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2015 Abarth 695 Biposto detailed

If you can’t drive — or drive very well — then give the Fiat Abarth 695 Biposto a miss. It’s not for you.

It’s a race car for the road, complete with a competition gearbox that’s as tough to handle as the 18-speed shift on a B-double interstate hauler.

Not just that, but a fully loaded Biposto — with six-speed “dog-ring” gearbox, custom built by Bacci Romana, that sits at the heart of the car — will run you up to $108,000. Compare that with the most basic Fiat 500, the 1.2-litre Pop, at $16,000.

The tagline for the car is “Add a drop of madness” and that’s what has happened as Fiat takes a basic 500 and shifts it up a notch further from even the 695 Ferrari and Maserati models it has built in the past.

The promise for the Biposto is a 0-100km/h sprint in 5.9 seconds (not exactly supercar mad) and a top speed of 225km/h from a tweaked 1.4L turbo engine (140kW/250Nm).

It’s all about raw performance in a car that weighs just 997kg. That includes a stripped-out cabin with just two race-style bucket seats, hence “Biposto”.

Only 15 cars are coming to Australia, with a starting price of $65,000. That compares with $60,000 for the Maserati 695 that sold 40 cars and the $69,990 for the 695 Ferrari model delivered to 23 owners in Australia.

“We have 15 cars. That’s where we thought the demand would be because, obviously, the price of admission is quite high,” said Fiat spokeswoman Lucy McLellan. “The Biposto is likely to appeal to collectors. Customers who perhaps may already own a supercar.

It comes complete with a competition gearbox that’s as tough to handle as the 18-speed shift on a B-double interstate hauler

“The Biposto comes with proper street cred. If you’re after a race car that has been reverse-engineered for the road then this is the car for you.

“I’d challenge anyone to find a vehicle that offers the same sense of theatre and race-car experience anywhere near the price.”

Fiat claims the Biposto is the first road-legal car with a dog-ring gearbox and two-thirds of local cars will come with the brutally fast change. The car also gets fully adjustable suspension, four-point racing harnesses and optional race-style data logger.

The Biposto begins its life in Poland, where the bodies-in-white are built before being shipped to Turin for the Abarth treatment. The front-drive pocket rocket‘s list of optional equipment — including the prices — is impressive. Apart from the $16,000 gearbox, with its sculpted and anodised aluminium shift gate, there is a $5000 kit with alloy bonnet and titanium water-oil-fuel caps, $9000 carbon kit that includes the dash and mirrors, racing polycarbonate windows for $7000 and track kit at $7000 with a racing dashboard, seat belts and competition seats with carbon-fibre shells.

You can have it in any colour as long as it’s matt Titanium Grey. “There’s no choice to be made here,” said McLellan. A revised Fiat range is being set for Australian sales from the first half of 2016.

The price of the 500 is expected to drop back to $14,000, where it has worked well in the past. There will be a family-focused 500X with a return of the 124 Spider — the Fiat version of the latest Mazda MX-5 — in the third quarter of next year.

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