Abarth 595 Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Wednesday 29th March
The 595 is certainly feeling its age, but cheap lease deals and noisy exhausts at least make it good value fun

Good stuff

Sounds great, cheap lease deals

Bad stuff

Extremely firm ride, ageing interior, infotainment that makes Ceefax look like cutting-edge tech


What is it?

Surely you know what this is by now? The Abarth 595 (previously known as just the Abarth 500 and seemingly changed for no real reason) has been on sale in the UK since the late 2000s. Since its launch Abarth has gently tweaked things with various facelifts, but the recipe and the main ingredients have barely changed a bit.

It’s based on the Fiat 500, which even those without a passing interest in anything automotive would probably be able to tell you these days, such is the power of Roberto Giolito and Frank Stephenson’s reborn design. Abarth does add its own styling touches in the form of muscular bumpers front and rear, a rear spoiler and a brilliant-looking but likely ineffective rear diffuser. You can also have many stripes. We like stripes.

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There are a few key changes on the inside too. Click through to the Interior tab of this review to see what’s what.

Aren’t there loads of different versions?

Correct. The range kicks off with the standard 595. Prices for that one start at £18,295 if you’re buying outright, which makes it almost £2k more than the similarly-sized Volkswagen Up GTI. You do get 143bhp in the Abarth, though, while the VW makes do with just 113bhp.

In case you haven’t got all day, next up from the standard 595 is the Turismo, then the Competizione and then the lowercase esseesse. However, you can also still buy the 595 Monster Energy Yamaha, the 595 Scorpioneoro and the F595 special editions in the UK. Oh yeah, and then there’s the racecar-inspired, stripped-out 695 too, although we won’t deal with that here. Plus you can have a 595C with a rag-top roof. Many, many options.

Does Abarth make anything else at the moment?

Nope. Since the two-seat 124 Spider went off sale, Abarth has been solely focusing on its little pocket rocket city car. That’s a shame given that this is an historic brand with a back catalogue of big hits. And what will it do when Fiat takes the combustion-engined 500 off sale in a couple of years’ time? That’s a question that’ll have to remain unanswered for now.

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What’s under that teeny bonnet, then?

Ah yes, given that you’re on this page, you’ll probably be pleased to know that this isn’t an EV. Far from it. All 595s get a little 1.4-litre turbocharged four-pot with varying levels of output ranging from the aforementioned 143bhp to a punchy 178bhp. All are connected to a five-speed manual gearbox and all only send power to their front wheels. Sounds like a bit of an old-school setup these days, doesn’t it? The driving experience reflects that too. Click on ahead to the Driving tab for more info.

What's the verdict?

The 595 is certainly feeling its age, but cheap lease deals and noisy exhausts at least make it good value fun

The little Abarth is certainly feeling its age. The interior is dated and the touchscreen feels like a relic from the heady days of the late 2000s. It’s also cramped to sit in, not massively quick and the ride is ludicrously firm.

And yet, we still struggle to drive one without a giddy little smile on our faces. It’s loud, probably over-eager and just a little bit silly, but that translates to something that’s more about fun than the practicalities of life. Dynamically it won’t hold a candle to the similarly-priced (but larger) Fiesta ST and Hyundai i20N, but at least the lease deals allow the Abarth to feel a little cheaper.

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