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Fiat’s return to America has been met with limited success. Sales of the 500 mini car failed to even come close to expectations, selling just a third of expected volume or around 20,000 units last year.
In Canada, however, with the higher costs of vehicles (and gas), not to mention a more European mindset towards acceptance of smaller cars, the small 500 has done surprisingly well. In 2011 Fiat managed to move over 5,000 units. While a fourth of the US total, it’s an impressive number for a population that’s one-tenth the size.
As a result, Fiat is looking to make a bigger push into Canada in the near future. While the recently-revealed 500L is expected to be offered in both the US and Canada, the Great White North will see two additional models: the Panda MPV, as well as the Punto. Enthusiasts who are now being introduced to the Fiat 500 Abarth, are sure to appreciate the Abarth Punto which is powered by a 165 hp turbocharged 1.4-liter engine and comes outfitted with the usual long list of Abarth performance goodies from brakes, to wheels and tires, to suspension components. In it’s highest trim, the 178 hp Esseesse version is sure to make for a compelling rival against the rumors Ford Fiesta ST.
Two employees at Italian tuning house Abarth have been arrested for selling $1.3 million in stolen parts, while 23 other employees and Italian postal service workers have been summoned for questioning after an 8-month investigation.
Abarth became aware of the scam after several dealers complained that several tuning kits, used to upgrade Fiat 500 and Punto Abarth models into the hardcore Esseesse versions, had missing parts or failed to be delivered altogether. After repeated complaints by dealers, Abarth notified Italian authorities and an investigation was launched.
The two alleged culprits were said to be selling parts like ECUs, for 80 percent off via an online store set up by employees. Bucket seats, turbochargers, brake parts and even branded merchandise like clothing, were all offered for sale.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Fiat’s 900cc TwinAir 2-cylinder turbocharged engine, currently available in the European market Fiat 500, has won critical acclaim for its performance and use of advanced technology, and the motor will soon be available in both the Alfa Romeo MiTo and Fiat Punto.
The TwinAir will superceed the current base engines in both cars, rated at 77 and 64 horsepower respectively, as it produces 85 horsepower. The TwinAir will also likely be more efficient in terms of fuel consumption and carbon emissions, with estimates ranging between a 10 and 15 percent gain in both categories. A start-stop system will also be employed.
The base engines will still remain available, but the TwinAir is expected to be a popular option, as it will allow buyers to dodge European C02 emissions taxes.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Abarth, Fiat’s in-house tuner, launched two new vehicles at the 2010 Paris Auto Show, both which feature the optional “esseesse” kits that give the cars a modest power boost.
The Abarth 500C Esseesse is the most powerful version of Fiat’s 500 hatchback, and Abarth introduced a convertible version based on the 500C as a companion to the fixed roof model. Specs remain the same, with 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque from its 1.4L turbo engine. 0-60 time is 7.6 seconds, with a top speed of 129 mph.
The larger Punto Evo esseessse gets 180 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque, but most move a bit more metal, giving it nearly identical performance figures. The Punto hits 60 in 7.5 seconds and tops out at 134 mph.
The esseesse kits feature some neat enhancements, beyond the tuned air filter and muffler systems. Seatbelts are now made by renowned racing equipment manufacturer Sabelt, and the GPS system has a built in telemetry system by Magnetti Marelli, the same company that makes data loggers and electronic equipment for Ferrari.
Gallery: Abarth Punto Evo
Gallery: Abarth 500C