Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Abarth at the 79th Geneva International Motorshow

Abarth Grande Punto EssesseImage via Wikipedia

A few months ago, Abarth announced its return to the racetrack, a moment that the Scorpion’s fans had long awaited: a full 43 years since Carlo Abarth drove his last record-breaker to victory. And now that there are only a few days to go until the first heat of the 500 Abarth Trophy, it’s clear that the new company has kept its promise to “democratize” racing, with a car born for speed, bred for endurance, and measurably more affordable than tailgating assorted Schumis and Kimis.
A concrete commitment, then, that confirms the Scorpion badge’s racing spirit and the philosophy that’s driven Abarth for half a century: transferring racing experience to the market and making the heady world of competition accessible to a larger public. And this is the approach that’s made it possible to launch two cars – the Abarth Grande Punto and the Abarth 500 – plus a pair of conversion kits in less than two years. It’s the same spirit that’s gone into creating an exclusive sales network, staffed by experts that can provide the most demanding customers with the accurate, comprehensive information they need. And it’s the same approach behind Abarth’s solid motorsports renown and partnerships with some of the greatest names around.
And if there were any doubt that this approach has put Abarth on the right track – in more ways than one – well, the numbers say it all: over 900 cars and more than 700 conversion kits sold in 2008, along with 15 new partnership agreements. This amazing success shows no signs of flagging in the early months of 2009, despite market conditions that are not exactly the most encouraging in recorded memory. This year, the brand’s focus on racing – ever the Scorpion’s most important asset – is even sharper, as witnessed by the new Abarth Racing prep shops, whose exclusive service is the gateway to competing under the Abarth name.
If the newborn Abarth Racing initiative is the latest strand added to the Abarth network, no less important is the unstoppable spread of dealerships and official preparation shops that improves coverage in areas where the brand is already well-known, and also continues its penetration into strategic markets like Great Britain, Spain and Japan. The Abarth distribution network is truly one of a kind: today, in Europe, it can boast 120 showrooms, 132 official preparation shops and 220 service centers.
Inspired as always by the world of racing, the original stand at the Geneva Motor Show showcases all the winners – standard production cars, conversion kits and competition vehicles – that have propelled the brand’s market success in Italy and elsewhere. The prime attractions in the display area are obviously the Abarth 500 “esseesse” and the Abarth 500 Assetto Corse, “speeding” along a track surfaced with a special resin that calls to mind all the fascination of the racing circuit, favorite haunt of Abarths of all epochs. And the track breaks into the stand, making the wall around it literally explode into a million pieces. Right behind the two cars, an LED screen shows an autodrome, nearside scenery all a blur as the Abarths, tires screaming, streak by: the adrenalin-charged world of throbbing engines and galloping pulses. And so it should be, since the racetrack has always been the wellspring whence the brand draws the technologies and values that it transfers to its road-going cars and conversion kits.
The same philosophy led to the third car on show in Geneva: a special Abarth Grande Punto “SuperSport”. Special, because of its Airfield Gray paintwork – the same color sported by the Scorpion’s historic racecars, and, as the story has it, taken from the planes based next to the brand’s original headquarters – enlivened by a racing-inspired livery. But special is not just a question of looks: the “esseesse” conversion kit boosts power to 180 HP at 5750 rpm, with a wrenching 270 Nm peak torque that kicks in at speeds as low as 3000 revs. In addition, an original variable backpressure dual-mode exhaust system enhances engine sound, producing a distinctive throaty roar over 4000 rpm. On the inside, the unit features Sabelt Abarth Racing leather-upholstered seats – lightweight and track-approved, as befits the car’s sporting spirit – and the Abarth Blue&MeTM MAP satellite navigator with telemetry capabilities developed with Magneti Marelli.
Alongside the race-ready Abarth Grande Punto, images stream past that celebrate its performance: performance that’s put the model at the forefront of the rally circuit, thanks to the Abarth Team which will be contesting the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and Italian Rally Championship titles this year with four official crews.
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