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Abarth promised its independence

Badge-engineering mistakes of the past will not be repeated when a revitalised Italian sports car brand takes to the road again in Britain from the end of this month.

“The core values of Abarth will be respected – what we’re dealing with is something very special.

This brand is now a fully-fledged entity in its own right, developed and engineered from the ground up as a dedicated product,” said Abarth UK head Ivan Gibson.

Speaking as the first 10 UK outlets prepared to go live, Gibson told AM that global Abarth chief executive Luca De Meo had made it clear he was committed to enhancing the standing of the brand.

“We are well aware of the way we have treated Abarth in the past, when it became nothing more than just a badge on the back of a Fiat.

That situation bears no relation to the way things are now – Abarth may well be a Fiat subsidiary, but it has its own headquarters, its own people and operates as an independent unit.

“We are all ready to go with a high standard of service. All the first dealers have completed the induction programme and been to Italy for training,” he said.

Initially, the British network gets under way with the launch of the Grande Punto Abarth.

Additional dealers are signing up and will be going through the induction process in the coming months.

“By the time we introduce the 500 Abarth model early next year, we will have approaching 20 outlets,” said Gibson.

“Some of our dealers have space within existing facilities – others are going for new build.

Either way, they are providing dedicated Abarth showrooms and separate branded workshop bays and parts operations.

This is not a front-of-house exercise – it washes straight through the dealerships.

“This is an exciting time and Abarth enthusiasts are flagging up their interest in the new cars. We have few rivals in terms of heritage.”

Currently, nine dealers make up the Abarth network – Arnold Clark, Glasgow; Vospers, Plymouth; SG Petch, Huntingdon, York; Research, Nuneaton; Auto-world, Chesterfield; Platts, Stoke-on-Trent; Lipscomb, Aylesford, Kent; Glyn Hopkin, Romford; and Westover, Poole.

Rockingham Cars, Corby, goes live on August 1.

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