The Forbidden-Fruit 695 EsseEsse Gives the Fiat 500 Abarth More Sting

by Gabrielle DeSantis

Besides not selling it in the US, Fiat made the 500 an EV for 2021. It’d be natural, therefore, to think that this would spell the end for the sporty Abarth trim. But as it turns out, that’s not the case. The Fiat 500 Abarth is still alive and well overseas, where the hot hatch gets even hotter variants. And the limited-edition Abarth 695 EsseEsse is the hottest of them all.

Even before it was canceled in the US, we never got the fastest Fiat 500 Abarth models

2012 US-market Fiat 500 Abarth | Fiat

To be sure, the US-market Fiat 500 Abarth is noticeably faster, sharper, and more powerful than the standard 500. Its 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder puts out 160 hp, 59 more than the regular car. And compared to the standard 500, the 500 Abarth has sportier suspension, larger four-wheel disc brakes, sport seats, and more standard features.

But while the Fiat 500 Abarth offered more performance than the standard car, it wasn’t the most extreme 500 available. It’s just that US customers never got a chance to buy these spicier models. And there were more than a few of them.

Back in the 1960s, Abarth tuned a variety of cars, including Fiat 500s. In the 500’s case, Abarth gave it increasingly larger engines, turning it first into a 595 and later a 695. So, when it came time to make modern versions of those cars, Abarth reused the names.

Technically, the Abarth 595 is the same as the US-market Fiat 500 Abarth in terms of power output. However, the 595 Competizione makes 178 bhp and packs an optional limited-slip differential, Evo says, something the US-market 500 Abarth never offered. And it also offers Koni shocks and Brembo front brakes.

Then there’s the Abarth 695. Its 1.4-liter engine makes up to 187 bhp thanks to an upgraded turbocharger, intercooler, and exhaust, Autocar notes. And it offers two different LSD-equipped transmissions. With the six-speed manual, the Abarth 695 has 184 lb-ft of torque; with the dog-leg five-speed manual, it has 199 lb-ft of torque. Plus, it packs a reworked suspension system, wider track, larger brakes, grippier tires, and OZ wheels.

And now, the Abarth 695 is getting a new limited-edition trim: the 2021 Abarth 695 EsseEsse.

The 2021 Abarth 695 EsseEsse is “the fastest…Fiat 500,” Motor1 says

The rear 3/4 view of a black-and-white 2021 Abarth 695 EsseEsse next to a brick building
2021 Abarth 695 EsseEsse rear 3/4 | Fiat

Even if they don’t know it, US-market Fiat 500 Abarth owners are already familiar with the term ‘EsseEsse.’ When the modern 500 Abarth first launched overseas in 2008, it only came with 133 hp. However, the optional EsseEsse kit bumped that up to 160 hp. Therefore, technically all NA-market 500 Abarths are EsseEsse-spec models.

The 2021 Abarth 695 EsseEsse doesn’t get more power than the ‘standard’ 695. Its 178 bhp and 184 lb-ft of torque are the same as the 595 Competizione, TopGear explains. But thanks to an aluminum hood and titanium Akrapovic exhaust system, it weighs 22 pounds less than the latter car, Motor1 reports. Plus, it comes with Koni FSD shocks, Sabelt sport seats, Brembo brakes, and an interior trimmed in Alcantara and carbon fiber. Even the shift knob is made of carbon fiber.

But the 2021 Abarth 695 EsseEsse’s most notable feature is arguably its rear spoiler. It’s adjustable from 0 degrees (flat) to 60 degrees, with the latter being the best setting for maximum downforce. Though if you want to hit the claimed 6.7-second 0-62 mph time, 0 degrees is the way to go.

It’s expensive, but (sadly) not for us

A black-and-white 2021 Abarth 695 EsseEsse goes around a racetrack corner at speed
2021 Abarth 695 EsseEsse | Fiat

As of this writing, Fiat hasn’t released pricing details for the 2021 Abarth 695 EsseEsse. But Top Gear estimates it should start at roughly the equivalent of $41,500. And potential buyers will have to act fast because Abarth is only making 1,390 examples.  

Sadly, potential US buyers are out of luck, because the 695 EsseEsse, like the other new Fiat 500 models, isn’t coming here. To be fair, that doesn’t mean modifying a US-market 500 Abarth to a similar extent is impossible. It’s just that getting a similar sting fresh from the Fiat factory here isn’t possible.

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