New models - Abarth - 595
Driven: Abarth reloads with refined 595 range
Increased focus on advertising to help sales of revised Abarth 595 range
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10 Nov 2017
FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia will give Abarth a bigger slice of its advertising budget, to spur sales of the newly-updated 595 hot hatch.
According to FCA Australia head of Abarth Fulvio Antonelli, the Italian brand will feature more ‘above the line’ advertising in the future, to help spur sales.
“We see significant opportunity with Abarth so you will see a greater share of our advertising budget placed on Abarth overall,” he said.
Previously, Abarth had relied on reputation and word of mouth to increase its brand awareness, and Mr Antonelli said that while advertising will increase, the company is keen to retain an air of exclusivity and rarity to the Abarth brand.
The 595 sits in Australia’s micro car segment, which has experienced a 28.1 per cent year-to-date sales slide, a rapid fall for the segment which only lost 4.8 per cent of sales ground throughout 2016.
However Mr Antonelli said he believed the trend does not have to apply to the 595, adding: “We believe Abarth is a niche product, it plays in a unique space and can defy segment trends.”
Of the two variants in the now-streamlined range, he said he expects the entry-level 595 to be the volume pick of the two.
With the deletion of the mid-spec Turismo variant from the range, the line-up now consists of the entry-level 595 and the more savage 595 Competizione, with both grades offered with a choice of manual and automatic transmissions, and hatch and convertible body styles.
Mr Antonelli said the reason for the deletion of the Turismo from the line-up was due to the overwhelming buyer preference for either the entry-level or top-spec model.
Prices have been cut by as much as $8000 on the Competizione and $500 on the 595, with a bunch of previously standard equipment consigned to the options list.
Mr Antonelli said the move to shift some items to the options list allowed for greater choice and customisation for buyers.
The range opens with the 595 from $26,990 plus on-roads with the five-speed manual, while opting for the automatic version adds $2000.
For open-air motoring enthusiasts, the Cabriolet version costs $3000 extra for the 595, and $4000 for the Competizione.
Standard equipment includes a new 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with audio streaming, integrated voice control, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB+ radio, a 7.0-inch digital instrument display and satellite navigation.
The 595 comes kitted out with 16-inch, eight-spoke alloy wheels, body colour mirrors, satin chrome finishing, matte black front dam and rear bumper insert, front selective damping, poly-elliptical front headlights, LED daytime running lights and a dual-tip chrome exhaust.
Moving up to the Competizione adds a number of go-fast goodies, including front and rear Koni shock absorbers with selective damping, four-pot front Brembo brakes with red callipers, BMC panel air filter, Garret turbocharger, Record Monza exhaust, carbon-fibre/Alcantara steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels and grey exterior trim highlights.
Optionally available on both variants is a new 440W seven-speaker audio system designed by Beats, as is a Premium pack that adds Xenon headlights and a sunroof.
Eight exterior colour choices are available, while Competizione buyers can also choose from five different mixed-colour paint jobs.
In the future, Abarth will also offer special-edition versions of the 595, including more high-performing limited-run models such as the feisty Biposto that was offered previously.
Abarth will offer limited-edition 595s through collaborations with high-end brands such as Gucci, to create luxury versions of the little hatchback.
Powering both variants is a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that outputs 107kW/206Nm in the 595, up to 132kW/250Nm in the Competizione. Power is delivered to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox, or the optional auto.
To the end of October, Fiat has sold 704 combined examples of the Abarth 595 and its Fiat 500 donor car, representing a 30.4 per cent drop compared with the 1011 it sold to the same point last year.
Since Suzuki discontinued its Celerio a few months back, the 500/595 is now the slowest seller in the micro car segment, trailing the likes of the Holden Spark (934), Mitsubishi Mirage (1268) and segment-leading Kia Picanto (2749).
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