery with the unveiling of its new Abarth 500 R3T rally car.

Revealed for the first time at this month’s 51st San Remo Rally, the Abarth 500 R3T will feature in a one-make rallying trophy in 2010. The European and Italian Trophies for the Abarth 500 Assetto Corse circuit racer will continue.

Abarth 500 R3T rally car

Abarth 500 R3T rally car

For Abarth, the new car marks a return to a discipline in which it has been present for more than 30 years. Starting in 1977 with the first edition of the Autobianchi A112 Abarth Championship, Abarth continued with the Fiat Uno, Uno Turbo, Cinquecento, Seicento, Punto Kit and Super 1600, Stilo and Panda Kit Trophies.

The Abarth 500 rally car will be homologated in group R3T, a category reserved for supercharged cars with a maximum cylinder capacity of 1600cc. This class represents good value through its cost/performance ratio and is ideal for privateers and young drivers wishing to showcase their talent at the wheel of a high-performance car.

The Abarth 500 R3T’s 1368cc engine is fitted with a Garrett GT 1446 fixed geometry turbocharger, delivering 180bhp (132kW) at 5500rpm. It is equipped with a 6-speed sequential gearbox, a self-locking blade differential, twin disc clutch and special half-shafts.

Attention has been paid to the possibility of adjusting the suspension to adapt the set-up to suit different surfaces and drivers’ styles. Four Brembo disc brakes – ventilated at the front, solid at the rear – with an adjustable split system, provide the stopping power. The car also features a hydraulic hand brake.

Abarth 500 R3T rally car

Abarth 500 R3T rally car

The 1080kg Abarth 500 is fitted with a specific welded-in roll-cage integrated to the body shell, FIA homologated seats with 6-point harnesses and other necessary safety devices.

“Abarth’s ability to produce high quality racing and rallying machinery has never been in question,” says Ivan Gibson, manager, Abarth brand UK. “We have already seen how good the Abarth 500 race car is, and I am looking forward to watching this new rally car perform.”

The calendar for the Abarth rally trophy will be published later this year.

Meanwhile, the Abarth UK Hill Climb programme has ended for this season with the team’s two Abarth Grande Punto esseesse cars once again posting impressive times in the hands of UK journalists.

At last weekend’s Prescott Autumn Classic Hill Climb, Cheltenham – the seventh event this year for the Abarth UK team – writer and columnist John Simister managed a time of 54.81 seconds followed by fellow journalists Tim Dickson (55.20 secs) and John Swift (55.23 secs).

The Abarth UK team in action at Prescott

The Abarth UK team in action at Prescott

The times proved that the 180bhp Abarth Grande Puntos are not only high performing road cars, but are more than capable of delivering results in competition. Neither vehicle has used any spare parts throughout the season, and both have run with 100 per cent reliability while being driven to and from all the events contested.

“These are remarkable times considering we have been using standard road cars, without modification for hill climbs,” says Howard Paterson, Abarth team manager. “The cars have been so quick and so good this year, and we have hardly had to do any work on them. They haven’t even had new brakes.”

Abarth “Record Monza” exhaust systems

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Abarth and Magneti Marelli engineers have developed a range of exhaust systems designated “Record Monza”. “Record Monza” exhausts are variable back-pressure systems capable of improving the performance and the sound of the engine and making it more characteristically “Abarth”.

Abarth “Record Monza” exhaust systems for Abarth 500

Abarth “Record Monza” exhaust systems for Abarth 500

These thoroughly innovative exhausts also embody one of the most authentic traditions of the Scorpion marque. Thanks to the racing experience and genius of Karl Abarth, the 1960’s saw the introduction of the famous Abarth performance kits whose key feature was an exhaust based on a simple but clever idea: these exhausts featured a central pipe of constant section with side passages through the fibreglass, and the elimination of all diaphragms to minimise exhaust gas compression. This simple but innovative system gave Abarth exhausts a clear advantage in terms of performance, and an unmistakable sound. In only a few years Abarth & C. achieved a global dimension: in 1962 the company’s staff of 375 people produced 257,000 exhausts, 65% of which were destined for export.

Faithful to this history, Abarth is offering the new range of “Record Monza” exhausts, with variable back pressure ‘dual mode’ design that improves the sound of the engine above 3000 rpm.

“Record Monza” exhausts can be mounted on the Abarth 500 , the Abarth Grande Punto, and on petrol versions of the Fiat 500, and come in a matt black finish, with chromed tail pipes sporting the Abarth logo in relief.

Update: UK price has been set at £759.87+VAT (£873.85 inc 15% VAT).

Grande Punto Abarth price increased

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

The UK price of the Grande Punto Abarth will be increased on 4th August 2009. The new on-the-road price will be £13,800, an increase of nearly £600.

As well as the price increase, there are a few revisions to the standard spec and the factory options.

The Interscope hi-fi system is no longer standard, nor is the 12v power socket in the boot, although both now become cost options at £250 and £35 respectively. The CD autochanger and the alternative 17″ alloy wheels appear to be missing from the options list, too, although we’re not sure if that means they’ve been deleted.

New options arrive in the shape of the front centre armrest that’s been available elsewhere in Europe since launch (£110), TPMS, the tyre pressure monitoring system (£250), and the Premium Pack which combines Climate Control and Interscope (£410).

The Sabelt seats also appear as a factory option, although in a move that I can only describe as misguided, they’ve been priced at the same level as in the accessory catalogue – an already eye-watering £2,250.

A new zero-cost option – 57X ‘Homologation Code’ – reduces the GPA’s emissions to 159 g/km (down from 162) when specified, and improves economy: 30.1 mpg urban (was 29.4), 54.3 mpg extra-urban (was 53.3), 42.2 mpg combined (was 40.9).

Option Code Price
Metallic paint (Black) 5CE £375
Sky Dome Electric sunroof 400 £725
Climate control 140 £270
Interscope Hi-fi system 4JF £250
Leather upholstery 732 £850
Front centre armrest (not with Sabelts) 132 £110
Abarth Corse Seats by Sabelt 4HV £2,250
Abarth Premium Pack (140+4JF) 5QH £410
Blue&Me Nav system 55Y £350
TPMS 365 £250
Red Stripes and mirrors (White cars only) 59A £160
12V Power point 823 £35
Smoker kit 989 £50
Homologation code 57X £0

Successful weekend of racing for Abarth in the UK

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Thousands of motorsport fans were treated to a spectacular weekend of racing as the Abarth 500 European series came to the UK.

British driver Adam Jones took full home advantage to post two wins out of two over the action-packed weekend (18/19 July) at Brands Hatch circuit in Kent. He was one of 11 drivers competing in the fourth round of the Abarth 500 Selenia-European Trophy – one of the main attractions at the race meeting.

Abarth 500 European Trophy at Brands Hatch

Abarth 500 European Trophy at Brands Hatch

The Abarth 500 Assetto Corse’s speed, driveability and balanced power/weight ratio made it ideal for the Kent track and the cars were completing the lap distance at an average of 130 km/h (80 mph), creating an exciting spectacle for the crowds.

“It was good to see the Abarth 500 race cars here in the UK and what better place to showcase them than Brands Hatch?” says Ivan Gibson, head of Abarth in the UK. “Both days’ races were full of drama, great driving and wonderful excitement – which is what the magic of Abarth is all about.”

The fight for overall victory will resume at the next meeting of the Abarth 500 Selenia-European Trophy, which is scheduled for 5-6 September in Germany.

Abarth 500 European Trophy at Brands Hatch

Abarth 500 European Trophy at Brands Hatch

Meanwhile, two more Abarth cars were competing in Britain over the weekend – this time Grande Punto versions, which were entered into the BARC Hillclimb Championship at Gurston Down, near Salisbury.

The event was part of Abarth UK’s media motorsport programme, and allowed four of Britain’s top motoring journalists behind the wheel for an experience of the sport. It was a close thing with less than two seconds separating the drivers – Owen Mildenhall and James Disdale (Auto Express), freelance writer Jesse Crosse and Performance Car’s Chris Knapman.

Grande Punto Abarth at BARC Hillclimb Championship, Gurston Down

Grande Punto Abarth at BARC Hillclimb Championship, Gurston Down

New “Abarth Corse by Sabelt” seats for 500 and Grande Punto Abarth

Monday, May 18th, 2009

The new seat “Abarth Corse by Sabelt” is born: a technologically evolved product which is the result of the cooperation between two Italian brands, sharing the same sportsmanship and technological values. In fact, Abarth once more found the ideal partner in Sabelt in order to develop this new product, which confirms the goal of the Scorpion brand to transfer to all its customers the functionality, in terms of performance and safety, of the racing world.

Abarth Corse by Sabelt for 500 Abarth

Abarth Corse by Sabelt seats for 500 Abarth

Designed by Sabelt Style Center, under supervision of Abarth Style Center, the new seats stem out of the same philosophy that inspired, in the 60’s, the creation of racing seats for the Abarths 595 and 695. These monococque seats, clearly sports featuring, were designed and produced by Roberto Fusina, with their rounded lines and marked containment bands, suitable either for track racing and road use.

Abarth Corse by Sabelt seats for Grande Punto Abarth

Abarth Corse by Sabelt seats for Grande Punto Abarth

Nowadays, the seats “Abarth Corse by Sabelt” match the typical features of sport seats – such as lightness (10 kilos less than production seats) and the capability of retaining the body under lateral and lengthwise drives, thanks to their mono-layer padding containment bands – with the ergonomy and comfort of the seats conceived for road use.

Abarth Corse by Sabelt seats for Grande Punto Abarth

Abarth Corse by Sabelt seats for Grande Punto Abarth

Equipped with a release and forward-tipping lever, the backrest embodies the headrest and shows the typical slit for the passage of four-point seat belts. In addition, the shell (with its newfangled supporting backrest) and the cushion plate are made out of white compound material, formed by structural polyester resins with 1″ glass fibres, and are moulded using state-of-the-art SMC (Sheet Moulding Compound) technology.

Available in two versions (Frau black leather and fretworked black Alcantara, or black “F1” technical fabric) the seats “Abarth Corse by Sabelt” are embellished with some details like, for instance, the aesthetic felled seams with red thread and the distinctive Abarth writing, while the silver colour typifies the Scorpion Logo placed on the backrest tilt knob.

After being presented at the recent Geneva show, the first seats “Abarth Corse by Sabelt” have been installed on 200 Abarth 500s used as courtesy cars by European Ferrari dealers. This renewed cooperation with the Maranello firm deepens its roots in many shared values, such as passion for performance, racing soul, care of details and Italian style, and in the certainty that the “little and wicked” will be capable of satisfying even the highly demanding clients of Ferrari. Featuring an exclusive colour and a coat inspired by the Ferrari 430 Scuderia, these special cars show typical sport features such as the seats “Abarth Corse by Sabelt”, the variable back-pressure exhaust “Abarth by Magneti Marelli” and the satellite navigator “Abarth Blue&MeTM MAP” with Telemetry function developed by Magneti Marelli.

Some contents of this special series will be soon included in the official Abarth Cars Accessories catalogue, allowing all clients to customize their cars with racing features. In particular, the seats “Abarth Corse by Sabelt” will be available not only to the cars of the “Scorpion” but also to the Fiat 500 and Fiat Grande Punto 3-door models.

Abarth Corse by Sabelt seats

Abarth Corse by Sabelt seats

Abarth Corse by Sabelt seats

Abarth Corse by Sabelt seats

Abarth Corse by Sabelt seats

Abarth Corse by Sabelt seats


Item Price
Black “F1” technical fabric £1,760 per pair
Frau black leather £2,250 per pair

Abarth Hillclimb Challenge starts with a Class Win

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

After an early season shakedown at Harewood Hillclimb in Yorkshire, Abarth UK kicked off its celebrity media motorsport programme with a class win last weekend. This came courtesy of Autocar’s Matt Rigby, during Bognor Regis Motor Club’s well supported Sprint at Goodwood circuit near Chichester.

The Abarth Hillclimb drivers

The Abarth Hillclimb drivers

The team’s two immaculate Abarth Grande Punto esseesse cars formed part of a 94-strong entry, and were driven to great effect by four members of Autocar’s editorial team, led home by Rigby who finally won the standard car class, just 0.4 seconds ahead of team mate Ollie Stallwood in second place.

Rigby’s previous motorsport experience, limited solely to endurance go-karting, provided ample encouragement for his team mates, who nevertheless just failed to eclipse the young road tester, who sportingly attributed his success to the forgiving nature of the Abarth Grande Punto. “It was a joy to drive around Goodwood circuit, and I was able to improve my time by over three seconds on the final run – just enough to stay ahead of Ollie!”

Grande Punto Abarth at Goodwood

Grande Punto Abarth at Goodwood

A series of hillclimb events now await the team as it prepares for Doune, near Stirling, in Scotland on 20/21 June; Shelsley Walsh (Worcester) 4 July; Gurston Down (Somerset) 19 July, and Harewood (Yorkshire) 2 August. Abarth UK’s motorsport season closes with another Sprint at Thoresby Park, Nottingham, on 12 September.

Ivan Gibson, head of the Abarth brand in the UK, says: “This programme was devised with the basic idea in mind that an enthusiast can enjoy competitive club motorsport with an Abarth road car at the weekends, while using it normally for all domestic duties during the week. We’re delighted that Autocar was able to provide our first team this season, and congratulate Matt Rigby on a great drive.”

Grande Punto Abarth at Goodwood

Grande Punto Abarth at Goodwood

The Abarth Grande Punto esseesse, which is available through Abarth’s 16-strong UK dealer network, is powered by a 180bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged T-Jet engine which delivers 272Nm of torque at 2750rpm through a six speed gearbox. Top speed is 133mph, with 0-62mph acceleration in 7.5 seconds.

Grande Punto Abarth takes to the Hillclimbs

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Abarth will be attending a series of hillclimbs at venues across the UK to showcase the performance of the Grande Punto Abarth.  The events will be organised by local motorsport clubs and will take place at the following dates and venues:

Abarth will be entering two Grande Punto Abarth esseesse at each event, driven by selected motoring journalists, who will have been driving the cars on the road for a week prior to the event so as to gain an all-round picture of the car’s performance.

Local dealers have been invited to enter their own demonstrators, and Abarth owners can also compete.  However, to do this you’ll need to apply for a competition licence, and will have to pay both for membership of the organising club and the event entry fee (typically around £100 for each event).

Spectators are welcome to most events (admission is typically around £10 per person), and the Abarth hospitality rig will be in attendance.

Grande Punto Abarth at Hillclimb circuit

Grande Punto Abarth at Hillclimb circuit