★★★★☆ | Abarth 695C Rivale
Carlo and Carlo Called, They’ve Made A Car For You.
What Have We Got?
Abarth has been giving us magical Fiat 500’s for over 10 years now and you wonder how, a car that is over a decade old, can still be relevant in the ever-changing A-segment city car section.
The answer is to make it good in the first place. Once you’ve done that, the development and evolutions can be kept to a minimum.
The Rivale has come about by joining Carlos Abarth, he who took small Fiats and made them fast, and Carlos Riva, he who made special boats, together to make one special city car with an eye-watering price to match.
Oh my word, where do you start. For a car with older underpinnings, it manages to do two things. Puts the power down and still be entertaining to drive. And it is.
There is an abundance of torque steer and when it gets charging, it is a fighter. If it was there all the time, it would tire you out. Thankfully, in commuter mode, it is easy to live with. Put your foot down and… (screams)
And you are fighting with the steering wheel while trying to keep it in a straight line and all this with the roof open and the engine barking and snarling.
Abarth UK opted for the standard carbon fibre trim. I don’t like it. The mahogany option is a better option and more in keeping with Riva’s ethos of something special. It’s a big piece of wood.
The rest is pretty much standard 500 except for the blue leather trim and the numbered plaque screwed into the trim by the handbrake. What that lacks in finesse for a special car costing over £25k, it makes up for by being quite endearing.
Sadly what hasn’t been altered is the infotainment system. For a car that is a decade old, this really is showing signs of age.
Living With It
Millions of 500s have been sold. As a city car, these are just perfect. The boot is small and in the C model, even smaller. You learn to live with the small box in the rear. Likewise, you live with the torque steer fight you have when you stomp your foot on the loud pedal.
You put up with a lot in the 695 C Rivale and yet you never think you wished you’d bought something else. Very few cars these days are as engaging to drive as they are to look at on the drive and this still has it.
It is ridiculously expensive. There are other Fiat and Abarth models with no roof for considerably less and if I’m blunt almost as much fun.
Sometimes fun just isn’t enough. Sometimes fun is just a drive to the shops with Graham Norton on the radio. What we have here then is a howling mixture of fun ramped up to the max that really is barking mad and there just isn’t much in this segment that can match it for thrills and spills.
And with the roof open, everyone around you will hear you laughing (or screaming) before they see the car and you can’t really put a price on that.
Carbon fibre dashboard
Car – Abarth 695C Rivale
Price – £25,390 (as tested)
MPG – 47.1mpg (combined)
Power – 180HP @ 5000rpm
0-62mph – 6.9 seconds
Top Speed – 140 mph
Co2 – 139 (g/km)