‘Bonkers’ Abarth 695 Biposto Record tonne of fun
Abarth built its reputation on building small, Fiat-based sports cars – motoring editor Andy Russell drives its most extreme road car ever.
It’s the ‘bonkers Biposto’, the ultimate Abarth that sums up everything Fiat’s performance arm stands for.
Just 133, one for each record held by the Scorpion-badged brand, yellow 695 Biposto Records were available worldwide and, despite its price tag - £36,610 in the UK, this pocket rocket sold like hot cakes.
Such is its rarity, and popularity, Abarth has kept this hoot of a hot-hatch on its UK press fleet.
Designed more for track days than a daily drive, the fastest and most powerful ever Abarth uses a 190hp version of the 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and justifies its price tag with Brembo racing brakes, suspension with hydraulic height adjustment and racing springs by Extreme Shox, lightened 18in OZ alloy wheels, a mechanical slip differential and Akrapovic dual-stage exhaust with twin titanium tailpipes for class-leading weight-to-power ratio and acceleration.
Biposto is Italian for two-seater so behind the carbon shell front sports seats is a three-bar titanium roll cage with a webbing net to stop luggage taking off. To save weight it’s frills-free with no air-con, audio system or rear wiper.
Hugely impractical, it puts a huge smile on your face… over short distances unless you don’t value your fillings. The rock-hard suspension – you wonder if there is any - picks up every bump, lump and little pebble in the road at low speeds and tyre noise, added to engine roar and a boomy cabin from lack of rear seats and sound-deadening, would drown out the audio system if it had one. As a motorcyclist I’m used to avoiding potholes, ruts and ridges – I did so in this Abarth 695 too.
But this is a car built for the track. Even at legal speeds on smooth roads, the reasoning behind the Record hits you as much as the thump in the back when you switch the engine to Sport mode and it goes from being quick to ballistic with an even rortier, sportier raspy roar from the twin exhausts.
The engine’s flexible nature helped economy with a real-world 37mpg overall and 43mpg best – just as well with a tiny 35-litre fuel tank.
Apart from a turbo boost gauge on top of the dashboard, the fascia is straight out of the Fiat 500 - minus air-con and audio system.
At 997kg, this Abarth 695 Biposto Record is a tonne of fun. With its yellow paint and tar cold grey trims, it puts the ‘bee’ into Biposto but sounds like an angry wasp in a tin can with quite a sting too.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Abarth 695 Biposto Record 1.4 T-Jet £36,610
Engine: 1,368cc, 190hp, four-cylinder turbo petrol with five-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 5.9 seconds; top speed 143mph
MPG: 45.9 combined
CO2 emissions: 145g/km
The Fiat 500-based Abarth range now comprises hatchbacks and convertibles - 595, Trofeo, Turismo and Competizione, with 145, 160, 165 and 180hp respectively, and 695 165hp XSR and 180hp Rivale.