Fiat 500 Pop 2013 review
Fiat Australia has a plan. It wants to transform the streets of Australian cities so they look like...
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We've been dying to have crack at this car since its launch last year.
But the previous distributors of Fiat and Alfa Romeo in this country always laughed off our request. Not so Chrysler which recently resumed responsibility for distribution of the cars here.
Chrysler by way of explanation is 60 per cent owned by Fiat which has gradually lifted its stake in the American company since rescuing it from bankruptcy three years ago. Chrysler bless them managed to scrounge two of the Ferrari tribute cars for a recent drive day in Albury. And what a car!
Based on the Abarth version of the reborn Fiat 500, the 695 Tributo Ferrari is a sensational bit of kit. But, at close to $70,000, it's not likely to find many takers not unless they've already got a Ferrari in the garage.
Abarth, is the performance arm of the company, a bit like HSV is to Holden, with historical links to Ferrari. And they share the same passion for performance, Italian style and attention to detail.
In 1953, their association spawned a unique Ferrari-Abarth, the Ferrari 166/250 MM Abarth. The car raced in various international events including the legendary Mille Miglia. More recently the ties have been strengthened, with Abarth supplying the exhaust systems for Ferraris.
Then there's the Tributo. Only 120 of the cars have been imported to Australia and only 20 of them remain, with a list price of $69,000 pipped only by the Mini Goodwood at $74,500.
Powered by a turbocharged 1.4-litre four cylinder engine, the Tributo can reach a speed of 225km/h and sprints from 0-100km/h in less than 7 seconds. The engine is a 1.4-litre Turbo T-Jet 16v, tuned to develop more than 132kW of power.
In comparison the donor Abarth 500 Esseesse produces 118kW. The turbocharged four is combined with a 5-speed MTA robotised manual gearbox, with change paddles that reduce shift times. And, get this, they found room under the back for four tailpipes - count them.
The Ferrari Tributo is an impressive package, with plenty of carbon fibre garnishes, combination cloth and suede leather trim, contrast stitching, high-sided Sabelt race seats and an instrument panel specially made by Jaeger that is inspired by typical Ferrari instrumentation. At the same time there's plenty of cheap, nasty black plastic in evidence too.
What's it go like? It's a tight fit but not as bad as anticipated, nor is the ride as harsh as we were led to expect. As the engine climbs above 3000 revs the bi-modal Monza exhaust develops a much throatier, more satisfying sound with the occasional crackle just like a real Ferrari.
The robotised, single-clutch manual is a pain the butt, especially in traffic but delivers rapid changes in a straight line, with a surprising amount of mid-range grunt. Changing to manual mode and lifting off the throttle helps to smooth things out.
Following a regular Abarth Essesse up a winding hill, we were surprised how easily the Tributo kept pace. It's got plenty of grip in corners with a surprising amount of punch out of corners, and four-pot Brembos that wipe off speed quickly.
Yes siree. It was worth the wait. The Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari is a genuine pocket rocket, if an expensive one. It's so small, maybe they won't miss one?
Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari
Warranty: 3 years roadside assist
Engine: 1.4-litre 4-cylinder, 132kW/230Nm
Transmission: 5-speed seq manual auto-single clutch, front wheel drive
Thirst: 6.5L/100Km, 151g/km C02
|Tributo Ferrari||1.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTOMATED MAN||$19,500 – 27,170||2012 Abarth 695 2012 Tributo Ferrari Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data