01 Apr 2011
Abarth Turns Professional
Following the successful launch of the Abarth car range, Fiat's tuning division has now turned its attention to the Fiat Professional range. The first Fiat van to be given the Abarth treatment is the Ducato Maxi, one of the largest vans in the range. According to Uri Netaker, Product Manager for the Abarth Professional range, "We wanted to make a splash with the launch of the Abarth Professional range and we figured that the Ducato Maxi would make the biggest splash of all."
As with the car range, just about every aspect of the Abarth Ducato Maxi has been examined and refined with performance in mind, but Abarth was also mindful that despite being the halo vehicle for many commercial fleets, it must still retain the practicality and versatility expected of a Fiat Professional van. Therefore, exterior body modifications have been limited to a set of 20-inch, Anthracite Abarth wheels, Abarth striping, red mirror inserts, special HID headlamps and a rear roof spoiler.
Inside there's a Sabelt driver's seat, an Abarth steering wheel, an Abarth gearknob and aluminium pedals, while load compartment also has a specially recessed floor to prevent loads moving about during high-performance manoeuvres. Options include Fast-Lane Assist, which warns the driver if they try to move the van from the overtaking lane, and Radar-Controlled Cruise Control which has been re-calibrated to maintain a safe distance of 8cm from the car in front. A new "Red Light Assist" system is also available, which automatically applies maximum acceleration if it senses an unfavourable change of traffic lights is about to occur, while the new ‘Blind Spot Enhancement" system operates by making the side windows of the Abarth Ducato Maxi completely opaque, thereby making it easier for drivers to completely tune out their surroundings.
Naturally, performance has also been tweaked. The Abarth Ducato Maxi uses a revised version of Fiat Professional's 2.3-litre turbo-diesel engine, which now produces 220hp and more than 400Nm of torque. The suspension has also been uprated to cope with the added performance and grip and while the payload is reduced slightly from the standard 1,485kg Abarth is confident that most operators will appreciate its ability to offer swifter deliveries. The brakes have not been changed as they're unlikely to be used much anyway.
The Abarth Ducato Maxi goes on sale across Europe shortly and will soon be followed by the Abarth Scudo, Abarth Doblo and Abarth Fiorino, creating a full Abarth Professional line-up.