You know those times when you do something a bit crazy? Like deciding to do 15 tequila slammers in a row, dying your hair an outrageous colour, or eating a whole cheesecake to yourself. Well, Abarth had a similar “crazy moment” with one of their 500 projects. This is the 2017 Abarth 695 Biposto Record and it is the most hardcore hot hatchback money can buy.
Off the wall moment number one… It only comes in yellow. This loud shade is unique to the Record edition, a car that celebrates the speed records of founder Carlo Abarth. Just 133 of those not so mellow yellow pocket rockets will be produced. Blistered wheel arches shroud a wider track whilst swollen bodywork adds muscle to this little car. Real carbon fibre forms the front splitter, side skirts, and rear diffuser. As if the 2017 Abarth 695 Biposto Record didn’t look serious enough, a set of lightweight OZ Racing wheels sit inside the arches. The whole car is hunkered low to the ground and whilst small, its presence is mighty.
Now, the 2017 Abarth 695 Biposto Record is not just doing its best impression of a racing car, for all intents and purposes, it is one with a set of number plates. That means whilst you get motorsport performance, you also get a motorsport interior. No satellite navigation, no radio, no rear seats, no speakers, no USB charger, not even carpets. What you do get are a set of body hugging carbon fibre race seats and a bit of rope to close the door. Well, Sebastian Vettel doesn’t complain that his F1 car lacks split-folding rear seats, does he? Clearly this car is for the purist in the most extreme sense of the word.
Under the bonnet is the most potent incarnation of Fiat’s 1.4 litre turbocharged engine. Producing 187 BHP and 184lb ft of torque, impressive figures for a car so small, it certainly packs a punch on paper. Fire the engine and an eruption of revs settles into a deep burble. Anyone who hadn’t noticed the bright yellow car in their vicinity has now been informed. At low speeds the lack of sound insulation and firm suspension reminds you that the high street is not its natural environment. Whilst easy to park, speed bumps and other urban life obstacles sometimes prove challenging. That said, a big plus to having no rear seats is that you can load plenty of shopping in the back. But take the 2017 Abarth 695 Biposto Record out onto a track or stretch of British country road and it all starts to make sense! Prod the “Sport” button and an immediate pick-up in engine responsiveness can be felt. The weighty steering allows for precise road placement and those Brembo brakes that hide between the spokes can be relied upon to deliver accurate and meaningful stopping power. In this mode valves open in the exhaust that allows for a burly growl and rasp to reverberate. It genuinely sounds like a little rally car tearing through a forest stage. The short wheelbase allows for mind bending changes of direction promoting a real go kart-like feel. However, this car takes someone who knows how to get the most out of it. Anybody can make it do 0-62 MPH in 5.9 seconds, but to set a good lap time or master that fabled B-road, you need to be on the ball because this car doesn’t suffer fools lightly. The torque steer is manageable with a firm grip on the wheel, but you must modulate the throttle and brakes keenly to shift the weight of the car around and get those front tyres pushed into the ground. Also, the engine and gearbox have to be work to keep that turbo spooled up for maximum performance. This is indeed a car for those who love the science of driving.
Those who still see this as a cute little Fiat 500 couldn’t not be more wrong. It is an entry point for motorsport that so happens to be road legal. It is rough, ready, and takes no prisoners for the most part. Hot hatchbacks do not come more “Class-A” than this. At £36,610 you have to be a very keen Abarth fan to make the jump from a comparatively tame 595 Competizione. With that in mind, just 59 of the 133 are coming to the UK and so you would be getting your hands on something mighty exclusive. The 695 Biposto is totally bonkers, but that only makes us love it even more!