We’d told you earlier that Fiat would be bringing its high-performance Abarth brand to India to add some zing to its model line-up and also boost its brand image. We can now report that you won’t have to wait much longer, as the brand will be hitting showrooms by August this year with not one, but three models.
The first will be the Abarth 595 – which we’ve already tested on Indian roads. It’s a higher performance version of the Abarth 500, which in turn, is a high-performance version of the Fiat 500, which was on sale in India previously in diesel guise. This stylish 158bhp hot hatchback will be brought in as a full CBU import, so you can expect a relatively high price of around Rs 27-30 lakh, which puts it right in the sights of the Mini Cooper. The engine is a highly strung version of the 1.4-litre T-Jet turbo-petrol motor you find in the Linea, and it gets a much stiffer suspension setup and bigger wheels compared to the standard car. It’s a car that should appeal to those trendy folk who want a bit of performance in a small, city-friendly package.
Much more exciting though, is the car that will follow after – the Fiat Punto Evo Abarth. It too will get the 1.4-litre T-Jet motor, albeit in a slightly lower 135bhp state of tune. That, however, will still make it, by far, the most powerful car in its segment. It will be Abarth branded, and will likely get sportier bumpers, wheels and decals too. Fiat could even give it a stiffer suspension set-up for better handling. The best part is, unlike the 595, this car will be locally assembled alongside the standard Punto Evo, so it will be very competitively priced. In fact, Fiat is working hard to localise as much of the car as possible to keep prices down, and since the 1.4 T-Jet is already in India in its 112bhp guise, applying the update to 135bhp will be easier to carry out. Another fun fact is that while the global Punto Abarth is a three-door car, ours will be a five-door. The closest thing this car has to a rival is the VW Polo GT TSI, which is an automatic, is down on power compared to the T-Jet, and uses the same suspension as the standard car.
The third car to get the Abarth treatment will be the Avventura, but the changes won’t be as significant as in the other two. The Avventura will get only the 135bhp T-Jet motor, without the accompanying suspension and visual changes that will come to the Punto Evo Abarth. It will look like the standard car, and rather than full-on Abarth branding, it will get a badge that says ‘Powered by Abarth’. This one is clearly targeted directly at the Ford EcoSport and its 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, and while the Abarth makes around 10bhp more than the Ford, its torque figure is likely to be a fair bit higher.
Fiat wants Abarth to be a performance brand ‘for a variety of pockets and tastes’, and for that, pricing will be key. With heavy localisation, we can hope that the Abarth Punto Evo, and maybe even the T-Jet Avventura, make it within the Rs 10 lakh cut. What’s clear is that, despite currently having a model range of just three cars (now adding a fourth with the 595), with the introduction of Abarth to India, Fiat is really keen to quickly expand its brand and attract a variety of new buyers.