The compact Abarth 695 Biposto crams a lot of power into a very small space. Astute readers will note this car’s strong resemblance to Fiat’s evergreen 500, introduced to great acclaim in 2007 thanks to its healthy dose of retro design. The 500 is now a familiar site in continental cities, just like its diminutive forebear, Dante Giacosa’s original Fiat Cinquecento. And like that original, the 500 is still shipped over to Fiat’s sporting subsidiary Abarth to be transformed from city slicker to racing machine.
Historically, Abarth has always beefed up its raw material with spoilers and flared wheel arches and the Biposto is no exception, giving the already trim design a hefty, muscular stance. The 695 Biposto is the most extreme iteration of Abarth’s go-faster ideology, shorn of any and all extraneous weight (as well as any ‘Fiat’ badges). That means foregoing rear seats, a radio and even the door trim, giving the interior a stripped-down, back-to-basic feel that communicates the marque’s racing pedigree from the outset. This layer of raw machismo is taken to even greater extremes with the regular 695 Biposto, which adds four point racing harnesses instead of conventional seatbelts and a racing-style gearbox.
The 695 Biposto Record is an edition of 133 cars with a little more luxury, the number built equating to the 133 international racing records set by the company’s founder Carlo Abarth. Available only in scorching Modena Yellow, it’s not a subtle machine, inside or out (although at least the harnesses are replaced by conventional seatbelts). A 1.4 litre engine, boosted to 190hp, allows the exhaust note to be pitched just right, sporting and bold without resorting to the window rattling tricks of its bigger-engined peers.
Small sports cars tend to bring out a rash of automotive clichés – pocket rockets with go-kart handling, etc. etc. – and the Biposto is especially susceptible to hyperbole. Yet there’s undeniably a welcome purity to the way this car drives, with more than enough power for day-to-day use, crisp but friendly handling and of course all the benefits that come with being a fraction of the size of your fellow road users. Abarth still sets the bar for pint-sized but powerful cars.