Abarth 695 Biposto

Wild and exclusive race-bred pocket rocket

TOBY HAGON

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

WHEN it comes to exclusivity, you can forget the latest two-door Bentley or Lamborghinis.

The Abarth 695 Biposto out-exclusives the lot.

About 10 are destined for Australia, each with a price tag ranging from $65,000 to as much as $100,000, depending on which options you’ve decided to tack on to the fastest and most hyper Fiat 500 ever built.

Like the Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari, the Biposto gets a feisty 1.4-litre turbo, but there’s a whisker more power than that former 500 range-topper, for a grand total of 140kW. Hardly explosive outputs, then. But it’s the work done on light-weighting the tiny three-door that has helped shave its 0-100km/h sprint by the best part of a second, to an impressive 5.9sec.

Gone are the xenon headlights and fog lights. The radio, too, has been left on the shelf. And the rear seats are missing, too, inspiring the car’s Biposto (Italian for “twoseater”) name. Fiat claims a dry weight of just 997kg, slotting neatly below the tonne, though the kerb weight will sound far less sexy, stretching into four figures.

Our taste test was just that – short and sweet. It involved a lap of the Balocco proving ground near Fiat’s home base in Turin in northern Italy. We’re talking just a handful of kilometres here, every one of which we covered at maximum attack.

Accelerating out of pit lane, the throaty Akrapovic exhaust (complete with titanium pipes) sends a beefy growl through the Biposto’s sparse cabin. Lift off and it burbles and cracks deliciously on the overrun.

Performance is punchy. The familiar four-pot is loaded with meaty mid-range, enough to get the Pirellis fighting for traction out of tight corners. Row it through the gears and the speedo soon sails past 200km/h, at which point aerodynamics are having their say and slowing forward progress.

Sizeable Brembo brakes (for a little car) bite hard and can have the tail feeling light with a desperate lunge into a tightening right-hander. The electronics chime in to keep things vaguely pointing straight and the little two-seater scrabbles around.

One thing that hasn’t been improved, though, is the seating position. You’re perched up high and feel every rock-and-roll as the Fiat darts – athletically – from one corner to the next. It’s not the only thing wrong, especially once you glance at the price tag.

Ultimately, there are slicker ways to go faster for the same money, but you may not turn as many heads, or have quite as much fun doing it.

Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Kerb weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Abarth 695 Biposto 1368cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo 140kW @ 5500rpm 250Nm @ 3000rpm 6-speed manual 997kg (dry) 5.9sec (claimed) 6.5L/100km $65,000-plus Now (special order)

PLUS & MINUS

Price, price and price; oh, and it’s fairly impractical Chunky, funky design; rorty exhaust; optional dog-ring transmission

Toy story

THE Abarth 695 Biposto is clearly for people with plenty of spare cash for another toy.

By the time you throw in the dog-ring gearbox (you’d have to, wouldn’t you?), splash out on some carbonfibre bits and bobs ($9K) as well as the Track Kit (a cool $7K for a data logger, four-point belts and snazzy carbonfibre race seats), you could have parked a Mercedes-AMG A45 in the garage, or even an Alfa Romeo 4C.