I wonder what Carlo Abarth would have made of the most recent Fiat 500 to bear his name? I loved the looks and the power of the 160bhp £16,105 Esseesse version I tried and most of all I appreciated the fact that all the Fiat badges have been deleted, just as Ferrari did with the original 246GT Dino.
When you first drive it, you can’t help but fall for its relentlessly enthusiastic approach to the open road. It’s as fast as it looks and delivers its performance in the frenetic manner you might expect or even hope for from a car wearing the scorpion badge.
After a while, however, I did start to tire of it. Like too many hotted-up versions of cooking cars, it feels oversprung and under-damped. It corners flat and fast but show it an undulating B-road and the resulting bounce and pitch reveals only limited body control which, while never even disconcerting let alone dangerous, can frustrate your attempts to enjoy this otherwise largely delightful car to the full.
But perhaps the bigger shame is that Ford has no plans to do to the Ka what Fiat has done to this 500, despite the fact that both are structurally identical. A normal Ka is less attractive but far better to drive than a standard 500, and a Ka with Abarth running gear but Ford tuning might be better even than my current favourite pocket rocket, the RenaultSport Twingo.