The return of the Scorpion
A great project will be launched at this year’s Johannesburg International Motor Show: the rebirth of one of the most prestigious brands in world motorsports. Its symbol is a scorpion, and its name is Abarth.
Abarth has always been synonymous with assertive cars, competitiveness, passion and excitement, and it returns to South Africa early in 2012 with a new range that will appeal to all lovers of motorsports.
Small but deadly
Abarth’s first interpretation of the 500 will be on the ‘runway’ at JIMS, the first step in an initiative which will later involve other models. The new 500 Abarth was developed by the Abarth engineers in the spirit of the legendary 500 Abarth cars of yore. It is a heady mix of technology, performance and safety that finds its roots in the experience and passion of the world of racing, while remaining faithful to the saying coined for Abarths of the ‘60s – “small but deadly”.
The style of the 500 Abarth chimes perfectly with the Scorpion tradition and is no mere window-dressing but significantly contributes to the car’s performance. The best example of this approach to styling lies in the particular attention devoted to the aerodynamics and function of certain elements. For example, the rear view of the 500 Abarth is typified by the presence of a special bumper, aerodynamic extractor, twin exhaust terminal and tailgate spoiler that give it a sporting look but also excellent aerodynamic performance. A scorpion logo is printed above the silencer, just as on the historical Abarth exhausts.
The front end makes a specific statement that the 500 Abarth is an out-and-out GT: the three-part pattern formed by the air intakes comprises a central intake that is larger than on the normal 500, and an upper slot (above the number plates) that is also wider. The two symmetrical ‘nostrils’ on either side of the bumpers correspond exactly to the position of two corresponding intercoolers that can be seen through the openings and are there to ensure air is able to flow in and out. 16” alloys round off the exterior racing attire with 17” specimens available as an option.
The full-blown racing interiors on the 500 Abarth feature unique Abarth instrumentation and an analogue pressure gauge used to measure the turbo pressure. The pressure gauge contains a ‘GSI’ (Gear Shift Indicator) that turns on an LED to encourage the driver to shift gear. The main gauge, with sporting graphics, is lipped on top to offer further protection against glare while the three-spoke steering wheel incorporates moulded grips for the thumbs and is levelled off at the base to ensure increased passenger room and space for adjustment.
The aluminium pedals with rubber inserts also reveal a clear racing vocation, as does the gear knob (leather trimmed with a more ergonomic grip for sporty use) and handbrake lever grip (also in leather).
The seats with head restraints built into the back rest also reveal a special Abarth design with a wraparound configuration in order to hold the body tightly in position, even when cornering. They can be trimmed in leather, in two black or red specifications, or in two types of cloth.
But, it’s under the bonnet where it really counts and the new 500 Abarth possesses all the dynamic performance of a car destined for the track. The credit goes mainly to the exuberant engine concealed beneath the bonnet: a Fire 1.4 16v petrol Turbo engine that delivers a maximum power of 135 bhp (99 Kw) at 5500 rpm and a maximum torque of 206 Nm at 3000 rpm in ‘Sport’ mode (in ‘Normal’ mode, the torque remains 180 Nm at 2500 rpm). A power unit that ensures a thrilling performance while also making the 500 Abarth extremely satisfying to drive even during day-to-day use.
Top speed is 205 km/h while acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes place in just 7.9 seconds. This is partly achieved by the overboost function, activated by the ‘Sport’ button that modulates control unit mapping and turbo pressure in addition to load on the steering wheel. Yet all this typically Abarth sportiness comes with very frugal fuel consumption: 5.4 l/100 km over a combined cycle.
Abarth 695 “Tributo Ferrari”
Stallion and Scorpion team up
Without a doubt one of the most memorable cars at this year’s Johannesburg International Motor Show is the Abarth 695 “Tributo Ferrari”. This new performance version of the Abarth 500 confirms the link between Abarth and Ferrari based on shared values that include a passion for performance, a racing soul, attention to detail and Italian style.
Abarth and Ferrari are two great names that have contributed, with conviction and dedication, to the legend of Italian racing that is known around the world. The legendary men behind both marques followed very similar careers: first drivers, then tuners and finally heads of companies that command genuine respect in the world of motor racing. These extraordinary men were associated in the past: in 1953, for example, a unique Ferrari-Abarth was born, the Ferrari 166/250 MM Abarth. The car raced in various international trophies including the legendary Mille Miglia. The tie between the two companies has been reinforced above all by the exhaust systems designed by Abarth specifically for the cars built at Maranello: numerous exhaust systems have been made for various Ferrari models, some of which have won World Championship titles.
The two brands have recently renewed their collaboration. The first result of this was the supply of a limited and numbered series of Abarth 500’s to Ferrari’s European dealers in recent months for use as “courtesy cars”. Now, attention turns to the new Abarth 695 “Tributo Ferrari”, an exclusive vehicle that not only enables Abarth to extend its range by entering into the luxury sports car market, but also offers Ferrari customers a small but exciting small car for all their mobility needs, including practical urban mobility.
The new Abarth 695 “Tributo Ferrari” is distinguished by a number of stylistic changes, but more importantly by substantial mechanical modifications developed by Abarth and Ferrari engineers. The engine, for a start, is a 1.4 Turbo T-Jet 16v, tuned to develop over 180 HP / 132 kW. This is combined with an MTA (Manual Transmission Automated) electromechanical gearbox with race-inspired paddle gearshift that makes full use of the engine’s performance by reducing gearshift times. The Abarth 695 “Tributo Ferrari” clocks a 0-100km/h acceleration time of under 7 seconds and will reach a top speed of 225 km/h.
To improve acceleration, the car is fitted with performance tyres on 17’’ alloy wheels featuring a design inspired by Ferrari wheels. The suspension and braking systems have also been strengthened to cope with the extra power: 284 mm multi-section discs with fixed four-piston calipers, both by Brembo, and special shock absorbers let you enjoy performance in total safety.
And of course there is a “Record Monza” variable back-pressure “dual mode” exhaust, designed to improve engine performance and deliver an inspiring sound over 3,000 rpm.
On the outside, the car is finished in some exciting Ferrari colours including Scuderia Red, with carbon fibre door mirrors and with details like the wheels and rear air intakes in Racing Grey. This new Abarth is equipped with Xenon headlights with dipped and main beam functions for improved light emission and excellent efficiency under all weather conditions.
The interiors are also personalised and demonstrate the attention to detail and the sporting style that are common to both brands. “Abarth Corsa by Sabelt” seats are fitted and finished in black leather with a shell and seat base in carbon fibre. These seats offer a perfect blend of racing characteristics – light weight (10 kg less than the standard seat) and the ability hold the body steady against lateral and longitudinal forces, thanks to body support elements filled with crush-resistant foam – with the ergonomics and comfort of road seats.
The black leather steering wheel is punctuated by coloured leather inserts (to match the exterior) and a tricolour hub on which the MTA gearshift paddles are mounted, while the instrument panel is specially made by Jaeger, and inspired by typical Ferrari instrumentation. Attention to detail has gone into the floor too: the foot wells are covered entirely in non-slip aluminium and the racing pedals are personalised with the Scorpion logo. The interior is embellished with other details too, like special kick plates and a plate bearing the vehicle series number. Only a limited number of these rare cars will be made available to a fortunate few in South Africa.
“esseesse” kit for the Abarth 500 and Abarth 500C
Kitted out to the max
Certainly not that you need it, but for those who demand a little something extra from their Abarth 500 or 500C, the master tuners at Abarth have come up with a ‘go-faster’ kit that promises to deliver in no uncertain terms. Called the “esseesse” kit (pronounced ‘SS’), the mods give the cars an injection of power, significantly improving performance and acceleration yet without affecting the CO2 levels.
The kit tunes the 1.4 16v Turbo T-Jet power unit to achieve a maximum power of 160 HP (117 kW) at 5750 rpm and in “Sport” mode, a maximum torque of 230 Nm at 3000 rpm with the performance of an out-and-out sports car: top speed is 209 km/h with acceleration from 0-100 km/h in just 7.6 seconds.
Safety is always the focus with an Abarth tuning, as evidenced by the upgrading of the braking system and adjusted ride: the “esseesse” kit for the 500C fits perforated, ventilated front disc brakes (diameter 284 mm x 22 mm), perforated rear disc brakes (diameter 240 mm x 11 mm), high-performance front brake pads, front and rear Koni shock absorbers with FSD valve, specific red springs set lower than those on the original car, Abarth “esseesse” 7” x 17” ET35 alloy wheels painted white or titanium, combined with 205/40 ZR17 tyres.
The conversion kit also includes four sensors to record correct tyre pressure, a special “powered by BMC” air cleaner and “esseesse” badges for the engine cover and tailgate.
As is traditional with Abarth, for the “esseesse” kit is delivered to customers in a unique wooden case and is fitted exclusively by official Abarth tuning centres to ensure the highest standards of monitoring and safety.