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Thursday 17th May 2012

Driven: Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari

Ferrari is well known for branding up any old bit of merchandise it thinks it can flog to its fans, Abarth 500s included



First seen in 2009, 'gifted' to Ferrari team drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa (don't they look chuffed...) and drawing a tenuous link between Abarth's proud sporting past and the fact Ferrari is part of the Fiat empire, the Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari is a curious little beast.

Chin up boys and think of the pay cheque
Chin up boys and think of the pay cheque
Launched to great fanfare in 2010 as a highly exclusive take on the Abarth 500 theme, by August last year Fiat had in fact taken orders for nearly 1,700 examples. So not actually that exclusive. And less so now there's a Maserati branded version too. And somewhat pricey, at over £30K. Hot hatch exotica for the discerning petrolhead or brand prostitution in the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi league? PH got its hands on one to find out.

The predictable truth of the matter is it's more Ferrari inspired than Ferrari built. Not that there's anything wrong with using the Ferrari name to your advantage, but Fiat has asked big money for what is essentially a bog-standard Abarth 500 1.4-litre turbo that's had a bit of a tickle to produce another 20hp for what the spec sheet coyly describes as "over 180hp".

Ferrari badges, but that's where it ends
Ferrari badges, but that's where it ends
Mmm, stripes...
In the metal there is an unmistakable sense this isn't any ordinary 500 after all. Firstly, it's been given a Scuderia Red paint job with a de rigueur dollop of racing stripes, extra venting in the bodywork, carbon door mirrors and a set of 17-inch Corsa Grey alloy wheels. Springs and dampers are 'strengthened' to handle the mighty power and front disc diameter increased to 284mm and gripped by four-pot Brembo calipers to keep it all in check. There's also a variable pressure 'Record Monza' exhaust which, just like a proper Ferrari (OK, not a lot like a proper Ferrari...), increases with volume as the revs rise, in this case beyond 3,000rpm. To further justify the price there are Sabelt leather-clad seats, branded aluminium pedal trimmings and, just behind the steering wheel, shift paddles for the Abarth five-speed semi-automatic Competizione gearbox.

All in all then, it appears to be a serious-looking tool and the smartest Fiat 500 you'll ever likely to sit in.

The only nod for the gearbox is when you shift
The only nod for the gearbox is when you shift
Starting it up, and the 1.4 T-Jet engine wakes-up with a glorious raspy noise. Selecting the gears is either via the manual mode (a la the flappy paddles) or simply leave it in auto and let it do its own thing. And here's the problem. It's hard to like this gearbox. There's an unacceptable time lag between gear changes - more prevalent in auto - and as the Competizione transmission snatches the next cog there's a neck-snapping jolt. In effect, you end up driving around the gearbox, feathering the throttle to avoid having your head ripped off your shoulders. Which ruins any sense of fluidity in the driving experience, which is a shame because once you learn to tame the transmission there lurks a very competent little car.

Designer labels
The engine is torquey enough and readily rasps up to its redline (marked on Jaeger dials, natch), which is good news for acceleration - 0-62mph time is "under" seven seconds - although it does seem to run out of puff beyond 90mph (achieved in a different location from the photos of course - Ed.), which is well below its published top speed of 139mph. The ride is super stiff, which is all well and good if you happen to be ragging a hot lap out of it, but for everyday driving it does become a little irksome. Overall there's feistiness in this car that makes you want to forgive its awful gearbox though.

Proud badges united in ... marketing
Proud badges united in ... marketing
There were only ever 152 right-hand drive models destined for the UK, and most of these have now been sold. With that said, if you do fancy owning one there are still a few unregistered 695s about, but you will need to be act quickly. Alternatively, you could always save yourself a wad of cash and buy a red Abarth, have it chipped and stick a Ferrari badge on the side. Which, after all, is what Fiat did in the first place.

 

 

Thanks to Joe Macarifor the loan of the car.


ABARTH 695 TRIBUTO FERRARI
Engine:
1,368cc turbo 4-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed automated manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 180@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 185@3,000rpm
0-62mph: 7sec
Top speed: 139mph
Weight: 1,070kg
MPG: 43.4mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 155g/km
Price: £29,600

Photos: Max Earey








DannyCobbs
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Author Discussion

KTF

Original Poster:

2,479 posts

33 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
It cant have been that bad an idea as Maserati are having a go as well:

http://www.meridien.co.uk/detail?template=/meridie...

tbc

2,577 posts

58 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
£30k for a Fiat 500

i would struggle to justify spending £10k on one

what next a Tributo Lancia?

Chapppers

4,052 posts

74 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
The reason this is OK and the Cygnet is not is because the Cygnet isn't called a "Tribute Aston Martin" it's called an "Aston Martin"

court

929 posts

99 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
I love the tributo, esp with an A500 in the household. But why did they have to give it that awful box?

You know why it gets such bad press? Because its the same gearbox as the Alfa Selespeed - and it had the same issues 12 years ago!!!

Arun_D

1,896 posts

78 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
Had an automated manual Abarth as a courtesy car a while back when my Exige was in for work, didn't find the transmission nearly as much of a pain (granted it wasn't a Tributo, so don't know if it is calibrated differently). You quickly realise you have to lift on an upshift, and by the time you've let off the throttle and pulled the paddle (simultaneously), you can immediately re-apply the throttle and find it's already engaged in the next gear. No jolting, no fuss. It turns into a quick rocking of your right foot to effect a perfectly fluid change in no time at all.

In fact, they had a 695 Tributo at the dealership in a gorgeous blue, I was mightily suprised by the two-piece brake discs, like the one in the article!











Edited by Arun_D on Thursday 17th May 15:15

Advertisement

Chicane-UK

3,419 posts

68 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
It does look superb and I dont doubt it's a riot to drive but I just can't imagine who'd spend £30k on one of these, rather than something like a nearly new Boxster or a Golf R or something. Insanity.

MonkeyMatt

5,237 posts

90 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
tbc said:
£30k for a Fiat 500

i would struggle to justify spending £10k on one

what next a Tributo Lancia?
Maserati actually! wink

300bhp/ton

29,629 posts

73 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
I like the look of this and Fiat 500's in general. But how on earth is it really worth anything like £30? Surely you'd have to be completely mental to spend that kind of money on one! eek

melvster

6,572 posts

68 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
I would rather have this over an Aston Cygnet but i would not buy either. This is much better value and probably more fun if your in the market for a 500 Abarth.




http://beta.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/...

court

929 posts

99 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
Pretty much all the trinkets on this car you can order from Abarth for your standard car. Say a base car is £14.5k with no options, the brakes, wheels, suspension, remap is £4100 + fitting. The Record Monza exhaust is £900, the seats are approx £2000. £1k for the MTA transmission. Add the climate, xenons, unique paint etc and we're not too far from £30k

stephen300o

13,593 posts

111 months

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Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
Skirting around the boring'it's really expensive etc', I'll just say it's a really nice car, with some lovely little touches.

tomv1to

108 posts

50 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
court said:
Pretty much all the trinkets on this car you can order from Abarth for your standard car. Say a base car is £14.5k with no options, the brakes, wheels, suspension, remap is £4100 + fitting. The Record Monza exhaust is £900, the seats are approx £2000. £1k for the MTA transmission. Add the climate, xenons, unique paint etc and we're not too far from £30k
If you shop around and are willing to trade your original seats in, I have seen some Abarth Dealerships offer the Sabelts for as little as £500 plus fitting.

I had the standard Esseesse kit, and to be honest, although I never took it on a track, I felt the brakes were more than adequate, and that was almost half the price of the 695 esseese kit.

I don't think you get enough from the Ferrari Abarth Tributo 695 to justify its price. Maybe if they had taken out the rear seats and made it mid engine and rear wheel drive, but as it stands, I would feel hard pressed to justify the 695 over a standard 500 SS. I had one, and I miss it everytime I think of it, after almost 2 years of ownership the only real thing I felt it could have done with was a better gear box (I had the manual.) Everything else was perfection and the amount of equipment that you get as standard is incredible. If I were to chose one of these over any of the other super mini's it would be the Abarth everytime. There may be other supermini's which are more competent but none of the others can match the 500 in terms of character.

I do kind of wish that Fiat would stop messing around with special editions of the Abarth 500's and make 180bhp a tuning option on the standard Abarth though.

RichTBiscuit

403 posts

34 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
tbc said:
£30k for a Fiat 500

i would struggle to justify spending £10k on one

what next a Tributo Lancia?
The Tributo Lancia involves sticking Chrysler Badges on your 500, and then coming up will loads of marketing bullst telling everyone how American it is.

wink

pb63

192 posts

46 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
nooooooooooo. Bit better than a Cygnet...but not much

davepoth

22,940 posts

82 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
tbc said:
£30k for a Fiat 500

i would struggle to justify spending £10k on one

what next a Tributo Lancia?
No, Lancia already have their own uglified car on the Fiat Panda platform.

http://www.chrysler.co.uk/ypsilon

RDMcG

8,519 posts

90 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
The Ferrari 599 Tributo Fiat is available for an equivalent % discount to the uplift for the Fiat 500 Tributo Ferrari. Debadging optional.

court

929 posts

99 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
tomv1to said:
If you shop around and are willing to trade your original seats in, I have seen some Abarth Dealerships offer the Sabelts for as little as £500 plus fitting.

I had the standard Esseesse kit, and to be honest, although I never took it on a track, I felt the brakes were more than adequate, and that was almost half the price of the 695 esseese kit.

I don't think you get enough from the Ferrari Abarth Tributo 695 to justify its price. Maybe if they had taken out the rear seats and made it mid engine and rear wheel drive, but as it stands, I would feel hard pressed to justify the 695 over a standard 500 SS. I had one, and I miss it everytime I think of it, after almost 2 years of ownership the only real thing I felt it could have done with was a better gear box (I had the manual.) Everything else was perfection and the amount of equipment that you get as standard is incredible. If I were to chose one of these over any of the other super mini's it would be the Abarth everytime. There may be other supermini's which are more competent but none of the others can match the 500 in terms of character.

I do kind of wish that Fiat would stop messing around with special editions of the Abarth 500's and make 180bhp a tuning option on the standard Abarth though.
Oh, I agree, you're definitely paying the Ferrari tat tax. Also, I agree with the rest of your points - esp the manual gearbox, again a Alfa 147 unit that's way past it's sell by date. The gearbox has another negative - there's so little room underneath that it gives A500 the turning circle of the QM2. That said, I love our one (it's the missus' car really) and find any excuse to drive it!

Time for gratuitous shot?



tomv1to

108 posts

50 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
court said:
Time for gratuitous shot?

Oooh, stealth black. I like it. You must have surprised quite a few people at the lights.

anything fast

976 posts

47 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
£30,000

OK there is being different and there is just being stupid! and you would have to be a real badge w-h-o-r-e to buy one of these. Like the ppl who buy a Ferrari T shirt for £100, but drive a Golf..

I apologise for my strong views, but this car seems like badge engineered highway robbery.

SRM355

104 posts

42 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
Crazy money they ask for the Tributo and the gearbox is clunky and horrid - shame they don't off it with the manual which is a great gearbox and slick.

I ran a 500 Abarth for two years and loved it - really fun car to own and it seemed to get a lot of interest from petrolheads! For under £20k you can have a great all round brand new car. IMO perfect spec below which should cost under £20k all in brand new;

Tick most of the option boxes with your new car, so 17" wheels, leather interior, climate control, sunroof, etc. The standard car has a load of kit as standard like hands free bluetooth, upgraded speaker system including underseat subwoofer (sounds great). With leather and the sunroof the car feels pretty expensive inside.

Then go for the following dealer fit stuff (genuine Abarth parts).
Koni FSD damper kit - makes the ride much much better - standard dampers biggest downside of car
Record Monza exhaust (same as Tributo) - really nice sound and not intrusive at all - similar level of noise to standard exhaust but sounds a lot nicer, but saying that the standard exhaust sounds great too.

MORE POWER - don't bother with the Esseesse kit - instead fit a TMC motorsport ECU override box for about £300(gives a realistic 160 bhp, maybe 165 bhp tops) and it's not a fixed re-map - just a plug in device that overrides the ECU and can be installed and removed easily - seems to be the most popular upgrade by most owners on the Abarth forum. Just as good as a re-map but very easy to put the car back to standard again by removing the unit. I've driven a car with 180+ bhp and it's not that much quicker than a 160 bhp car, bang for your buck 160 bhp more than enough for fun factor.

The standard brakes are very good so not sure the Esseesse cross drilled items are really needed.

Only my opinion - did a load of research when I ran my car, so just passing on my findings.... tempted to buy another one now after writing this! Such a great little fun car, bang for your buck and to own something with character and feels special, it's very difficult to beat....

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