I make no excuse for the bad puns in this review, you Sea, Yacht’ you’re looking at here is the Abarth 695C Rivale, a collaboration with Riva, makers of the iconic Aquarama speedboat, and inspired by the 56 Rivale yacht. Like all Abarth’s it brings out the fun factor, and in this case doesn’t leave you feeling all lost at sea.
Available in just one colour, a very cool two-tone Shark Grey and Riva Sera Blue, with satin chrome 17-inch alloys and a vented rear panel to complete the look, it might not look like it will sail the oceans but it certainly looks like it will happily cruise the roads. In a world of bright green, red or yellow Abarths, this special Rivale looks a bit more grown up, and priced around the £27k bracket you will need to be pretty grown up to afford it.
Climb onboard, on the Inside, you will find blue leather sports seats with embroidered logos, steering wheel, gearknob and carbon fibre dash, although an optional mahogany wood trim for the dashboard is available. The Rivale doesn’t have any go faster stripes, that would be far too distasteful for a small car that wouldn’t look out of place driving round the harbour of Monaco, what it does have is a turquoise line around its midriff, Abarth tell me this is a ‘water line’? The 695C Rivale also has all the mod cons such as an exclusive instrument panel and Uconnect 7-inch HD touch screen infotainment system bringing the latest in onboard technology – Apple CarPlay and Android Auto ready – with navigation and touch or voice controlled operation.
The inboard motor, sorry under the bonnet, is the tried and tested 1.4-litre turbo four producing 178bhp and 184lb ft, enough for a 140mph top speed and 0-62mph in 6.7secs. With it’s punchy, turbocharged torque the little Rivale moves at a far rate of knots and the Akrapović exhaust system with carbon tailpipes means there is plenty noise when you decide to put your foot down and see what the little Abarth can do.
A point and squirt car is what the Abarth is, with it’s firm set up it won’t be the most comfortable car you’re likely to drive but within a few minutes you won’t notice because what this car has in container ship loads is fun. Ask any Abarth owner and they will tell you they are just great fun to drive, probably why most owners don’t just own one but often go on to buy the next model. Around the Yorkshire roads which we tested this 695C Rivale on, it felt at home, nip and tuck around the bends, yes it wasn’t quite like riding the crest of a wave, if you caught a bump in the road you felt it but not to the point that a trip to a chiropractor was required but even if I did, I wouldn’t mind as I would gladly take the little Abarth.
Any criticism has to be aimed at the roof, the model we tested was the convertible version, hence the C in 695C. It goes down in two sections, either opening like a long sunroof or all the way, whilst driving we tried it both ways and it made no difference, the wind noise was like being caught in a storm at sea. I am sure if you are just driving round a small harbour town about 15 mph you probably look very cool and the wind noise will be zero, but get out of town and it’s just too noisy to the point I put the roof back up, which is a shame because then you miss out on the noise from that wonderful exhaust.
And it does sound good, I mean really good, especially in sport mode and with it’s Brembo brakes and Koni suspension the result is a hot hatch that goes and wants to keep going, almost like an angry dog chasing the neighbours cat, only it grips and stops better.
When you arrive back in town, thanks to it’s nimble size, as you would expect parking is a whizz, so while everyone else is driving round trying to find a bigger parking space, you’re already halfway through your espresso, and much like an espresso the little Abarth 695C Rivale packs plenty of punch, you won’t grow tired of its abilities and the fun it delivers.
So is the 695C Rivale the most sophisticated Abarth ever? Well I’m not sure, we have seen a few special edition Abarth’s in the past, each different and erm, special in their own way but one thing is certain although the Rivale might not sail across the seas it will certainly keep you entertained on your voyage and ‘Yacht’ll do nicely…