Abarth. This is the company that is to Fiat what AMG is to Mercedes. It’s an in-house tuning company that soups up sensible Fiats so that they’re fast and naughty.

You may have seen the Abarth 595 and 695 (hot versions of the Fiat 500) around in the UAE, but traditionally they’ve only been available on the grey market. Now, though, National Auto, the official distributor of Fiat, has announced that it will distribute Abarth cars, too.

This is good news indeed.

A launch event was held last week at the showroom in Dubai. And from the off you can choose between three different Abarth models.

You can have the 595 Competizione, a hardcore Fiat 500 that’s loaded with a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine developing 180bhp. That’s a lot in a car as small as the 500, meaning it’ll do the 0-100 km/h dash in 6.9 seconds.

You also get an oversized Brembo braking system with four-piston aluminium fixed calipers to bring it to a stop in total safety, and a high-performance Record Monza exhaust with dual mode system. Gearbox-wise, you’re looking at a robotised sequential gearbox with shift paddles. Abarth engineers also worked on the rear bumper, creating a more pronounced and effective diffuser.

 

Naturally, leather seats come as standard and are available in red, tan or black. You can also spec sporty Corsa by Sabelt seats if you want to get a little more racy. And there’s a brand-new sports instrument panel and new graphics.

Basically, the 595 Competizione is a pretty serious little racer.

Or, if you want a little more luxury, you can opt for the Abarth 695 Rivale. Mechanically, this is pretty much the same as the 595, but it’s the result of a partnership between Abarth and luxury yacht builder Riva. This means you get seriously luxurious interior finishes.

Inside the 695 Rivale are carbon fibre sills, dark blue leather seats and door panels, black mats with blue inserts and dashboard in carbon fibre or mahogany, an optional variant that gives the car an even more nautical touch. The mahogany variant embraces the Riva philosophy even more profoundly: a well as the dashboard fascia, it includes a special blue and black leather steering wheel and blue leather instrument panel cladding.

It also comes with an Akrapović exhaust with carbon tips, Brembo brakes with black 4-piston fixed calipers at the front, 17-inch Supersport alloy wheels with special gloss grey finish, and Abarth by Koni suspension system with FSD (Frequency-Selective Damping), which should make the 695 more of a refined cruiser than the 595, which rides as sportily as you’d imagine.

 

But the Abarth we’re really excited about getting our hands on is the 124 Spider. This is the hardcore version of the pretty Fiat 124 Spider. Under the bonnet you get a 1.4-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder that develops 170 bhp and 250 Nm of torque. In isolation, those numbers aren’t that impressive, but then you realise that the Abarth 124 Spider weighs just 1,129 kg, meaning it’ll do 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 229 km/h – more than plenty in an open-top roadster.

The engine is paired with a six-speed Essesse Sports sequential automatic gearbox, and you get a Record Monza exhaust with a dual mode system that’ll give you noise and power exactly when you need it.

Standard equipment includes a sophisticated audio set up featuring the latest Uconnect infotainment system with satellite navigation and a seven-inch touchscreen. The 124 Spider is also equipped with the Sound Plus Pack, which includes a sophisticated Bose audio system with subwoofer and eight speakers, two of which integrated in the head restraints, so you’ll be able to enjoy your tunes with roof down.

Prices haven’t been officially announced, but we understand that the 124 Spider will start at AED 139,999. Expect the 595 Competizione to come in at a little less than that.