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In the Spotlight – Abarth 695 Biposto {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

10 Nov 2017

I’m going start this off with a very odd statement – there is absolutely no reason why you’d buy this Abarth Biposto. Not one, there are so many things that are negative points about it that you’d think it should be chucked in the bin. But do I want one and should you play for tickets to win one? ABSOLUTELY YES!!

So what is the Abarth 695 Biposto? To break it down to the most basic terms, it’s like the Porsche 911 GT3 RS but applied to a Fiat 500 instead of a 911 Carrera. So its lighter, stripped out, angrier, more focused and less practical – but an absolute hoot to drive. There are so many delicious details to the Biposto that it really does feel like a bespoke track car rather than a production model, but inside and out they are everywhere.

Starting outside, you can see the basic shape is Fiat 500, but it’s just so much more aggressive – the front bumper juts out and is far lower, with in this case a lovely carbon splitter arrangement and a large intake above, with smaller intakes at the sides for cooling the brakes. At the sides there are some wider sills which meet up with the front and rear wheelarch extensions, under which sit a set of utterly gorgeous alloy wheels. The O.Z. Racing Ultraleggera wheel is well known for being one of the lightest alloy designs out there and these 18” examples in satin anthracite look absolutely stunning, especially with the red Brembo calipers behind them. At the rear we have a wider bumper with a carbon diffuser which houses two massive exhaust pipes.

Now those pipes are worth talking about – on the lesser sporting Abarth 595 Competizione the exhaust is a dual twin-pipe setup which sits in the same round opening as here, which to these eyes just looks wrong. But here the delicious titanium exhaust made by the noisemeisters at Akrapovic has these large round pipes which fits far better. And what a noise they make too – fire up the Biposto and it barks into life with a blare of revs and settles into a delicious burble, made deeper and more fulsome by hitting the Sport button (which you have to do, every time, it’s the law). It’s not exactly a rich and cultured sound, I’ll admit that (some said it sounded like a diesel truck) but to me it reminds me of a 4-cylinder race car from the 80’s so is a massive winner. A quick blip of the throttle and you get the sucking of the intake from the BMC carbon airbox, the bark from the exhaust and even a good measure of turbo whistle as well – it’s absolutely silly for a small car like this to make such a collection of noises but I’m glad it does as it’s addictive.

Of course the thing making those noises is a tiny little 1.4 litre turbocharged 4-cylinder lump, but it puts out a hilarious 190hp. That may not sound like a great deal in a world of 350hp Focus RSs but you have to consider one point – the Abarth only weighs 997kg, a good 550kg less than the RS, so the power to weight ratio is only slightly less. That lithe weight has been achieved by basically stripping everything non-essential out of the interior. So there are no back seats in their place is a cross-brace and a cargo net. There are no carpets in the boot area. The seats are carbon-backed race items. The door cards are plastic composite with a pull-toggle to close. There’s no radio, no speakers. There’s no A/C, just a basic heater. No auto lights, there isn’t even a variable windscreen wiper setting. This Biposto is about as basic as you can make a car and still sell it.

 So what’s it like to drive? Lively, that’s the first word I’d use. I had this car for 6 days and aside from needing a chiropractor at the end thanks to the suspension it was an absolute hoot to drive and I didn’t want to give it back. That’s not to say that it’s a finely honed, polished driving machine, absolutely the opposite in fact – compared to something like a Fiesta ST or Polo GTi it’s technically a mess. The engine has some serious turbo lag – put your foot down in 2nd gear and you can honestly count a second (maybe two) before you feel the boost come in and when it does and the road is damp I really hope you’re holding on tight to that wheel as it will torque steer and try to wrestle it out of your hands. That makes it somewhat unpredictable when accelerating out of corners as the torque tries to pull the car one way or the other and you have to guess when it’s going to happen.

I actually went to a large (private, off road, obviously) open space and floored it in second with my hands off the wheel and it changed lanes by itself. However – this doesn’t mean I don’t like the car – far from it. There’s one thing the Biposto has in spades over pretty much every other hot hatch I’ve driven in recent years – character. With all the whooshing noises, blaring exhaust pipes, torque steer, boost lag and rock hard suspension, you’re constantly ‘on it’ when driving the Abarth – every input has a consequence, every time you lose concentration and start thinking about what you want for dinner the Biposto knows and will try to throw you off the road into a hedge. It’s absolutely, completely and utterly exhilarating to drive. It’s more than fast enough for something so small and when you’re slotting it through the gears, grabbing back onto the wheel as you accelerate and holding on for dear life your pulse is racing, there’s sweat on your brow and adrenaline is pulsing through your veins. All while not even breaking the speed limit.

There are few cars that can offer such a raw, visceral driving experience at legal speeds and as flawed as it may be, I’m incredibly happy that Abarth still make such a silly, hilarious, brilliant little angry banana.

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Like the angry banana? Get your Abarth 695 Biposto right here - but tickets are only available until the end of the week! Just £2 per ticket, with 20% off if you buy 5 or more, or a massive 40% off if you buy 10 or more.

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