- Excellent performance
- Diesel and petrol engines
- Great interior technology
- Uncomfortable seats
- Not spacious
- Slow acceleration
What's the Abarth 595 like?
The Fiat 500 looks neat and sweet – the perfect town and occasional long journey small, economical car. But the Abarth 595 and 695 that are based on it look pumped up as if they’ve been on steroids.
While I was testing one a couple of years ago, a young guy in a Fiesta insisted on sitting about eight feet off my rear bumper for a couple of miles, forcing me to allow braking space for him as well as myself.
He was oblivious to the danger, looking all around and paying little attention to the road.
Then, as so often happens, the road ahead cleared. I was ready with a quick down change, and the hooligan of an Abarth 695 I was driving roared away and left him wondering where I’d disappeared to!
The 595 and 695 are Abarth’s answer to the Ford Fiesta ST or Mini Cooper S and come with plenty of added attitude.
Design and Equipment
There are a number of special editions with names like Rivale and Scorpionero that come with special paint and added kit over the standard cars.
The driving position is such that taller drivers are unlikely to want one, rear leg and headroom mean those seats are only suitable for children, and the small boot doesn’t take much luggage.
Equipment in the mid-range Turismo 595 includes alloys, climate control, traction control, plenty of airbags (5-star safety rating), parking sensors, sports seats, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, hill start assist, DAB stereo and leather.
Driving Experience and Practicality
The performance's excellent to electrifying in all of them, and the power keeps on coming as you change up through the gears.
Although the continued urge doesn’t diminish, it feels quite linear after an initial kick in the back as the turboboost comes in.
The result is an absolute hoot, with tremendous verve and brilliant response backed up by superb brakes and crisp, nimble handling helped by sharp, responsive steering.
Unfortunately, there's a downside in that the level of comfort is quite badly affected by the hard sports suspension.
But I would venture to suggest you don’t buy an Abarth for its comfort and are quite happy to put up with that.
The biggest engine in the standard Fiat 500 used to be the 1.3-litre diesel, but with added turbo, the Abarths get the much more powerful T-Jet 1.4-litre petrol.
Power ranges from 140 to 180bhp, so as you can imagine in such a small light car, performance is excellent. The T-Jet 140 reaches 60 miles an hour from a standstill in 7.6 seconds and is rated at 43 miles per gallon.
The 160 brings the sprint down to just over 7 seconds and gives the best of 42mpg, while the 180, which is only fitted to certain models, drops the 60mph time to 6.6 seconds and can do 47mpg.
This engine is standard in the range topping Essesse and Competizione, and they also gain higher spec including Brembo brakes, Koni suspension, a limited slip differential and a special exhaust with no less than four tailpipes.
Find your Abarth 595 your way with CarStore
All that said, it’s a delight to drive if you enjoy your motoring like me, and one of these days I may well buy one just for fun.
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