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Ferrari-inspired Abarth 500 lands at $70K

Fiery 500: The Tributo Ferrari, available here in limited numbers, is twice the price of the hot Abarth 500 Esseesse at $70k.

Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari arrives Down Under as Fiat’s wildest and priciest 500

Abarth logo24 May 2011

ABARTH’S Ferrari-inspired 500 exoticar, the Abarth 695 ‘Tributo Ferrari’, has arrived in Australia with a pricetag to match its carbon-clad interior, muscle-car performance and strictly limited availability.

Australia’s first shipment of 40 or so ‘Ferrari 500s’ – including six for New Zealand – is already spoken for, and those lucky (and keen) enough to snaffle one of the second batch that arrives in a couple of months will pay no less than $69,990 plus on-road costs for the privilege.

That makes the ultimate Fiat 500 twice the price of the red-hot Abarth 500 Esseesse ($34,990 plus ORCs) that joined the Fiat city-car range here in March, or almost triple the price of the standard Fiat 500 1.4 Sport ($24,990).

However, a host of unique additions make this much more than a Prancing Horse-badged 500, and far more bespoke than more recent limited-edition version of the 500 such as the Diesel and Gucci, which may also become available in Australia.

The 695 takes 500 performance to a whole new level by leveraging the Abarth brand’s relationship with Fiat group sister company Ferrari more seriously than ever via the addition of a host of cosmetic and performance components.

The first collaboration between the two Italian performance brands resulted in the Mille Miglia-winning Ferrari 166/250 MM Abarth of 1953, and Abarth has also designed specific exhaust systems for a string of Ferrari models, some of which won world championships.

60 center imageLeft: Abarth 695 Ferrari Tributo. Bottom: Supermodel Natasha Poly at the recent launch of the Fiat 500 Gucci.

The Fiat-owned brands that bear the surnames of two racers-turned-tuners who went on to form companies that have become renowned in both the automotive and motorsport worlds more recently joined forces to produce a series of 200 numbered Abarth 500s for European Fiat dealers to use as courtesy cars in 2009.

The Abarth brand was created by Austrian Karl Abarth, who changed his name to Carlo after becoming an Italian national and tuned Fiats in the 1950s before developing a high-performance version of the original 500 in 1957.

The Abarth name was bought by Fiat in 1971 and achieved its greatest racing success a year after Carlo died with victory in the 1980 World Rally Championship.

The scorpion logo is now seen in 180 showrooms in 17 countries, and now Fiat says the Abarth ‘695’ represents the greatest Ferrari-Abarth collaboration.

To prove it, Ferrari used the recent Italian GP at Monza to present F1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa with their own examples of the 695, a badge that recalls the 595 name applied to flagship versions of the first Abarth 500.

At the heart of the Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari, as we reported when it made its world debut at the Paris motor show last September, is an even more powerful 132kW/250Nm version of the 1.4-litre T-Jet turbo petrol four that powers the Abarth Esseesse hatch, which should also arrive here in 500C cabrio form, developed by Ferrari and Abarth engineers.

The 118kW/230Nm Esseesse (Italian for SS) already improves upon the standard 500’s 74kW naturally aspirated engine to produce 46 per cent and 34kW more power, and is also 19kW more powerful than the standard 99kW/230Nm Abarth 500 (not sold here).

That is enough to accelerate the Scorpion-badged 500 SS to 100km/h in 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 211km/h – well up on the standard 500 1.4’s figures of 10.5 seconds and 182km/h.

The 500 695, however, adds a fixed-vane Garrett 1446 turbocharger and “Record Monza” variable back-pressure dual-mode exhaust system designed to improve engine performance and sound above 3000rpm.

As with the Esseesse, peak power occurs at 5750rpm, but maximum torque rises to 250Nm at 3300rpm in Sport mode. The higher power and torque outputs are claimed to reduce 0-100km/h acceleration to less than seven seconds and top speed to 225km/h.

At the same time, the most rapid bambino comes with the same 6.5L/100km combined fuel consumption and 155g/km CO2 emissions figures of the SS 500, which has proved a hit in Australia, with Fiat dealers now taking orders from September production.

The new powertrain is linked exclusively to a faster-shifting ‘C510’ version of the 500’s optional five-speed Dualogic automated single-clutch manual transmission with Ferrari-style steering column-mounted shift paddles, dubbed MTA (Manual Transmission Automated).

Unspecified weight savings over the 1035kg Esseesse are behind the Abarth-Ferrari's performance gains and the 695's ‘Abarth Corsa by Sabelt’ seats alone save 10kg apiece.

Trimmed in grey leather on versions with Abu Dhabi Blue exterior paint and in natural black leather on Titanium Grey versions (Scuderia Red and Modena Yellow cars will also be produced), the front sports buckets are lifted direct from the racetrack and feature a carbon-fibre shell and seat base.

The heavily bolstered carbon Sabelt seats feature body support strip elements filled with mono-layer padding, which as GoAuto can attest offer loads of lateral support while remaining super-comfortable and fully adjustable. They have no impact on the relatively generous legroom offered by the 500’s twin rear seats, but the large single-piece seatbacks further limit forward vision for rear occupants.

That is likely to be of little concern to buyers of what is quite clearly a driver’s car, however. Other driver-oriented extras include real all-alloy pedals with Scorpion logos, a dash-top turbo boost gauge, flat-bottomed steering wheel with black leather cladding and a red-white-blue rim insert, and a Jaeger-designed instrument panel that draws inspiration from Ferrari road cars and features a 240km/h speedo and 6000rpm tacho.

Then there is a lower, firmer front strut/rear torsion beam suspension package comprising shorter springs and stiffer dampers, plus an even beefier Brembo brake package than the Esseesse’s, featuring larger 305mm cross-drilled and ventilated front brake discs (up from the SS’s 284mm) that can be disassembled and are gripped by four-piston fixed red Brembo callipers with HP 1000 high-performance front brake pads.

The latter bulge out from behind Ferrari inspired (but still 17-inch like the Esseesse) ‘ET 35’ alloy wheels with 205/40-section Z-rated performance tyres.

Interior carbon highlights including a full-width dash panel are complimented on the outside by a real carbon-fibre front lip spoiler, B-pillar covers and wing mirror scalps, while the front air intakes are painted in the same Racing Grey as the wheels.

Other interior highlights include a non-slip aluminium front passenger footwell, unique scuff plates and an individually numbered build plate.

Naturally, the Abarth (rather than Fiat) badged 695 Tributo Ferrari comes fully equipped with seven airbags, electronic stability control, ABS brakes, a hill-hold function, bi-Xenon headlights, dual-zone climate-control, a premium sound system, Bluetooth phone and audio device connectivity, tinted windows and power windows/mirrors.

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