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FIAT PUNTO ABARTH: QUICK LITTLE SCORPION

Fiat Punto Evo, launched back in 2014 satisfied us with its aesthetics and adaptability to our roads while not compromising on the ride quality; it brought a much needed evolution to the Fiat Punto. Now, we have the Fiat Punto Abarth, while it borrows most of its design language from the Evo, we are curious about the scorpion badge on the bonnet that says “Abarth”. Abarth is a racing car and road car maker founded by Italo-Austrian Carlo Abarth in 1949, and has been working under Fiat since 1971 as their racing department. To put it simply, Abarth knows how to make fast cars. How has the scorpion tricked out this Punto?? Let’s take a look.

EXTERIOR

Looking at the Punto Abarth there are clear signs of designs carried over from the Punto Evo, but then there are additions to it much needed by a hot hatch. In the Abarth trim, it’s even more evocative with lots of chrome bits on the grille, fog and rear light housing, door handles and exhaust tip. Spend a few minutes with the Abarth Punto and you’ll find it has more scorpions than sub-Saharan Africa.

The front and rear decals, the aluminum pedals, the alloys, steering wheel are all stamped with the brand’s logo and even a massive scorpion sticker on the roof! Over to the side you’ll find a racing decal that says “Abarth” and gives you a subtle reminder that this car is fast. However, the most eye catching part of this hatch is that aggressive 16 inch 5 spoke alloy wheels with the spokes that look like a scorpion’s stinger and the Abarth badge on all wheels.

INTERIOR

On the inside, the sportier theme continues with an-all black color theme for dashboard and seat fabrics. Plus, the seats and the instrument cluster get a yellow and red color finish (colors from the Abarth logo), adding some flair to the otherwise largely unchanged design. The all black dashboard has very good finish and the stylish ambient lighting on the instrument along with fabric inserts on door trims and door inserts completed the premium feel. We have all black soft touch front panels, ambient lighting on the dashboard, fabric inserts on door trim and door arm rest, a rear parcel shelf and a boot lamp.

On top of this it also comes with a host of convenience provided by foldable key, electrically adjustable rear view mirrors, 60:40 split rear seats, sporty seat and upholstery. There’s Bluetooth, navigation, steering mounted controls all of which are interacted through via a 5 inch display. Safety and security has also been given priority with the availability of airbags with crash sensors, ABS and EBD, automatic door lock, fire prevention system and many more

PERFORMANCE

Under the hood is what the Abarth has tried to make its presence felt the most, a 5 speed manual gearbox paired with a 1.4L T-Jet engine that churns out 145 brake horse power and with the front wheels scrabbling to put all the power and torque down, the engine propels this scorpion to 100kph from standstill in 9.41sec – making it the first of the mainstream hatchbacks to crack the 10 second barrier. And if the right pedal is buried to the floor, the Abarth Punto will quickly cross 180kph. With the turbo spinning strongly, there’s no lag in power especially in the short, lower gears. The 6,500rpm rev limit comes up in no time and each upshift puts you smack in the meat of the power band. Because you don’t need to rev the guts out of this engine, the Abarth, riding on a massive wave of torque, feels deceptively quick.

The driving position is perfect with appropriate visibility. Maneuvering the car in busy traffic may seem slightly heavy due to its hydraulic steering at first but it gets much lighter once you gain speed. The steering feels well weighted and confident even while cornering at high speeds which help you establish a connection with the car instantly. Combine it to the stiff suspensions and you have one of the most accurately steering cars in its segment.

The Abarth’s suspension set-up is stiffer than the standard Punto’s to better cope with the increase in power and this is quite obvious in the way it rides. The reworked spring and damper ratings give it a firm edge over uneven surfaces. The brakes have been worked on too. The Abarth Punto comes with disc brakes on all four wheels, with ABS and EBD as standard.

Turning into a tight corner, the grippy tyres take total control and the Punto maintains its set course. Although spring ratings have been tighten a bit, the ride is supple while driving on straights or going over bumps. Though there’s a drop in ground clearance its still high enough (155 mm) for the underbelly to not leave its mark on the speed bumps.

VERDICT

When talking cars, ‘performance’ and ‘budget’ are two words that you don’t often mention in the same breath. Especially in our part of the world. There’s always a compromise that you have to make, either in the name of family needs, practicality or fuel-economy. The Fiat Punto Abarth, however, comes the closest to bridging that gap in this particular segment. It can carry your family in relative comfort along with luggage.

It is fuel efficient which means you don’t need to own a gas station to pay for those fuel bills. It has 145 horses under the hood and is easy to drive in the city. But when that light turns green, and traffic fades way in the rear-view mirror, you will know that this scorpion means serious business.

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