Plenty of car companies tell us their new products are "race cars for the road", but rarely does the term have any credence. Anyone who has ever set foot in a race car, let alone driven one, will tell you how dissimilar they are to the average road car.

Some get close though, such as Abarth's new 695 Biposto, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. Positioned on Abarth's stand next to an original Abarth 695 Assetto Corse, the modern car dwarfed the older one, but both are clearly cut from the same cloth.

As with all good hardcore hot hatchbacks, it has a healthy power output. 190 horses may not be much in the greater scheme of things, but from a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder it's an impressive output, made all the more relevant by a minuscule 995 kilogram curb weight--just 2,193 pounds. Abarth says it has the best power to weight ratio in its class as a result. It's also brisk, with a 5.9-second 0-62 mph sprint--over half a second quicker than a Ford Focus ST--while top speed is 143 mph.

There's no dual-clutch gearbox here, either. The race car connotations are upheld with the option of a proper racing dog-box by Bacci Romano, allowing skilled drivers to make rapid and completely clutchless up-changes. The turret the shifter sits on is a true work of art too, fashioned from aluminum with a distinct H-pattern layout. It sits in a cabin shorn of its rear seats--hence the Italian moniker "biposto", for two-seater--and liberally laced with carbon fiber accents. There's a titanium rear turret bar, a set of Abarth Corsa by Sabelt carbon racing seats, full racing harnesses and an MXL digital data-logger. The rear cabin has been trimmed in a material Abarth says "recalls the color and texture of asphalt".

At a glance, the exterior is relatively subtle in comparison, but features a set of lightweight 18-inch OZ alloy wheels and a full set of Brembo brakes. There's also a front-mounted intercooler, an Akrapovic exhaust system (sure to make the 695 sound even better than the standard Abarth) and all-round Extreme Shox adjustable shock absorbers. Most notable is the new body kit, designed by Zender under the watchful eye of the Abarth Style Center, and the whole lot is painted in a textured gray finish. Two humps in the hood recall images of older Abarths, and the keen-eyed will note a race-style sliding perspex window.

Head over to our Geneva Motor Show hub page for more information and galleries from the show.


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