LET’S GO BONKERS
No room for creature comforts in race replica, PAUL GOVER writes
FIAT’S “pocket rocket” is madness on four wheels — which why it’s so appealing
Bonkers is the word that works best for Abarth 695 Biposto.
It’s a bonkers little car, stripped out, pared down and tightly focused it has only two seats provide its Italian name.
The Biposto is the ultimate Fiat 500 bonkers craziness includes non-synchro racing gearbox, perspex side windows, matt grey bodywork, lashings of carbonfibre in the cabin and giant (relatively) brakes wheels.
Even what’s missing adds to its appeal — aircon, rear seat even door handles are absent. Air vents
fixed, to cut the weight of adjusters.
It’s hard imagine why anyone would want a Biposto, especially at a minimum of $65,000 with potential to spend well in excess of $80,000. Until you drive it.
It’s the anti-Camry, so wildly alive it forces Every gear change “crash” box is a venture into unknown, the turbo power comes on hard and fast, and the cabin quickly becomes hi-tech sweatbox even with 22C Melbourne day. “The people who have bought Biposto love it,” says Fiat Chrysler Australia marketing man Zac Loo.
So far, there are 13 Biposto lovers and more still seen the car
want one. The supply from Italy is exhausted already.
most bonkers item is “dog ring” gearbox, a five-speed manual with no synchromesh to ease the changes. It’s the sort of thing you usually only find in full-on race cars, or a giant old-school truck.
It’s beautifully anodised and chromed, its shift mechanism a genuine work of art, just as the rest of the car is trimmed in carbon-fibre that unique to car.
And that’s saying lot, when Abarth has already worked up Maserati and Ferrari “tributo” models.
At the heart of the Biposto is the same tweaked 1.4-litre turbo four as those cars — making 140kW/250Nm and driving the front wheels — sort of body bits you expect on a race replica road car.
Abarth fans recall hot rod versions of the original 500 back in
’60s, which were easily identified by boots propped open for engine cooling.
The scant time I have with the Biposto is more than enough.
I settle into the race-tight bucket seat and have a tentative try of the dog-ring gearbox.
This car is much better finished than the Abarth at Bathurst but it’s still full-on speed machine.
says it will rip up to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds and it feels that way as I give full throttle dash through gears. The trick is to change hard fast on the upshifts, then be super-careful to match the revs to lower gear downshifts.
Get it right and lever goes snick-snick between gears, but there are times when graunchingly wrong. A loving owner will adjust relatively quickly I’d want to be mates with a racing gearbox specialist for long-term peace of mind.
The car attracts plenty of attention in traffic and in the absence of audio there’s time to think play.
So I blast up down gears, hunker through corners — where it grips incredibly well and generally behave like a six-year-old with a new BMX.
I don’t have the dollars or garage space for Biposto, sort of car everyone should drive once in their life. just like bonkers little critter, love it.
Price From $65,000
Abarth says it will rip up to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds and feels that way as I give full throttle dash through the gears. PAUL GOVER