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POSTO MODERNISM (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
The crazy Abarth 695 is one for the true hot hatch connoisseur. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 52
With a power to weight ratio akin to an Audi S4 or an old BMW M3, the 180hp Abarth 695 delivers a serious slug of performance. With an interior that's finished in carbon fibre and carbon-shelled sports seats, it makes other hot hatches seem about as focused as Hubble Space Telescope v1.0.
Backgroundword count: 123
Mainstream car manufacturers tend to be a conservative bunch. It's not too often that something wonderfully unhinged gets past the endless committee stages and vanilla customer clinics. And it's rarer still that such products make any money. Renault has tried again and again with cars that make you wonder if something periodically seeps into the water supply and Alfa Romeo can occasionally go way off-page with some of their wares. Add Abarth to that list. Okay, it's already got a reputation for building small cars with big personalities but the company has excelled itself with the crazy 695. A hot hatch based on the Fiat 500, this one packs a 180hp punch and weighs less than a tonne. It's a piece of work.
Driving Experienceword count: 163
The Abarth 695 rewards a certain degree of context. Taken in isolation, 180hp isn't a great deal in a modern hot hatch. Factor in a kerb weight of under a tonne, however and you start to form a picture of a very potent performer. Suddenly you're in the same power to weight bracket as cars like the Renaultsport Megane 300, the BMW E36 M3 and the Audi S4 - and if you know anything about cars you'll appreciate the tastiness of that little list. The 695 drives through the front wheels, yet still puts its power down cleanly enough to get to 62mph in 5.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 143mph. The transmission is interesting, as with a tick of an options box you can own the only street-legal production car fitted with a quick-shifting 'dog-ring' sequential manual gearbox, which will bring a certain level of ferocity to full-bore upshifts. Massive Brembo brakes look agreeably over-specified for such a tiny car.
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Category: Sporting Cars
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