Review - Abarth 695 Biposto Record
Ok let’s get a few things straight, yes it’s based on a Fiat 500, yes it’s list price was £37k and no it doesn’t have a radio. Now that’s out of the way, let me explain why all those things don’t matter. Occasionally you get to drive a car that makes zero sense on paper, but when you’re behind the wheel, it somehow comes together. This car does exactly that.
From a first glance you realise this car has got an attitude problem. Aggressive styling, lashings of carbon and go faster parts that are usually reserved for supercars. Why does it need a carbon diffuser? Why does it have huge brembo brakes, and why on earth does it have an Akrapovic exhaust? Well because why the hell not?
That theme is carried inside the car too, more carbon,figure hugging Sabelt seats complete with matching harnesses and zero infotainment. It’s ridiculous, but once you’re in the seat and you yank the harnesses tight, you get it. Turn the key and an immediate bark followed by a deep burble fills the cabin. A prod of the throttle brings more burbles and some diesel truck turbo noises, its group b with a dash of Cummins. It’s unapologetic, and it really doesn’t care for your neighbour’s Sunday lie in.
Around town it’s manners don’t get any better, it doesn’t want to go slowly and you soon start to feel the same way. The ride is firm, but doesn’t crash over bumps and there’s good body control. Those big OZ wheels and low profile tires don’t help when you’re navigating potholes, but they do look bloody good.
Out on bigger roads you can finally let the 695 off its leash. This particular 695 has had a mild remap, and on first impressions you can really feel all it’s claimed 220bhp. Throttle response is impressive, and for saying it’s only a 1.4 litre 4 banger, theres gobs of torque. An LSD helps get the power down and you can feel it fighting through the wheel, it’s got some torque steer but if anything it adds to it’s maniac character.
On country roads the chassis stiffness really comes through. The steering is direct and the car has no slop. You can’t help but dart into corners, stab on some mid corner throttle and let the LSD pull you to corner exit. When the surface gets rougher you just hang on a little tighter, it skips around but there’s plenty of grip for you to lean into.
Brake feel is excellent, as you would expect from a proper brembo setup. Leaning on them hard shows that they have no issues in hauling down this 997kg Featherweight. The gearshift is the only part that doesn’t quite fit the character of the car, it’s very light and lacks the notchy feeling of a good gearbox.Heel toeing and rev matching require a big pump of throttle, but a successfully executed downshift does feel rewarding even if the box is a little soft.
Overall the 695 is a solid 9/10. It’s one of those cars that makes you grin no matter what speed you’re travelling. Yes it lacks refinement, but it really doesn’t matter, as soon as you give the throttle its first stomp you’ll be hooked. It’s like a 488 Pista that’s been on a boil wash, and only the Italians could make a car that feels this way. Well done Abarth, it’s a corker.