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Fiat Stilo Abarth and Fiat Abarth 600

Broadcast dates : 16th January 2005
20th January 2005

The tiny Abarth badge on the rear hatch-lid of the Fiat Stilo speaks volumes to enthusiasts who have a passion for motorsport from the 1980s way back to the 1960s. Carlo Abarth used the Scorpion motif as it was also the symbol of his birth sign.

To thousands of competitors who had the misfortune to take on his tiny Fiat six-hundred-based creations, it also meant being stung rather painfully.
Bruce Meyers’ Fiat Abarth started life as a little six-hundred cc car that was a common sight on our roads in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Despite being tiny, it can carry five people in relative comfort and is a masterpiece of ergonomic design.

The Abarth bits and pieces take it into a different dimension and these include a raised engine lid to promote cooling, a special engine measuring nine-hundred-and-fifty cc with wild camshaft, competition exhaust and a massive snorting Weber carburetor.

Bruce has restored the car to his own road-race specifications. Purists take him to task on the subject, but his reply is that he has stuck to the original essence of the Abarth.

The wheels too are Cromodora look-alikes rather than Campagnola originals, but the overall effect is unmistakably Abarth. 

With the mechanicals sorted out, Bruce turned his attention to the interior.

The modern Abarth is a different kettle of fish entirely.

Fiat takes pride in pointing out that this is the first five-cylinder car in the large-hatch segment.

The mix is somewhat strange, simply because it’s so different from what one would expect from anything with an Abarth badge. This Stilo Abarth is all about effortless torque, long, lazy gear ratios, low noise levels and surging rather than ripping performance.
Yet the engine does rev very smoothly to the redline in typical Fiat fashion.

It’s kind of re-assuring in terms of potential longevity of the engine and it makes the car extremely pleasant to drive in any conditions.

The numbers are a hundred-and-twenty-five kilowatts at six-thousand revs, and two-hundred-and-twenty-one Newton metres of torque at three-thousand-five-hundred rpm.

Performance claims, too, are fairly modest for a car that looks this good. A mid-eight second zero-to-one-hundred and a two-hundred-and-fifteen kilometres-per-hour top speed are not about to start any bar-room arguments in the fast and furious department.

The exterior looks are very pleasing, with a stubby nose, very crisp side profile and imaginative interplay between styling accents and tail lights at the rear.

And typically Italian, the wheel design is a masterpiece combining good taste with flair.

The interior is rather ordinary with some of the plastics used exhibiting a rather low quality look.

But the seats are pleasing in terms of their cloth upholstery texture and lift the look of the interior to the sporty level.

Overall the Fiat Stilo Abarth is a very satisfying car to drive, with suspension firm rather than stiff. It does have traction control and ABS, but not corner stability controls.

At just three-hundred Rand short of the two-hundred-thousand-Rand mark, it offers a lot of car for the money, despite the fact it only has three doors.

Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the market for a hot hatch.

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