Fiat Automóveis have released the first images of the range topping Punto Turbo which will arrive on the Brazilian market later this year and which is set to feature the Punto Abarth's 155 bhp T-Jet engine and bring a distictly sporty appeal to the B-segment hatchback model range.

The new Punto version however is unlikely to sold domestically under the Abarth name, the mostly likely tag for the car will be Punto Turbo, following on from the cachet of the Uno Turbo which was sold in Brazil in the 1990s. The new Punto was launched in Brazil in August last year; built at the huge Betim plant in the Minas Gerais region, it is powered by a choice of 1.4- and 1.8-litre 8v Flex (dual fuel) engines and is being assembled at a rate of around 4,000 unit per month, the factory's current capacity for this model which has a waiting list.

The performance version will be available only in 5-door format and will use the 155 bhp version of the T-Jet which went on sale late last year in the Grande Punto Abarth model. Mechanical improvements include lowering and stiffening the suspension, as well as improved braking.

Specific front and rear spoilers, new sideskirts and a tailgate lip spoiler have been designed for the local market while it will also be offered with the 17-in 'scorpion' alloy wheels from the Brazilian market Stilo Abarth. Inside the interior has been upgraded and new details include a revised visual pattern for the dashboard gauges.

The Punto Turbo will offer all the local market leading features now associated with the Brazilian-built Punto range, including the optional extra Fiat and Microsoft developed Blue&Me infotelematic system. Other features (standard on the Punto) include darkened side and rear windows, Fiat Code (anti-theft device), leather steering wheel and gearknob, electric one-touch front and rear windows, follow-me-home device, central locking, third rear seat with seatbelt, adjustable front seats and headrests, climate control, cruise control, ABS, front airbags (with Smart dual stage system), FPS (Fire Prevention System), alarm, front seats with load pretensioners, CD player plus MP3 and steering wheel mounted radio controls.

Current optional extra equipment for the Punto range includes the large glass 'Skydome' roof, curtain, side and knee airbags, parking sensor, rain sensor and dual zone climate control, some of which may become standard on the new Punto Turbo.

Fiat Automóveis hasn't announced when the Punto Turbo will be launched or any local market pricing, although it will take its place on the Brazilian new car market during 2008, and will also be launched onto the Argentinean market at the same time. The T-Jet turbo engine is also to be available on the Fiat Linea saloon when it arrives on the Brazilian market shortly.

by Claudio Perlini

© 2008 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed