Abarth 595C Turismo

1.4 T-Jet

Abarth 595C Turismo, front
Abarth 595C Turismo, front
Abarth 595C Turismo, front
Abarth 595C Turismo, front
Abarth 595C Turismo, front
Abarth 595C Turismo, front
Abarth 595C Turismo, interior
Abarth 595C Turismo, seats
Abarth badge
Abarth 595C Turismo, rear
Abarth 595C Turismo, front
Abarth 595C Turismo, side
Abarth 595C Turismo, pedals

FOR those of a certain age - old enough to remember the late 70s and the World Rally Championship of those days - the Abarth name and Scorpion badge is enough to bring on a twinge of excitement.

That good name was abused during the 1980s so its revival since 2007, as an independent unit under the control of Fiat has been good to see.

Using the fun and funky Fiat 500 as a donor model was a particularly good move and it's been welcomed with open arms in the UK where Abarth had its best ever year in 2016, selling 3,966 cars - up 45 per cent on the previous year.

The charge was led by the new Abarth 595, a sweet combination of performance and Italian style, which arrived on these shores in May priced from just £15,090 on the road.

Available as a hatchback or convertible, it comes in 595, mid-range 595 Turismo and hardcore 595 Competizione trims.

The upgraded 595 has a new, more muscular front complete with new over-sized air intake which adds to its sport menace but does serve a cooling function too.

The rear has also been tweaked and there's a new, more pronounced diffuser.

Specific bumper inserts have also been created for each trim level - matching body colour on the Turismo. There's also new satin chrome trim and unique 17-inch alloys over new cross-drilled and ventilated front discs whose calipers come in optional red and yellow.

The interior has had a complete refurb as well with more Alcantara and carbon fibre. It remains, fresh, modern and extremely stylish.

The seats are sportingly snug with extra lateral support but remain comfortable. There's a vogueish flat-bottomed steering wheel for more sporty driving though it feels big compared to the size of the 595.

The dash is also specially syled - matte grey in the Turismo - to each trim.

All versions are equipped with the Uconnect five-inch DAB radio with touchscreen and Uconnect Live services as standard.

While there's plenty of leg and head room upfront, the rear is cramped and best only used by children on long journeys. The boot is also on the small side at 185-litres though the rear seats can be folded down.

However, it's an Abarth, so the following is perhaps much more pertinent.

At its beating heart is a 1.4-litre T-Jet petrol engine, which delivers 163bhp and 230Nm of peak torque in Turismo mode. It sprints from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 135mph.

The five-speed manual gearbox fitted as standard is slick, sporty and a pleasure to use, though an automatic with paddleshifts is available for those who prefer.

Now, there are some who might turn up their noses at a hot hatch with such a seemingly small amount of power.

But, as sports car manufacturing has proved many times over the years, more power doesn't always mean more fun.

However, the 595 is fun to drive, sharp and nimble with its road-holding and handling aided by its special Koni FSD shocks, and its raucous exhaust note sounds great.

A bonus worth remembering is that, because of its size and low weight, its economy hasn't been severely hampered in the desire to squeeze out more driving thrills.

Yes, as you would expect, the suspension is firm - not teeth-shatteringly so - but enough to make life on our more unkempt roads a little uncomfortable. That's always the payback you have to take with this sort of model but the 595 is also quite refined in its way.

There's some noise from its 17-inch tyres but wind noise is kept to a minimum. Even in the convertible - a £2,000 premium over the tin top - the soft-top keeps out the outside world extremely well.

FAST FACTS

Abarth 595C Turismo 1.4 T-Jet

Price: £20,290

Mechanical: 163bhp, 1,368cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 135mph

0-62mph: 7.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 47.1

Insurance Group: 33

C02 emissions: 139g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

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