One of my favourite surprises from the Frankfurt show was to be found on the Abarth standard in the form of the Abarth 695 Competizione.
Essentially a stripped out version of the Abarth 500 Esseesse, the 695 Competizione features some extra goodies that make it more of a street-legal racer than a souped-up city car.
From the outside the 695 Competizione really stands out thanks to its matt Grigio Competizione Opaco paintwork, as well as a set of badges on the rear flanks and the same 17″ rims as seen on the Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari. However, it’s on the inside that the real character of the Competizione shines through.
Take a look inside and you’ll quickly realise that the back seats are gone, replaced by a roll-cage painted in the same colour as the outside. Hopefully you’ll never need to test the effectiveness of the roll-cage but it certainly screams ‘race car’, even if the kids won’t have room for the school run.
The seats are replaced with some fantastic Sabelt leather and alcantara-trimmed items, while carbon-fibre trim on the dash adds to the exclusive feel of the 695. There’s also a specially prepared instrumental panel provided by Jaeger and Magnetti Marelli telemetry built into the satellite navigation system. That should make track days interesting!
Under the bonnet sits the same 1.4 turbo engine – tuned to develop more than 180 HP – but in Competizione form the 500 uses a five-speed electromechanical gearbox, complete with wheel mounted paddles. The transmission has two modes: ‘Street’ behaves like an automatic gearbox while ‘Track’ behaves like a manual.
As on the 695 Tributo Ferrari, the suspension and braking systems have been beefed up to cope with the extra power. Brembo 305mm disc brakes with fixed four-piston calipers sit at the front while special shock absorbers have been fitted to improve performance.
Oh, and the icing on the cake is a “Record Monza” variable back-pressure dual mode exhaust that switches into loud mode above 3,000 rpm. Brilliant!