Fiat finished off the Abarth-trained 500 rally in the US, but the fun-sized hot hatch still exists in Europe. They just produced a new limited-edition model called the 695 EsseEsse that is lighter and faster than the production car.
Offered exclusively as a hatchback, the 695 EsseEsse wears a redesigned hood that weighs 25% less than the standard car because it’s made of aluminum instead of steel. If you’re taking notes for a car familiarization trip to Italy, keep in mind that the new-look panel features a pair of domes not found on the standard 695. At the rear, the EsseEsse inherits a large 70th Anniversary style spoiler which can be manually adjusted from 0 to 60 degrees. When set to 60 degrees, the wing provides up to 93 pounds of additional downforce.
Abarth didn’t make major mechanical tweaks to the 695, so power comes from a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine tuned to develop 180 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It spins the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission that works with a carbon-fiber shift knob, and exhales through an Akrapovič exhaust system that is lighter than the standard 695-equipped unit. We’re told it looks better on and off the track too.
Reaching 62 mph from a stop takes 6.7 seconds, and Abarth quotes a top speed of 140 mph when the rear wing is set to 0 degrees. Koni shock absorbers ensure that EsseEsse is as exciting on a twisty road as it is on a straight line.
Abarth will make 1,390 units of 695 EsseEsse, and production will be split evenly between Scorpion Black (pictured) and Campovolo Gray. Prices haven’t been announced yet, but they don’t matter to American enthusiasts because there’s nothing to suggest the 500 and its Abarth-tuned derivatives will return to the US.
what’s in a name?
Back to 1964, when the 500 used a rear-mounted air-cooled engine and the Abarth served as the tuner, not as a sub-brand. It turned the small 500 into a sports car by increasing its two-cylinder displacement to 690 cc (42.1 cu in) and installing it with wider wheel arches, among other modifications. The end result was a 38-horsepower jeep capable of 87 mph, an incredible speed for the time.
Abarth called his creation the 695 SS, and wrote the abbreviation on the hood instead of using the two letters. It’s as if Chevrolet installed “Impala EssEss” badges on the Impala SS. Production is set at 1,000 units.