Vijay Pattni27 June 2014

Meet the fastest Abarth ever

We get up close and personal with 190bhp, two-seater Abarth 500. Yours for £32k

It all starts with numbers. 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds. A kerbweight of 997kg. And a power to weight ratio of 5.2kg for each horsepower. Welcome to the most insane Abarth 500 in history.

It’s called the Biposto, and it’s currently gaining a growing and enthusiastic crowd at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Quite rightly too, because this little terrier boasts 190bhp and two ruddy seats.

“It’s the smallest supercar, it’s like an extension of your body,” Abarth man Maurizio Consalvo enthuses to TG. “Our original brief was to bring out the emotion of our racing competition through our road going cars.”

So what exactly is it? Well, that’s easy. It’s an Abarth 500 (that’s a modified Fiat 500), pushed to the very limits of its muscle. The engine is a 1.4-litre turbocharged lump brought over from the Tributo Ferrari edition, but here gets treated to a special air box that creates ‘a better dynamic flow’ to the modified intake manifold.

Then there’s a new front bumper, necessitated by the larger intercooler required to keep those horses running, along with a remapped ECU.

There’s more, too. The tracks have been eked out by one centimetre front and back, it sits on hydraulic shocks with racing springs, there’s a Brembo four-piston braking system, an Akrapovic exhaust (the same Akrapovic that put an exhaust on the upcoming Megane RS), lightweight alloy wheels, and an internal strut brace that sits in place of the rear bench.

Oh yes, the rear bench: it’s non existent, meaning there are just two racing seats up front. And for an extra £6k, you can specify a proper dog-ring gearbox and limited slip differential. Best upgrade your helmsman licence.

“The removal of the rear bench obviously created problems with the weight distribution under extreme braking,” Maurizio tells us, “but we changed the parameters of the suspension and it’s now the same as the regular Abarth 500. The feedback from our test drivers is that the Biposto feels very neutral. This is what we wanted.”

The whole thing has taken a year to develop, and Abarth is current finalising the testing. “24 hours a day we’re always thinking of ways to increase the performance of this vehicle,” Maurizio says.

So was there ever an opportunity to make it a mid-engined Biposto? Maurizio shrugs, and laughs. “Theoretically anything is possible,” he tells me, “but obviously it’s difficult because for that you have to change the most expensive part in the car, which is the chassis. If we started from scratch – built it like a racing car with tubes – then yes, it would be very easy to put those engineering values in. But in this 500, it’s impossible.”

Prices kick off at £32k, and for that you get a standard five-speed manual gearbox and electronic diff. £6k more gets you that special racing gearbox and a proper diff, while another £3k gets you a carbon pack and polycarbonate windows. No glass. Proper racing stuff. Some more money gets you racing harnesses and different racing seats, and even a digital data logger.

“We have to bring in a new era for Abarth,” says Maurizio, “one that combines advanced technology, customisation and the hand-built nature of the car.” Yes, you read that right, this Biposto is hand-built in Turin.

It promises to be a fiery little bugger, this.

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