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Cheaper Abarth incoming

Spice up your life: A more accessible Abarth will go on sale later this year to increase brand exposure and draw more customers to the sporty Italian brand.

FCA Australia confirms new powertrain and lower entry point for spicy Abarth range

19 Feb 2016

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia will introduce a cheaper Abarth into its hot micro-hatch range, opening the sports brand to new customers and positioning itself closer to its Fiat 500-based roots.

Speaking at the recent launch of Fiat’s refreshed 500, Fiat Australia product manager Aitezaz Khan said the Italian marque “will make the Abarth range more accessible than ever before”.

Currently, the Abarth range opens at $34,000, before on-road costs, for the 595 Turismo hatchback, meaning a cheaper version could dip below $30,000 and pull attention away from the likes of the larger, but similarly priced Volkswagen Polo GTI ($27,490), Renault Clio RS ($30,000), Peugeot 208 GTI ($30,990) and Ford Fiesta ST ($25,990).

While no powertrain options have been confirmed, Mr Khan told GoAuto that international Abarth offerings hold clues about what engine will power the new car.

“Look at what we have in the international portfolio, that’s what we leverage,” he said. “That’s what we’ll fit in and try to maintain the best possible value equation.”

The Australian 595 Abarth range is powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit, producing 118kW of power and 230Nm of torque, which represents the mid-tier engine in overseas markets.

A cheaper, 99kW tune of the 1.4-litre engine is available in European markets which could slot into an entry level Abarth, making it just 25kW more powerful than the current range-topping Fiat 500 Lounge.

A more potent 132kW Abarth is also available overseas which Fiat could bring to Australia to expand its range even further.

FCA Australia director of marketing and product strategy Zac Loo said the realignment of the Abarth range is a calculated move to bring it closer to the Fiat 500 offerings for increased exposure.

“Obviously we see the Abarth range as an extension (of the Fiat 500 range) and it was about making sure that connection is a little bit closer,” he said.

“We’re kind of looking at how we strengthen the tie between the two because there are Abarth fanatics, and they love the brand, they know it, and there are those that, when they find the Fiat brand, discover and find more, and Abarth is something they are really passionate about.

“What we were finding was the range was sitting a little too far apart, so that is kind of where we’re heading in the future, finding an opportunity to strengthen the tie between the two and build the Fiat Abarth awareness and the link between the two.”

Now that Fiat has introduced its refreshed 500 range, the new Abarth should touch down about mid-year ahead of the introduction of the Mazda MX-5-based Fiat 124 Spider, which will be powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged MultiAir four-cylinder engine rumoured to have various states of tune and up to 164kW of power.

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