Abarth, famous for motorsport and tuning, has been owned by Fiat since 1971.
It was launched in Italy as a brand in its own right in September with a flagship centre in Turin and the introduction of the Grande Punto Abarth.
Fiat wants 100 Abarth sales outlets across Europe, although no more than 10 are earmarked for the UK.
It is thought they will be situated in some of the larger UK cities, separate from existing Fiat facilities, although they may be based at the same sites.
First product to launch in the UK will be the Grande Punto Abarth in summer 2008, which is expected to retail at about £13,000-£13,500.
An aftermarket ‘esseesse’ or ‘super sport’ upgrade, with engine and chassis modifications will also be available when ordering or when cars are up to a year old with no more than 12,000 miles on the clock.
The upgrade, understood to cost between £3,500 and £4,000, can only be carried out at specialist Abarth outlets.
However, some of Fiat’s existing dealer network are likely to be approved for servicing work on Abarth products, and there will be marketing and merchandising to help secure the profitability of the brand.
Fiat expects to sell 5,000 Abarths in Europe next year, 2,000 of which will include the ‘esseesse’ upgrade.
A Fiat spokesman said: “We’re still discussing arrangements for Abarth outlets in the UK and they haven’t been finalised yet, although we’re expecting to see the Grande Punto Abarth in the UK in the middle of 2008.”
An Abarth version of the new Fiat 500 will follow the Grande Punto. When complete, the full line-up is expected to include four Abarth models.
Fiat’s Abarth models will have their own dealers.