Fiat is still milking the trend that Porsche figured out a long time ago: when it comes to sporty cars with image, people will pay a whole lot more to get a whole lot less.
Abarth unveiled its new 695 Competizione at Frankfurt, a more racey version of its tuned Fiat 500 series of cars. Abarth will charge good money for the pleasure of taking out the rear seats for you and will go on to make the car less comfortable, less quiet, and less easy to drive.
Of course this is all part of Abarth's efforts to work its way into the reinvigorated-across-the-pond hardcore hot hatch segment. The rules of that segment are that if your car is less practical, louder, more high strung, and more tiring, then it's perfect. Abarth goes about making its standard Abarth 500 into a pint sized road racer with an uprated MultiAir engine with over 180 horsepower, a paddle-shifting electromechanical transmission with "street" and "track" modes, and a few components from its predecessor, the 695 Tributo Ferrari. When you're at your next trackday, be sure to ask that 695 Competizione owner how the roll bar, 305mm Brembo brakes, valved exhaust, and newly calibrated dampers have delicately improved the car's handling and road holding. If the owner can't explain the most technical minutia of the car's setup, you have the right to bring the car to the Great Trackday Tribunal, where justice will be levied on the insufficiently knowledgeable driver.
Time will tell if it ends up a nerdcore racer like the ugly/beautiful Megane R26.R, or something more of a limited-edition poseur, like the Citroën DS3 Racing, but we are happy to see that the exclusive segment of stripped-down, high-speed road and track cars is extending to more affordable fare, like this little Abarth.