Everything you wouldn't expect a Fiat 500 halo version to be.
Nowadays, Fiat is very much a company that revolves around the 500. Or, to be specific, the retro styling cues that made the 2007 reboot of the cutesy urban runabout so successful in the first place. Whereas other territories have other models to spice up the marketplace a bit (Turkey has a budget sedan called the Aegea, most of Europe and Asia gets a rebadged Dodge Journey in the form of the Fiat Freemont, etc.), the US is one of the few Fiat territories where all it really has to offer are variations of the 500 theme.
It's probably why Fiat decided to unveil the new 124 Spider at this year's LA Auto Show. Where best to generate as much buzz for your sports car as possible, than to reveal it in a market that only really knows you for family cars dressed up in deja vu designs? Unfortunately, the Fiat 124 Spider won't be on sale until next year. So, to get your fast Fiat fix, you'll need to go for one of the sportier Abarth models – and it's here where you'll find perhaps one of the most out-of-place flagship models in any car company line-up. The revelations of this unique package won't come in the form of what model these potent Abarth variants are.
You're still getting a Fiat 500, albeit one that's a fair bit faster than the 101-hp Fiat 500 Pop you see buzzing about city centers. Instead, the surprise is that Fiat's in-house Abarth tuners have been able to make a track day car out of a Fiat 500. Yep, that's right. Fiat makes a 500 that looks just as good in Los Angeles' rush hour traffic as it does being thrashed around the Nurburgring. Officially called the Abarth 695 Biposto, this potent little pocket rocket is about the closest thing you can get to a road-legal racing car. The front seats, for instance, are Recaro buckets, and the rear seats have been removed entirely so the racing harnesses have a secure restraining point.
Brembo brakes are also fitted, and there's even the option to add a proper dogleg, touring car-style manual gearbox. By all means, then, this is the most barmy Fiat 500 road car on sale anywhere in the world (we would usually have "in the USA" instead of "anywhere in the world", but Fiat won't be bringing the 695 Biposto to the States).
It's amazing to see a mainstream company have such an outlandish model in its line-up, and we applaud the people who gave this niche appeal hot hatchback the go ahead for a proper production run. The fact it's also a hugely expensive piece of kit only cements the Abarth 695 Biposto's status as one of the most unusual flagship models to come out of any car company. Even before you think about trying to import one over, you'll need to have at least $50,000 going spare. Go with all the proper track day options, and you'll require at least $80,000.
That's enough to get you a Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 or Ford Shelby GT350R with change to spare. Nevertheless, the Abarth's existence should be celebrated. After all, what other Fiat 500 model manages to stand from the rest of the line-up like this bonkers Biposto?