Published On: Fri, Dec 2nd, 2016

Embarking the end of the Scorpion month with Fiat Scorpions- Abarth

Its not easy to resist them nor are they easy to choose from (NOTE: Its not your everyday article)

An Ode to Fiat India

Having global Fiat products uncompromised on performance, safety or quality making their way into the Indian market with few changes to better suit the Indian road conditions has just changed the way the Indian Automobile market had been functioning over the past few years. This precise commitment from Fiat is the reason I still see Fiat Premier owners embracing their cars and only purchasing Fiat cars in their family, that too in the National Capital. When I was a kid one fanatic car lover told me, “the charm of Fiat car is never fades” well it took me nearly a decade to get into his shoes. Now again I have taken a decade to come to a point where my words carry the worth for what these fantastic machines are. Now I have a clean slate to begin a new chapter and I just hope this one take another decade……. 

There is always a lot air of mystery around Scorpions as in the actual Scorpions and the people born this Zodiac sign. Moreover there is even more mystery in our country around the Scorpions from Fiat, yes I am talking about the ABARTH range of products from Fiat. They currently offer the Abarth Punto, Abarth powered Avventura, Abarth powered Urban Cross and the Abarth 595 Competizione. The Avventura and Urban Cross are powered by Abarth and the other two are full grown Abarth versions. The Urban Cross wasn’t available for this test but we did manage to get our hands on the other three Scorpions for this month and it was………ahhhmmmm  don’t expect me to sum it up in a word I am writing a whole article for it!!!!!!!

Scorpions are infamous for their “Venomous Sting” that is one of their formidable traits, there is much more that they can be associated with but reputation they carry for their “Sting” creates a whole atmosphere of fear and mystery.  Same is true for the Abarth range of cars, most people are left with more questions than answers when they pass by an Abarth or drive them, when in the passenger seat…….we can see them sweat even with the air-conditioning turned on. Other plead to get off the car and they even do at times, kudos to the cab companies for ferrying such people around. I am not blaming them, its just that not everybody can digest this recipe.

F.Y.I. The editor refused to step in the passenger seat, when another scorpion was behind the wheel.

Scorpions take on ABARTH range of products in India

Drive them once and you will keep lingering for more. Returning such cars is the saddest part of my profession. I have supposedly come in tune with Abarth range of products and the melody of this mix is definitely my favourite, which I would prefer to be played in repeat……but like every good thing the testing period had to come to an end. I was certainly heartbroken to return all of them. Well that might not be for all you, still I recommend to test drive these to get an actual zest of the feeling I am describing here. Next would br your decision to go forward with the purchase or not. Afterall its not everyone’s cup of tea here, its clichéd but very much apt to be used for these vehicles. It is a must must experience for all.

There is no car in this country that can match the ride and feel of and Abarth. There will be Polo GT fans screaming blah blah about their vehicles but that comes nowhere near this experience, trust me on this one. Trust me on this one I personally was a Polo GT fan too until I experienced Abarth range of products.

Either you will love Abarth products or you will be too scared to live with them, there is no other side to the coin. Every product is crafted with such fineness, it can leave you surprised. Fiat has always treated India with priority since the very beginning. Recall the days of the good old 1.6 Palio GTX. Enthusiasts used to swear by that cars performance, built and quality. Secondary treatment and efforts to replicate the Palio GTX’s feel manufacturers developed sports and hot hatches segment in the country where the consumers would get cars with Decals, Sports styling kits, sporty colours even few extra bhp but nothing what the 1.6 Palio GTX used to do. This gave a rise to a real need of small cars who do replicate that feel, giving rise to the performance hatch segment in the country. VW came in with Polo GT and got much appreciation but that was it no other kid on the block could do anything similar. Well Fiat paid good attention to it and announced that it would bring in the Abarth to India. That was it, all major auto journos taking high octane petrol as their daily diet upped their dose. It was a worth wait for the Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione, Abarth Punto, Abarth powered Avventura and finally the Abarth powered Urban Cross. I remember Driving the Abarth 595 Competizione for the first time with my smile stretching from ear to ear. I didn’t have to say much I knew Fiat had struck all the right notes with that car and the ones to follow. For this feature we couldn’t get our hands on the Abarth powered Urban-Cross but I couldn’t even have enough of the rest three. I am left hungover, lingering for more and writing this article celebrating the Scorpion spirit in the Scorpion month. Nothing I write can replicate those experiences, it puts you in a whole different state all together, that is all I can say at large. Its intensity energy and feel gives its Cost a run for its money.

Abarth Punto- Priced at INR 9,99,000 ex-showroom Delhi

It retains the same Punto Evo shape and design but that’s about it. Look at this vehicle its dressed to scare away its completion, with a lower stance it sits lower than the conventional Punto Evo, available in two colour options only i.e. Pearl White (white with red graphics) and Hip Hop Black (black with red graphics) the graphics run all around, the side graphics have the Abarth badgings with sports lines running from front to back plus a big Scorpion on the roof. The car gets Abarth badging at the front & rear, in the wheels and on the engine cover. You won’t find Fiat badging anywhere on the car, which is enough to confuse anyone who isn’t familiar with the Punto. Few people asked me “ye kaunsi gadi hai” to which they only got “Abarth” with a big smile from me. Who would waste time to talk when you are behind its wheel? Taking about wheels the 16-inch Scorpion claw designed alloy wheels are a show stopper wherever you go and are an easy identification mark to recognise its other siblings too. Its not easy to forget even those wheels, they remain edged in your memory.

Abarth Punto is powered by Abarth tuned Fiat’s 1.4L T-Jet engine churning out 145 bhp and 212 nm of torque taking it from 0-100 kmph in 8.8 seconds. It just loves to make the horizon disappear in your rear view mirror. The car sits low at 155mm with a track tuned suspension for superior handling. It also gets disk brakes all around for superior stopping power, with ABS and EDB for additional safety and fast corning. Supporting the fast cornering experience are the 195/55 R16 tyres providing ample grips when natures G-force acts against it. Though we love the smell of burning rubber we purposely saved tread on this one.

Step inside and the Abarth styling theme continues, you find the Abarth badging on the Steering wheel and the Abarth Yellow Red on the seat stitching and the instrument cluster, also enhancing the sporty feel inside are the all black interiors and Abarth door sills and pedals.

Abarth Powered Avventura- Priced at INR 9,99,000 ex-showroom Delhi

Looks can deceive you when you look at this car, if you can recall my words above about those 16-inch amazing alloys then it might get easier for you else you would either need to look under the hood where the engine cover gets the Abarth badging or if you come across any Avventura getting away from you in a flash that is an Abarth powered Avventura my friend. Apart from the Scorpion Claw alloy wheels and small Powered by Abarth badging above side cladding, the car cosmetically remains the same outside and inside. Even mechanically it’s your usual Avventura but it’s an Abarth at heart, which is enough for us. We were quite satisfied with the usual Avventura aesthetics and mechanics and for showing off we do have the crafted Abarth Punto for that different note. Both these cars share the same platform so its not something that would bother us.

Abarth Powered Avventura carries the same 1.4L T-Jet engine churning out 140 bhp and 210 nm of torque taking it from 0-100 kmph in 9.9 seconds. Which is quite astonishing given its extra kilos and higher ground clearance compared to its Abarth Sibling. Also pump some metal before you try to open its rear mounted spare wheel.

ABARTH 595 Competizione- Priced at INR 29,85,000 ex-showroom Delhi

This is the flag bearer for all ABARTH models in India. It is undoubtedly the looking hatchback in the “Global Market” and definitely the best in India. As most of us already know its an amped up ABARTH tuned and bred version of the classic FIAT 500. Nothing gets more ‘Retro’ in this contemporary market than the FIAT 500. Italian designing with, modern day quality and amenities puts this on top of the chart.

What we have here is an FIAT ABARTH 595 Compitizione, carrying the Fiat 500 dna and cuteness. It instantly grabs the limelight no questions asked. People usually take ample time admiring its beauty rather than getting to know what it actually is. It definitely wont go in the same bracket as the 500. This car is loud with its design…..On the outside we get the Xenon headlamps, projector foglamps, body decals, ABARTH badging, huge 17-inch alloy wheels with meaty 205/40 Pirelli tyres on it, floating red coloured brake calipers, sliding sunroof and dual rear chrome tipped exhausts. Inside you get a 4 seat cabin which can sit 4 decent sized Indians comfortably, Abarth suede/fabric and leather combination Sport seats by Sabelt, Flat bottom steering wheel housing the ABARTH logo in centre and paddle shifters on sides, digital instrument cluster, buttoned AMT transmission and a turbo gauze as well.

It is also powered by the same 1.4L T-Jet engine churning out 160 bhp and 230 nm of torque taking it from 0-100 kmph in 7.4 seconds and has a company claimed top speed of 209 kmph. It is the only ABARTH to drink 95 octane fuel and in the family.

ABARTH Guide For Everyone

It is not for everyone but Fiat has actually built an ABARTH (hatchback) for everyone in this country. After having put all the ABARTH members in India through its paces in the Scorpion months this will enable you to narrow down to your targeted ABARTH:

ABARTH Punto- This one here is a global model from the Fiat’s cradle and it lives upto its name quite well. If you are someone who is flamboyant and loves the flair that comes with a vehicle given you don’t travel over really bad patches of roads. This one is for you. Also this one is more for metropolitan and track oriented usage.

Abarth Powered Avventura- Do you pump ample metal to crush a coconut with your bare hands? If no then if you buy this car you will end up using its boot by putting down its rear split seats. I have no shame in saying that I resorted to that too. There is massive torque steer because of its big turbo, it will take time and arms and elbows corrective technique to keep in under control for an aggressive launch, the torque steer carries up till the 2nd gear. If you are an Adventure buff or you travel to places where there is less road and more land or there are huge patches of broken rods in your commute or if you are looking for a bit unruly ruthless performance care with a carefree attitude, look no further this one is for you. This car will do really well in remote areas of the country too.

Abarth Powered Urban Cross- Surprise, although we didn’t get our hands on this car for this review but I have had the opportunity to get a feel of this one so why not. This car is more suitable for those with white collared jobs or corporate employees or even students looking forwards for buying a car that’s dressed in a very sober manner but has a monster waiting inside to be unleashed. This would make the perfect city, highway, office and family performance hatch with which you can have fun and not just commute. Kick the boring out and make driving fun with this fantastic Urban recipe.

ABARTH 595 Competizione- Given a price tag of INR 30 lakhs if you are considering this either you have ample money to experiment or buy toys for yourself but if you are actually spending that amount to get its worth and not just an experience then this one is for you for sure so go ahead and get one for yourself. For rest of you this car has a downside which is its AMT gearbox its not just this car but it is the AMT mechanism which is bit slow respond and when in auto mode a split second delay can also make you skip a beat. Drive it manually with the Paddle shifters and wosh there is nothing wrong with the vehicle. On the brighter side the power delivery is quite linear and consistent. The car is capable of reaching triple digits in around 7.4 seconds and it continues to climb when pushed further. The performance doesn’t taper till the end and the grip offered by its 205/40 R17 tyres offers great manoeuvrability and inspires high speed confidence. However the low profile of tyres and track tuned suspension makes you feel every possible gravel stone and different road surfaces. So if you can afford this vehicle and you are looking out then it should be in your garage in soon.

The Scorpion month is always an interesting one but having Fiat Scorpions over for the month took it to level 303.

Words and Photography Atul Bandhu