Today I’m driving an Abarth 695 Rivale for a review, what a very interesting test drive! This is not the first Abarth 500 that we have the pleasure to review. I’ve have already tested the 595 Competizione and I must say that there are many similarities but also lots of differences from that one.
Jeremy Clarkson, in his review of the Abarth 695 Rivale, compares this car with a luxury watch. You already have a watch on your wrist, it works well, maybe it’s even a gift and has an emotional value. In spite of everything, you find yourself looking at an high priced watch with interest, in the shop window of the airport duty-free, with the desire to buy it. According to Jeremy Clarkson, the Abarth 695 Rivale is something very similar to that watch, you do not know why but you want it, you would buy it instantly if it could be possible.
I perfectly agree with him, but unfortunately, all the Abarth 695 Rivale have been already sold! Everyone looks at it, everyone wants it. Impossible to not feel observed driving this small Cinquecento. Those who don’t watch, will do it soon, thanks to the sound of this Abarth 695 Rivale! The combination of colors, materials of the interior, all recalls the Italian style that distinguishes both the Riva brand and the Cinquecento. The Abarth 695 Rivale is indeed a tribute to the Riva brand, a famous luxury boat manufacturer. Riva was founded in 1842 and represents one of the Italian excellences for the production of yachts. Like the Abarth brand, Riva has always shown great capacity for innovation, with an eye to the past and its origins. And here’s the birth of Abarth 695 Rivale, with many small details, created to give the feeling of a custom built car.
To better talk about this car we choose a special location. We are in fact at Villa Incontri, in the heart of Florence. Very close to the city centre, this 16th century Villa now houses a hotel personally managed by the Marquis Incontri. A very special place, a beautiful oasis of peace, so close to the crowdy centre of Florence. And here we are to admire “our” Abarth 695 Rivale in this wonderful context. Let’s start from the outside. The bodywork is presented in a double colouring. The double tone Blue and Grey Riva are separated by a “Waterline” in Aquamarine colour. The intent is to give the idea of the sky that meets the grey asphalt, separated by a very thin line that would represent the sea.
The effect at sight is beautiful, both in the evening and during the day, illuminated by the sun, I think it remains one of the most beautiful colours combination that I have ever seen on a car. The canvas roof folds up to the boot making this Abarth 695 Rivale a full-fledged convertible. Following the canvas roof up to the boot, there is a moulding inspired by the grids widely used in the nautical world. The xenon headlights, the beautiful grey SuperSport wheels with black Brembo callipers and the Akrapovic exhaust complete this exclusive look.
Getting onboard the vehicle, pushing a button, you can open the blue hood and let the sun’s rays enter into the vehicle. The first detail that attracts the attention entering on board is definitely the mahogany that surrounds the interior. Door sills, dashboard and even some details of the steering wheel, are covered with this precious wood. At the right of the dashboard, the Riva brand stands out.
To remember this limited series we find the 695 Rivale logo also in the headrests of the blue leather seats. At the center of the dashboard stands the UConnect Radio 7’’ navigator which, finally, brings in an Abarth the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technologies in a system with a modern look.
Talking about LCD screens, for the driver, all the driving information are shown in a display with a dedicated layout. Lots of details to discover and admire.
Turning the key and diving on a beautiful winding road, some difference from the 595 Competizione are present. The engine is the same, a 1.4 Turbo petrol delivering 180hp, the major differences comes from the gearbox. From the manual gearbox of the previous review, we pass to the automatic Abarth transmission. Subject of many discussions on the enthusiast’s forums I was very curious to have the opportunity to test it. For the first few km the differences in terms of gear change speed compared to a double-clutch transmission are evident. Personally, I found a good compromise driving in “Sport” mode with the gearbox always on “M”, in partcular personally changing the gears through the paddles on the steering wheel.
Surely, I would choose for the manual version but with that configuration the gear change times are reduced and are always accompanied by some bangs that come from the Akrapovic exhaust. On this exhaust it’s worth spending few words. Honestly, it surprised us! If the Record Monza exhaust, tested on the 595 Competizione, was really loud, the Akrapovic it’s definitely a step forward. The first striking aspect is design. The 4 terminals become 2 and they are larger and coated in carbon. The sound then improves, is louder, more aggressive and even the pops and bangs become noisier and more frequent!
Impossible not to attract attention with the sound of this Abarth 695 Rivale. On the road, regarding the driving dynamics, I did not perceive any differences compared to the 595 Competizione. Keep in mind that chassis, brakes and engine are the same! As a positive final note, I really appreciated the Michelin Pilot Sport tires, equipped on the 695 Rivale, which proved to be impeccable.
In conclusion, the Abarth 695 Rivale combines the qualities we have seen on 595 Competizione with a unique and really beautiful design. The price is certainly high, but since all have already been sold is not a problem that you have to ask yourself! We can only reccomend you, as already done, the 595 Competizione, perhaps with the Akrapovic exhaust and the new Uconnect 7” navigator, waiting for a new limited series that we cannot wait to drive!
Article: Edoardo Mascalchi
Pictures: Edoardo Mascalchi, Federico Schipani