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Founded in 1949, Abarth & C. S.p.A. is an Italian racing car and road car maker founded by Italo-Austrian Carlo Abarth and the company are now about to enter their eighth decade of doing all sorts of things to Fiats, particularly the little 500. Over the years Abarth has offered dozens of variations on the 500, always performance-focused, and more recently special edition models have included the Abarth 695 Biposto Record, the 595 Yamaha Factory Racing Edition and the 500 Track Experience, amongst others. None of them, however, can lay claim to the title of being the “most sophisticated Abarth ever.” That distinction, according to Abarth itself, now rests on the shoulders of the 695 Rivale Special Edition.
Developed specifically to celebrate the company’s close ties to yacht maker Riva, the 695 Rivale is the physical embodiment of the premium luxury that goes into the craft of building those sea vessels. Safe to say, that the “most sophisticated Abarth ever” title fits the 695 Rivale. It’s inundated with aesthetic features that shine a big spotlight on the nautical theme of the compact car. Inside and out, the 695 Rivale is decked to the brim with luxury, the kind you expect from any one of the yachts that Riva has built during its 175-year history. The Rivale 695 doesn’t pack any power or performance upgrades, but that’s an inconsequential omission when you compare it to the quantity and quality of cosmetic additions on offer.
The Rivale is finished in two-tone Riva Sera Blue and Shark Grey with an Aquamarine double stripe running the length of the car at waistline height. The door handles are in a satin chrome finish, as are the tailgate mouldings. Specific 695 Rivale badging can also be found on the tailgate and rear bumper of the car with the Riva-inspired side grilles and the new set of 17-inch Supersport alloys finishing off the exterior look. The same level of detail extends to the cabin with Abarth's attempt to generate a sense of nautical ambience much in evidence. The dashboard appears to be Riva-style solid Mahogany, the interior leather is in a shade of Mediterranean Blue and the use of carbon fibre on the interior also extends to the kick plates.
The car is powered by a 1.4-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that produces 180bhp and 184lb.ft of torque, not huge numbers but, in a car this size, it's enough to accelerate the hatchback to 62mph in 6.7 seconds before peaking at a top speed of 140mph. An Akrapovic exhaust ensures it will no doubt be seriously aural, while Koni suspension and four-piston Brembo brakes will make for serious g-forces in all directions when driven hard. This particular car is optioned with the automatic gearbox.
Supplied new to the KSA, this 695C is one of only 175 convertibles (commemorating Riva's 175th anniversary) and is unused and offered with delivery mileage only.