Fiat is getting ready to launch, what could be, the country’s first affordable hot-hatchback – The Fiat Abarth Punto Evo – sometime soon. While units of the hatchback have been dispatched to some dealerships, the date of its launch remains a mystery. While we can confirm that the launch is sometime around October-November, with a launch date closer to Divali. Abarth dealerships around the country have started accepting bookings for the car, but these are unofficial for now.
The Fiat Abarth Punto Evo, when launched, will become the first hatchback launched in the country to fulfil the criteria of a hot-hatchback. It has a very powerful motor (developing an estimated 145PS of maximum power) connected to a manual-transmission with a sportier suspension setup – it fits the bill better than any other hatchback in the market. All this performance will not leave a huge hole in the pockets of those who have been waiting for such a machine for long time thankfully; the Fiat Abarth Punto Evo is expected to be slotted below the Rs. 10 Lakh, ex-showroom mark.
In terms of design, the Fiat Abarth Punto Evo is mostly similar to the Punto Evo, the facelift of the Punto hatch launched in August 2014. All ‘Fiat’ badges have been replaced by ‘Abarth’ badges, the car gets a base-colour-and-contrast-trim theme, the 16-inch matte-black multi-spoke alloy wheels look sinister, the exterior look is topped-off with a sporty-looking chrome exhaust-tip. Inside, the design is more or less the same as the Punto Evo though the car gets an all-black theme, the seats get red-and-yellow contrast stitching to reflect the Abarth logo colours, the badge on the steering wheel reads Abarth and the pedals are different (read sportier-looking).
Fiat has plonked in the more powerful 1.4-litre T-Jet engine from the Linea T-Jet, but has tuned it develop around 145PS, a bump of over 30PS! It also develops 212Nm of torque which is 5Nm more than the engine on the Linea. All this power is sent to the front wheels (shod with 195/55 R16 tyres) via a 5-speed manual gearbox. The powertrain is new, but Fiat has beefed up the whole package make it a complete hooning machine. The steering, a hydraulic-assisted unit, has been left as such but the suspension has been stiffened up, the car has been lowered by 30mm (though it is kind of hard to spot that), disc-brakes have been fitted all around and ABS+EBD is on offer to keep the car under control.
The closest competitor to the Fiat Abarth Punto Evo is the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI, but the are not evenly matched. While the Abarth Punto is more powerful and is generally a better handler, the Polo GT TSI gets a quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic transmission coupled to an eager engine and a pliant suspension setup in its favour.
The perceived demand for the Fiat Abarth Punto Evo is so high that Fiat is also considering giving the Linea the same treatment. There are rumours that the company is seriously considering developing an Abarth Linea for the Indian market. Exiting times ahead for car enthusiasts in the country!