Abarth 595 Competizione Review
Crazy Stupid Love
When Fiat updated the 500 in 2016, you needed to look really closely to notice. The LED daytime running lights are the most noticeable, but the headlights, the grilles & chrome work have been changed as well. More obvious are the taillights which have a body-coloured panel in the centre now. In reality, the updates for this ‘new’ version are concerned more with enhancing the user experience via additional technology, refinement and basic functionality. And, this does improve the 500 for Generation Y.
Similarily, the latest Abarth version of the 500 has been updated along similar lines with the main benefit now being the addition of Fiat’s small 5” infotainment system which was fitted to my test car the 595 Collezione.There is also a 7″ display as an option, which is the better choice coming as it does with SatNav, DAB, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto phone compatible. A Beats audio system is also available.
Climb into the cabin & the 595’s interior gives you an immediate adrenaline surge. Shiny backed bucket seats, a new flat-bottomed steering wheel with dashboard inserts, chrome pedals & gear knob make this a very distinctive cabin. On the outside, there are new 17” alloys, a Monza sports exhaust system with four tailpipes, the new front bumper features large air intakes & the rear bumper also has new vents. Standard equipment includes an Alcantara wrapped binnacle, parking sensors, automatic climate control, dual mode record Monza exhaust system with 4 tailpipes, steering wheel in leather & Alcantra with carbon fibre detailing &4 piston fixed front painted brake callers by Brembo. My test model also featured in addition to this, Hi-Fi by BEATS, a Performance Pack & pastel red paint which added another £3,600 to the price, taking the OTR price up to £23,960.
Let’s be honest the 500 is not the most practical of cars & neither is the 595 with just about enough room for four adults for shorter journeys, It’s quite narrow, but this doesn’t equate to a lack of head or leg room which surprised me. I had to take my son & a couple of friends to a rugby match. All are 6 feet tall & the two rear seat passengers did fit in behind me & my son. The ride though could be described politely as harsh. Pot-holes are a nightmare & there are plenty in our neighbourhood. On a smooth road surface, a motorway for example, this is not a problem & enjoyment is very much the order of the day.
If you buy an Abarth, fun is what you’re looking for & fun is most certainly what you get withe the 595. Competizione packs 178bhp & comes with stiff Koni shock absorbers. It handles brilliantly. Even the harsh ride & alloys don’t spoil the enjoyment. This is a car that demands to be driven & I have to be honest, I would love to drive this every day, if not on my daily commute then just around & about. Top speed is 140 mph & the 0-62mph time of just 6.7 seconds is phenomenal for such a small car, taking me back the the Renault 5 Turbo’s of old & is almost as quick as a Golf GTi. Peak torque kicks in at 300 revs but don’t worry the 595 keeps going & going & going…
Arbarth have made the 595 a real firework to drive, but it does come with a number of caveats. It has a surprisingly large turning circle for such a small car & parking is actually not as easy as you’d expect. The front seats have the head rest’s built into them, but the way that the seats have been designed, you can’t rest your head or relax your upper back on the seats at all, which makes for a somewhat uncomfortable journey. The seats don’t adjust for height only for rake. And don’t think you can adjust the rake on the move because you can’t. The knobs on the side of the seats are only reachable with the doors open, which is typically Italian. And the boot is small.
What about fuel economy ? The petrol tank is small & with me averaging around 32 mpg on the combined, the claimed is 47.1 mpg, I had to fill the 595 twice in my 7 days in it. CO2 emissions are also high, 139g/km, so it’s not going to appeal to your company accountant. Never mind, the 595 is good enough to make the heart rule the head.
Drive it & you’ll want it. 4/5.