Fiat Auto’s first Torinese performance model in South Africa since the fiery Uno Turbo is the Stilo Abarth 2,4 20-valve which boosts the sporty profile of Fiat’s largely under-rated subcompact.Fiat Auto’s first Torinese performance model in South Africa since the fiery Uno Turbo is the Stilo Abarth 2,4 20-valve which boosts the sporty profile of Fiat’s largely under-rated subcompact.

Apart from bigger, eye-catching five-spoke alloys and colour-coded bumpers, mirrors, bump strips and door handles, the Stilo Abarth 2,4 20v looks almost identical to the Stilo 1,6 Active. Some observers would prefer that the handsome lines of the Stilo remain untouched apart from the discreet red-and-yellow Abarth scorpion insignia on the tailgate, but hot hatch aficionados may have expected beefier front and rear spoilers, for example.

Fiat’s sporty subcompact is powered by a twin overhead-cam 2 446 cm3 five-cylinder powerplant, with a four valves per cylinder layout and variable inlet manifold controlled by an electronic management system.

The engine produces 125 kW at 6 000 r/min and maximum torque of 221 N.m at 3 500 r/min. It is claimed the Abarth will return a combined consumption figure of 9,7 litres per 100km.

The Abarth’s suspension consists of McPherson struts at the front with newly-designed coil springs and lower wishbones. At the rear is a semi-independent torsion beam axle that Fiat says “offers compact packaging and standard comfort and handling once obtainable only with very sophisticated suspension systems”.

The car’s stopping power comes courtesy of ventilated discs at the front and solid discs at the rear. The BOSCH 5.7 system includes four active sensors, four channels and electronic brakeforce distribution. Brake Assist and an electronic stability program (ESP) are also offered as standard specification.

In addition to ESP, the Stilo Abarth is also fitted with a automatic traction control device ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) to restrict drive wheel slip under reduced road grip conditions. ASR, which can be deactivated by a switch on the dashboard, prevents the drive wheels from slipping by adjusting torque according to the grip coefficient detected at the time of slip and MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) cuts in when the gear is shifted down abruptly under conditions of low grip. The device restores torque to the engine to prevent the wheel skidding as a result of lock, Fiat Auto says.

In terms of active safety devices, the Abarth has dual front, side and window airbags. The Stilo range is also fitted with three rear three-point seat belts, ISOFIX attachments and an obstruction sensor for the electric front windows.

A Fiat CODE II immobiliser changes the access code each time the Stilo Abarth is started. Selective central locking by remote is standard and the doors lock automatically at speeds above 20km/h. If the doors are not opened within 30 seconds of being unlocked by remote, they will lock again automatically.

The Abarth carries over the MY CAR configuration option and all operations can be carried out via the panel to the left of the steering wheel and a button on top of the right steering wheel stalk.

Front cup holders, refrigerated glove compartment, front arm rest with oddments compartment, follow-me-home headlights, drivers seat lumbar adjustment electric power steering with the city function, radio with CD front loader and radio controls on the steering wheel as well as cruise control are standard. Park distance control, leather interior and Easy Go keyless entry systems are optional extras.

As with other Stilo models, Fiat Auto SA offers the Abarth with a 36-month/100 000km dealer warranty (including three years on paintwork and five years on anti-perforation) and 24-hour AA Fleetcare roadside assistance for 12 months.