Fiat: 2014 Punto Pop review

October 24th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

At $17,490 here you have one of the cheapest new cars on the New Zealand market, and it’s from Europe which means you can indulge in a bit of Euro brand snobbery. In fact, I’ve even seen them advertised for $16,990, and that’s just ridiculously low. Compared to what they cost in the UK, we get a pretty good deal which is definitely not the case with a lot of our marques. As far as I can tell from Fiat’s UK website the little Punto Pop sells for just over ten thousand pounds on the road which is the equivalent of twenty-one grand here. Continue reading “Fiat: 2014 Punto Pop review” »

Fiat reworks unpopular Punto for 2012

September 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Fiat’s super cute 500 is continuing to be a sales superstar in various global markets which has left its Punto sibling feeling like a bit of an ugly duckling. But Fiat is determined to keep the Punto looking sharp and has done some tweaking for the 2012 model.

The current Punto was first released back in 2005 as the Grand Punto, but it began to look its age. To combat this Fiat launched the reworked Punto Evo in 2009 but now that update isn’t selling anymore so its time for another update.

On the 2012 Punto, the black plastic mouldings have been dropped and the chrome trim on the nose. The interior has also seen some work and there’s two new engines on offer in global markets. Fiat’s popular 900cc two-cylinder unit can be  had and another 1.3-llitre MultiJet diesel has also joined the range. Continue reading “Fiat reworks unpopular Punto for 2012” »

Fiat drops covers on rally-spec Abarth 500 R3T

October 1st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Fiat Abarth 500 R3T fq

Abarth is at it again, securing whatever models it can from the growing Fiat network and pushing them to the extreme. The performance division was designated to handle Fiat’s rally activities, and took the IRC title in its formative year with the Punto Abarth S2000. Then they turned around and put their hot Punto on the road with the 155 horsepower Punto Abarth and 180 hp Punto Abarth EsseEsse.

More recently the scorpion badge has got its hands on the Fiat 500, and have churned out more performance variants than Porsche. The 500 Abarth debuted with 133 hp, then the 500 got an EsseEsse version of its own with 160hp. The track-bound 500 Abarth Assetto Corse followed with 200 horsepower, and at the recent Frankfurt show they unveiled the 695 Tributo Ferrari (read news item). More versions are predicted, and even more are apparently on the way — but not before the rally team has had a chance to debut the new Abarth 500 R3T.

Built to Group R3T specifications, a rally formula for turbocharged cars up to 1.6-litres in engine displacement, the rally-prepped 500 packs a 1.4-litre four cylinder engine with a Garret GT 1446 fixed-geometry turbocharger, good for 180 horsepower that’s channeled through a six-speed sequential transmission with twin-plate clutch and a locking differential. 17-inch OZ alloys are mounted to an adjustable suspension set-up and Brembo disc brakes are supplemented by a hydraulic handbrake. Inside, the 500 R3T has been fitted with a full roll cage and FIA-spec racing buckets with six-point harnesses, while dry weight comes in at just 1080kg (2380 lbs), the minimum for the category.

The vehicle was introduced last weekend at the Sanremo rally, where Abarth has won two of the past three years running, and it will be used in special promotional events as part of the Assetto Corse program.

Punto production passes 1 million

December 3rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Fiat Punto fq

The Fiat Punto has passed the million sales mark with the production of a right hand drive Punto Sport T-Jet in Passionate Red last week.

The sales landmark puts the latest Punto well on its way to matching the production runs of the first two generation of Fiat’s small car, with the first generation closing its account at 3.5 million and the second generation recording a sales run of 3.0 million, giving the Punto a total sales figure of 7.5 million cars for its three generations.

More than a quarter of Puntos produced are the performance versions, the Sport and Racing and 30 per cent of Punto buyers opt for the Blue&Me communications system. In markets where it has been launched, the Punto Natural Power system that can run on both petrol and methane now accounts for 24 per cent of sales.

Fiat Grande Punto Abarth now in the UK: 500 Abarth to come (+specs)

July 29th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


Fiat has relaunched the Abarth brand and has given the Grande Punto the Abarth treatment.

Grande Punto combines space, accommodation and flexibility with state-of-the-art technology and a rewarding driving experience which lends itself perfectly to Abarth engineering.

But that’s only the start: an Abarth version of Fiat’s new 500 supermini has just been launched in mainland Europe, and is scheduled for a UK introduction early next year.  And there are further exciting plans in the pipeline. Abarth’s fast-paced roll-out has initiated an expansion of its production capability in the division’s new home at the Mirafiori plant in Turin, Italy. These new premises group together Abarth’s manufacturing, motorsport, engineering, design and management departments.

Three versions of the Grande Punto Abarth will become available in the UK later this year: the 1.4 T-Jet priced from £13,500 on-the-road, and two further upgrade offers promising even more driver involvement. The first tuning kit, known as Assetto, is designed to enhance the chassis of the car, including the brakes and suspension. The kit includes ventilated and cross-drilled front brake discs, and cross-drilled rear discs, high performance (softer) front brake pads, special shorter (-15/20 mm) springs and 18-inch white painted alloy wheels fitted with 215/40 ZR18 Pirelli P Zero tyres.

The second option — known as the esseesse (SS) kit — primarily increases the power of the engine, and is only available in conjunction with the Assetto kit. It adds several components including a special air filter, a larger Garrett turbocharger, new injectors, larger diameter freeflow exhaust system, and a revised engine control unit with esseesse software. All of this boosts engine performance from 155 bhp to 180 bhp. Visually, the £3,500 esseesse kit includes unique logos for the tailgate, wing mirror covers and engine cover.

Compared with the standard Grande Punto, the Abarth’s track has been widened by 6 mm; it is equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels and the option of contrasting striping bearing the Abarth name along each side. The front bumper has been specially redesigned and houses the headlights set in a dark surround, while the larger air intakes, adapted to cater for the turbocharged engine’s cooling requirements, are enhanced with an exclusive Abarth design.

The sideskirts, wheel arch rims and black plastic underbody complete the fairing on the lower section, which is profiled to boost aerodynamic performance and extends as far as the tapered rear bumper. The Abarth badge is clearly visible, positioned in the centre of the front grille, the rear hatch, and on both flanks, at door handle height.

Inside, the Abarth touch is equally apparent. The charismatic Abarth scorpion badge is positioned on the passenger side of the dashboard, for example, while the ‘carbon effect’ central console is decorated with a textured cube motif. The car’s instrument panel has been given a sporty new design, and the same smart finish is used for both the steering wheel and gear stick — black leather with red stitching.

Driver and front passenger seats have also been designed to capture the style and driving experience of Abarth. Both have built-in head restraints, lumbar support and excellent lateral thigh support. On request, the seats and central dashboard section can be finished in full grain leather.

A comprehensive equipment package includes a host of safety and comfort-enhancing features. Safety features include window airbags, side airbags, height adjustable driver’s seat, Blue&Me hands-free communications system, foglights, rear head restraints, ABS and ESP. The importance of safety is also shown by the fact that ESP comes as standard and cannot be deactivated. Equipment designed to enhance comfort includes a radio/MP3 player, fully adjustable steering wheel, air conditioning, dark tinted windows, electric front windows, Dualdrive electric power steering and cruise control.

The launch of the Grande Punto Abarth is a tribute to an ‘army’ of small Fiats from the 1950s and 1960s, that were given a tough, dynamic and sporty edge by the ‘magic hands’ at Abarth. They were ‘scorpions’ with a real sting in the tail, igniting the passion of thousands of drivers with a taste for challenge, speed, and Italian flair. Today, the Grande Punto Abarth is the first of a series of road and competition cars aiming to bring back those former glory days of excitement, success and high performance.

The Grande Punto Abarth is fitted with a 1.4 turbo (T-Jet) petrol engine, delivering 155 bhp. Combining with a 6-speed manual gearbox, the engine gives the car a top speed of 129 mph, and a 0-62 mph acceleration time of just 8.2 seconds. The Grande Punto Abarth is not just a high performing small car — it is also safe, and respectful of the environment. Safe because the tuning is not limited to the engine and the aerodynamics: the car’s brakes and chassis set-up have also been upgraded and professionally engineered to cope with the improved performance.

Developed to combine the sporting performance and low NVH characteristics of a high-tech petrol engine with fuel economy comparable to a diesel unit, and CO2 emission levels which readily comply with increasingly stringent European regulation, the 1.4 litre T-Jet engine in the Grande Punto Abarth is already a well proven, durable and responsive engine.

Through cubic capacity downsizing allied to the adoption of a small turbocharger, this remarkably responsive 155 bhp 1.4 litre T-Jet engine delivers a performance equal to or better than a conventionally aspirated 2.0 litre engine with a reduction of between 10% and 20% in fuel consumption and emissions.

Employing state-of-the-art computer aided design and calculation systems to simulate unit stress under turbocharging, every aspect of this latest 1.4 litre powerplant has been re-evaluated. Three-dimensional computational fluid-dynamics studies of the entire thermodynamic cycle, injection phase and the engine cooling circuit, as well as thermo-mechanical analysis of cylinder head, block and piston stress, resulted in comprehensive redevelopment of the combustion system, intake and exhaust manifolds, camshaft profiles and phasing, intake system, engine coolant circulation and spark plugs.

Compared to the superseded 1.4 FIRE engine from where it traces its lineage, the Grande Punto Abarth’s 1.4 T-Jet engine features optimised intake port and manifold design; a revised injection system and a bespoke spark plug design to improve knock resistance and pre-ignition; a reduction in both inlet and exhaust valve lift time to optimise air mass flow; a reduction in compression ratio from 11:1 to 9.8:1; piston, connecting rod and crankshaft redesign; a new, reduced volume exhaust manifold for maximum exploitation of the exhaust pulse energy, and improved engine cooling efficiency through a revised coolant path and a redesigned water pump impeller.

Excellent combustion characteristics have allowed for the adoption of a notably small turbocharger. With a turbine diameter of only 33 mm, this highly compact and responsive unit is located directly above the exhaust manifold, with the attendant catalytic converter close-coupled to the turbine exit.

Via a ‘drive-by-wire’ throttle system, the 1.4 litre T-Jet engine provides outstanding low-end torque, almost entirely devoid of the lag in power delivery traditionally associated with turbocharger installations.

Via a Sport Boost button located in the centre console of the Grande Punto Abarth, the engine will deliver an impressive 169 lb ft of torque at 3000 rpm, (152lb ft in normal mode), endowing the vehicle with a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 129 mph. Notwithstanding such strong performance, this superbly responsive powerplant will nevertheless return over 40 mpg in the combined cycle and restrict CO2 emissions to just 162 g/km.

Additionally use of the Sport Boost function modifies the amount of steering effort required by the driver, so as to give a sportier feel.

Grande Punto Abarth is eco-friendly because, despite having far more horsepower than the model on which it is based, it complies with the same legislation on noise and emissions (Euro 4 approved engine). Developed by Abarth’s team of specialist designers and engineers, along with the technicians who produced the Fiat Grande Punto (one of Europe’s most successful cars), the Grande Punto Abarth is factory-built, and is subject to all the regulations and rigorous checks applied to standard models.

For top stopping power the car is equipped with disc brakes all round; the front brakes being ventilated and equipped with powerful Brembo fixed four-piston callipers.

The Grande Punto Abarth’s suspension is based on the tried and tested set-up of the Fiat Grande Punto, which means MacPherson struts and anti-roll bar at the front and torsion beam suspension at the rear, but it is significantly modified. The anti-roll bar has been thickened (diameter 19 mm), the front springs are 20 per cent stiffer, and the ride height is lowered by 10 mm. With this combination in place, the car provides impeccable road holding and enhanced driver involvement while maintaining a high standard of comfort.


The Assettoand esseesse kits, which are delivered to customers packed in original wooden crates — in keeping with Abarth tradition — may only be sold and installed by the official network of Abarth Assetto Corse tuners on a Grande Punto Abarth 1.4 Turbo T-Jet 155 bhp. This conversion must take place within one year or 20,000 km (12,000 miles) from its first registration. Conversions are covered by a two-year Abarth warranty from the installation date.

Fitted with the full esseesse kit, the Grande Punto Abarth has more than twice the power of the basic Fiat Grande Punto model (a statistic repeated throughout Abarth’s history: the Fiat 500 from 1958 had 13 bhp, while the Abarth-modified car boasted 26). With the full Abarth treatment and fitted with a 1.4-litre 16v turbo engine enhanced to 180 bhp (at 5750 rpm) and with a maximum torque of 272 Nm at 2750 rpm, (200 lb ft), the Grande Punto Abarth esseesse can achieve a maximum speed of 133 mph, accelerating from 0-62 mph in just 7.5 seconds. The modifications to the brakes and suspension contained within the kit mean the Grande Punto Abarth is more than capable of transmitting all this power to the road in a usable, safe and enjoyable manner.

The finishing touches to the kit include 18-inch alloy wheels and various mechanical modifications to alter the car’s dynamics, for example: the special set-up (both the front and rear suspension are lowered by a further 20 mm compared with the standard Grande Punto Abarth), and the enhanced braking system (the front discs are cross-drilled and fitted with softer, high-performance pads).

An integrated product, the esseesse kit is also safe, since the engine cannot be tuned unless the brakes are enhanced and the set-up is modified at the same time. All this will only be possible at Abarth tuning centres.

As a first step up from the standard Grande Punto Abarth, a handling (Assetto) kit is offered, which includes springs that lower the ride height by 15-20mm, special front brake pads, cross-drilled front disc brakes and alloy wheels with very low profile tyres. The full kit, comprising engine and chassis modifications (esseesse) includes: Garrett GT 1446 turbocharger which increases boost pressure from 1.3 to 1.5 bar, new water and oil pipes to the turbo, new exhaust manifold, heat shield, complete injector rail, MAP sensor, boost sensor, modified catalytic converter, larger diameter exhaust, new intercooler pipework, adapted radiator pipe, new water pump, wastegate valve, and new engine ECU.


The second car to receive Abarth’s exceptional engineering work is the iconic 500, which set the motoring world alight following its launch in July 2007. Faithful to the ‘small but wicked’ phrase coined for Abarth cars in the 1950s, the new 500 Abarth, which is making its mainland Europe debut this summer, is a small car with stunning performance. Powered by a similar 1.4-litre 16-valve Turbo petrol engine, it delivers a maximum 135 bhp at 5500 rpm and peak torque of 206 Nm (152 lb ft) at 3000 rpm in ‘Sport’ mode. In ‘Normal’ mode the maximum torque becomes 180 Nm (132 lb ft) at 2500 rpm.

The new 500 Abarth is rapid but also environmentally aware: just like the regular Fiat 500, it is built to Euro 5 standards well in advance of forthcoming legislation. The Abarth version also features the new TTC (Torque Transfer Control) feature which improves the transfer of drive torque to the wheels but, above all, ensures that the car behaves impeccably while cornering, making it even safer and more entertaining to drive when travelling at speed.

Like its Grande Punto stablemate, the 500 Abarth is no mere styling exercise. The assertive yet practical design is driven by the need to improve the 500 Abarth’s performance. Perhaps the best demonstration of this set-up is the particular care and attention that went into the aerodynamics and functionality of certain elements of the car. Compared with the basic car’s body, for example, the 500 Abarth has improved dynamic performance thanks to the extension of the roof with a large fin spoiler, and a ‘slide’ from the underbody to the air intakes, taking in a large section of the rear bumper. Two tailpipes are fitted on either side of this ‘slide’, placed symmetrically at the outlets to a single silencer positioned transversely. (They also have the Scorpion logo, just like they did in the 1960s.)

The front of the car also clearly demonstrates the 500 Abarth’s sporting credentials. There’s a triple air intake — the central one being larger than on the series model — and a much broader opening above the number plate. Additionally, two symmetrical ‘nostrils’ on each side of the bumper correspond exactly to the position of the two identical intercoolers, which can be seen through these apertures, guaranteeing optimum intake and airflow.

The nose, with its Abarth logo, has also been extended forwards to make space for the turbocharger, which gives the 500 Abarth a more pronounced, dramatic side profile, in keeping with the best Abarth tradition. On the old 850 TC and 1000 TC models, the external elements that made them so collectable were highly visible and recognisable as characteristics of the brand.

As with Grande Punto Abarth, the Abarth coat of arms appears on the flanks, pierced by a tricolour lightning bolt, just like on the Abarth 595 and 695 from the 1960s, symbolising the brand’s racing heritage. Sideskirts envelop the curves of the car, creating a more vertical profile and improving the Cd. Lastly, the 16-inch or 17-inch wheels come in a variety of different styles, including a multi-spoke and a holed version (a clear reference to certain stylistic features of forged wheels in the 1970s).

Inside, the 500 Abarth has a decidedly sporting feel, with special instrumentation and an analogue turbo pressure gauge. The main instrument panel has sporty graphics and includes a boost gauge/gearshift indicator, while the three-spoke steering wheel features special thumb-grips and is ‘flat’ at the base to make it easier to adjust. The distinctly ‘racing’ feel is also in evidence in the pedals, which are aluminium with rubber inserts, in the gear lever knob (upholstered in leather with a sporty, more ergonomic grip) and in the ‘unified’ seats with head restraints built into the seat backs. Lastly, the roof lining and side trims are black, giving the cabin an appropriately sporty look.


* 4 cylinders in line, 4 valves per cylinder, 1368 cc
* Power: 155 hp at 5500 rpm
* Max torque 206 Nm at 3000 rpm (230 Nm at 3000 rpm Sport Boost mode)
* Drive-by-wire throttle with no mechanical connection
* Garrett IHI RHF3-P10.5 fixed geometry turbocharger
* 6-speed gearbox
* Dual cable external gearbox drive
Suspension and steering
* MacPherson strut front and anti-roll bar
* Torsion beam suspension at the rear
* Lowered sports suspension
* Electric power steering with Sport Boost mode
* Fixed front calliper: Brembo M4x40, four piston
* Ventilated front brake disc ø 305 mm x 28 mm
* Rear calliper with piston ø 54 mm
* Rear brake disc ø 264 mm x 11 mm
* Deepened front and rear bumpers
Wheels & Tyres
* Aluminium alloy, 7″ x 17″
* Tyres: 215/45R17
CO2 emissions
* 162 g/km
Fuel consumption
* Urban consumption: 29.4 mpg
* Extra-urban consumption: 53.3 mpg
* Combined consumption: 40.9 mpg
* length 4041 mm
* width 1721 mm
* height 1490 mm
* 1185 kg
* Top speed 129 mph
* 0-62mph 8.2 secs


* Four cylinders in line, 4 valves per cylinder, 1368 cc
* Output: 180bhp at 5750 rpm
* Max torque 272 Nm at 2750 rpm
* Drive-by-wire throttle with no mechanical connection
* Garrett GT 1446 fixed displacement turbocharger
* 6-speed gearbox
* Dual cable external gearbox control
Suspension and steering
* MacPherson strut front and anti-roll bar
* Torsion beam suspension at the rear
* Lowered sports suspension
* Electric power steering with Sport Boost mode
* Fixed front callipers: Brembo M4x40, dual piston
* Ventilated front discs ø 305 mm x 28 mm
* Rear callipers with piston ø 54 mm
* Rear discs ø 264 mm x 11 mm
* Deep front and rear bumpers, spoiler, sideskirts
Wheels & Tyres
* Aluminium alloy, 7″ x 18″
* Tyres: 215/40 ZR18
* Top Speed 133 mph
* 0-62 mph 7.5 secs

500 ABARTH 1.4 16V TURBO T-JET (135 BHP)
* 4 cylinders in line, 4 valves per cylinder, 1368 cm3
* Power output:  135 bhp at 5500 rpm
* Peak torque: 206 Nm at 3000 rpm in Sport Boost mode
* Fixed geometry IHI RHF3-P turbocharger
* 5-speed gearbox C510
* Front: MacPherson strut and anti-roll bar
* Rear: Torsion beam with anti-roll bar
* Lowered sports suspension
* Dualdrive Electric power steering with SPORT mode
* ZPH 4.1.2 floating front calliper, ø 54mm piston
* Ventilated front brake discs, ø 284 x 22 mm
* CII 34 floating rear calliper, ø 34 mm piston
* Rear brake discs, ø 240 mm x 11 mm
Wheels & Tyres
* Standard: 6.5″x16″ aluminium wheels. Tyres: 195/45 R16″
* Option: 7″x17″ aluminium wheels. Tyres: 205/40 R17″
Ecology level
* Compliance with the Euro 5 CEE-F5 standard
CO2 emissions
* 155 g/km
Fuel consumption
* Urban consumption: 33.2 mpg
* Extra-urban consumption: 52.3 mpg
* Combined consumption: 43.4 mpg

* Top speed: 127 mph
* 0-62 mph: 7.9 secs

Passive Safety— as for Fiat 500
Active Safety— ABS, ASR, ESP etc
Standard Equipment — Grande Punto Abarth

* Radio/MP3 player
* Rear spoiler
* Sideskirts
* Window airbags
* Red Brembo brake callipers
* Side airbags
* 17-inch alloy wheels
* Height adjustable driver’s seat
* Fix&Go tyre repair kit
* Blue&Me
* Audio hi-fi system
* Remote central locking
* Adjustable steering wheel
* Air conditioning
* Electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors
* Dark tinted windows
* Foglights
* Leather steering wheel and gear knob
* Locking petrol cap
* ABS anti-lock braking
* Electric front windows
* Dualdrive electric power steering
* Rear head restraints
* Cruise control

Other standard features:

* Six-speed gearbox
* Body-coloured door handles
* Lowered suspension
* Chrome tailpipes
* Sports instruments
* Immobiliser
* Electric internal boot release
* Illuminated boot
* Trip computer
* Passenger airbag deactivation

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