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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia has confirmed that a new Fiat 500-based Abarth model will launch locally mid-year, providing a new, more affordable, entry point into the scorpion-stamped brand.

Due to be officially announced in the coming weeks, the new performance-focused Fiat 500 variant will undercut the current $34,000 Abarth entry point – but by just how much remains unknown.

Teaming a 118kW/230Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder with a five-speed manual transmission, the Abarth 595 Turismo (pictured top left and below) claims 0-100km/h in 7.4 seconds.

Intended to ‘close the loop’ between the new flagship Series IV Fiat 500 and the existing entry-level Abarth 595, the new shield-fronted model will have to offer more performance than the 74kW/131Nm 500 Lounge but for not vast amounts more than that model’s revised $21,000 list price.

Abarth 595 Turismo

Speaking to CarAdvice at the local launch of the updated Fiat 500 range, FCA Australia director of product and marketing Zac Loo said that while regular 500 buyers may know of Abarth, and Abarth purists consciously seek out Abarth product, the new entry-level Abarth model should open the marque to a wider set of customers.

“What we were finding was that there was a real desire from Fiat customers to interact with Abarth, and the 500 S [a model dropped as part of the revised 2016 line-up] kind of played into that – it was Abarth-derived and designed, but it didn’t deliver on the full Abarth experience,” Loo said.

“And what we have heard is that they want Abarth but for some it was too far of a stretch. So obviously, we’re going to keep the highest form [of Abarth], but we’re also going to look for something to tie that gap closer between the two vehicles.

“Really it’s about taking [the Abarth brand] from just purists, to everyday customers.”

Fiat 500 S - 2014

Using the same 74kW/131Nm 1.4-litre four-pot now employed to turn the 500 Lounge’s front wheels, the freshly-axed Series III 500 S (pictured above) was priced from $19,000. It also claimed a 10.5-second 0-100km/h time and came standard with a flat-bottom leather steering wheel, sports seats, 15-inch alloy wheels and a sports body kit.

Regardless of what final recipe is used to create this forthcoming entry-level Abarth, it will no doubt be a step up from the 500 S in terms of both performance and price.

Pricing for the new model is some ways off being confirmed, but if the 500 S is to be taken as a starting point, a number in the range of $30,000 could be on the cards.

FCA Australia corporate communications director Lucy McLellan said the new Abarth should reach our shores “by mid year”, with details expected to be announced within the next six to eight weeks.

MORE: 2016 Fiat 500 pricing and specifications
MORE: Fiat 500 news, reviews, pricing and specs




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