Abarth 595 - Used

Car Review

Abarth 595 Esseesse, front
Abarth 595 Esseesse, rear
Abarth 595 Esseesse, interior
Abarth 595 Esseesse, interior
Abarth 595 Esseesse, interior
Abarth 595 Esseesse, exhausts
Abarth 595 Esseesse, detail
Abarth 695 Rivale, front
Abarth 695 Rivale, interior

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.

The biggest engine in the standard Fiat 500 used to be the 1.3 diesel, but with added turbo, the Abarths get the much more powerful T-Jet 1.4 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 a best of 42mpg, while the 180, which is only fitted to certain models, drops the 60 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!

There are also a number of special editions with names like Rivale and Scorpionero that come with special paint and added kit over the standard cars.

Some celebrate special dates and associations of the Abarth company, which although now owned by Fiat, was originally a world renowned sports and racing car maker.

The performance is excellent to electrifying in all of them and 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 turbo boost 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.

Unfortuneately there is 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 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.

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.

Equipment in the mid-range Turismo 595 includes alloys, climate control, traction control, plenty of airbags ( 5* safety rating), parking sensors, sports seats, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, hill start assist, DAB stereo and leather.

Pay about £12,550 for a '19 19-reg 595 Tourismo with 165bhp, or £17,250 for a '21 21-reg 695 Competizione with 180bhp.

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