Review: Abarth 595 Competizione

Review: Abarth 595 Competizione
Review: Abarth 595 Competizione

Can a revamp keep the baby Abarth ahead?

It’s a supermini, but it’s not as mini as the original. Put a current Abarth 595 against the original 1970 Abarth 595 SS and you’re looking at a car that currently weighs over 1000kg that used to weigh under 500kg.

On the other hand, while size has increased and weight has gone up by more than double, power has gone up by four times so let’s keep things in perspective.

The jump from 500 to 595 across the range (except for the 695 Biposto) is accompanied by a not so much a jump in power as a very small shuffle of 5bhp. That’s for the ‘lesser’ base and Turismo models, the Competizione we’re testing here stays at 180bhp.

ABARTH 595 COMPETIZIONE
Price: £20,290
Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Power: 178bhp
Torque: 184lb/ft
0-62mph: 6.7sec
Top speed: 140mph
Fuel economy: 47.1mpg combined
CO2: 139g/km

Performance Pack

In this iteration the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine actually makes more power than it does in the bigger Abarth 124 Spider, plus you get the option of a limited-slip diff as well. The LSD forms part of the Performance Pack, which for £2950 adds in the LSD, special alloys, carbon seats and other stuff including a strange metal badge on the roof. Handy if you roll it.

The differential doesn’t actually seem to do that much, so the Abarth does still push out a bit mid-turn. The 0-62mph time of 6.7sec may be marginally faster than a Ford Fiesta ST but after a corner or two the Fiesta would be up the inside and away.

Abarth 595

Mind you, and a bit of a surprise, the Koni shocks all round deliver not only a decent handling package but also a really good ride particularly at low speed. The centre of gravity still feels a bit high, but you can have fun with this car.

The engine works well and sounds brilliant through the standard Record Monza exhaust. Put the car in Sport mode and it sounds even better, while everything else firms up as well. Everything bar the manual gearchange of course, which remains a bit slow and imprecise. Given there are only five gears in there, it’s a bit of a let-down and would be better replaced by the six-speeder found in the Panda 100HP.

Abarth 595

The new interior is a big step up but we would be tempted by that Performance Pack as the seats in it really are supportive and sporty. We might also be tempted by the £600 upgrade to the seven-inch touchscreen as it’s bigger and better and brings with it sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and more.

So this new Abarth 595 is demonstrably better in many ways, and it looks good too, inside and out.

Much as we like the Competizione version, we’re not entirely sure it’s worth the upgrade over the entry version – it’s £23,240 versus £16,090 although, to be fair, we have added in the Performance Pack to the Competizione price. Budget against style and performance – the old conundrum.

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