With lockdown restrictions still limiting showroom visits and test drives, Abarth has developed a new way of getting customers to experience their hot hatches – virtual reality test pilots.

Said to be the world’s first VR ‘test drive’ pack, it allows potential customers to try out cars from the comfort of their own home as a ‘fully immersive and exhilarating alternative’.

The process works by an expert from an Abarth dealer delivering a ‘crate’ to a customer’s home. Inside will be a virtual reality headset, which will be loaded with ‘test drive’ footage, along with a pair of Bose earphones to listen to the famous Abarth soundtrack. This will allow customers to ‘experience’ the brand’s 595 Scorpioneoro hot hatch from their homes.

When the headset is on, drivers will be guided through the car by automotive influencer Stef Villaverde, before being taken on some of the UK’s best driving roads in North Wales.

Arnaud Leclerc, managing director Fiat Chrysler Automobiles UK, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this innovative test drive approach to our customers and Abarth fans. This VR experience allows customers to enjoy the thrill of driving a 595, but from the safety of their own homes.”

The Abarth 595 Scorpioneoro is a special version of the brand’s hot hatch, which comes with a host of black and gold accents that pay homage to the brand’s classic ‘Targa Oro’ model. Limited to 2,000 units globally, it comes with a 163bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine that enables a 0-60mph time of 7.1 seconds.

Currently the virtual test drives are just being trialled with Vospers Abarth in Exteter, though if successful, will be rolled out across other retailers.