Sounds great, cheap lease deals
Extremely firm ride, ageing interior, infotainment that makes Ceefax look cutting-edge
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.
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?
There used to be, but in this age of supply issues the line-up has been slimmed down lately. The range kicks off with the standard 595, which starts at £23,225, then you've got the Turismo version for £24,725. That's it.
Wait! No it isn't. You can also get convertible versions of both, which cost around £2.5k more apiece. And there's the racecar-inspired, stripped-out 695 too, although we won’t deal with that in this particular review.
What’s under that teeny bonnet, then?
Both 595s get a little 1.4-litre turbocharged four-pot with 163bhp; previously there were 143bhp and 178bhp models, but no longer. Both are connected to a five-speed manual gearbox and both only send power to their front wheels.
Sounds like a bit of an old-school setup these days, doesn’t it? And Abarth duly proved as much when it taught TG the fine art of the handbrake turn (on closed roads, of course) a little while back. Such fun. Click on ahead to the Driving tab for more info.
Does Abarth make anything else at the moment?
It does. For a while the 595 and 695 pocket rockets were the only cars it bothered with after the two-seat 124 Spider went off sale, but now that Fiat has made an electric version of the 500, Abarth has created its own interpretation: the 500e. As you'd expect, it gets a more exuberant motor for electron-based thrills.
What's the verdict?
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 Hyundai i20N or (soon to be deceased) Fiesta ST, but at least the lease deals allow the Abarth to feel a little cheaper.