Abarth 595 Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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What is it like to drive?

Start up a 595 and the first thing you’ll notice is the noise (as will most of your neighbours as it barks into life). There’s a real deep growl to the exhaust note, particularly in the Competizione with its quad-exit ‘Record Monza’ system but even in the base models too. It sounds great for a four-cylinder.

The ride is slightly less appealing. Abarth lowers the 500 and fits sports suspension, but at times you’re left wondering if they forgot to put any springs in at all. It’s rock-solid and not ideally suited to our potted British roads, with bumps crashing through the cabin. The short wheelbase means mid-corner bumps easily unsettle it too.

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What about if I really want to get going?

The scorpion button on the dash engages sport mode (neat touch) and instantly seems to double the weight of the steering. It’s properly heavy. It also allows the exhaust to flow even freer above the 3,000rpm mark for more noise.

It’s a busy thing to drive, the 595. In the 178bhp Competizione the front wheels are often scrabbling for grip and the traction control works hard to rein it all in – particularly in the wet – while the esseesse is the only one with a proper mechanical limited-slip diff. On a B-road the 595 will bump about and tigerishly follow the contours of the road.

0-62mph takes 7.8 seconds in the base car but that drops to 7.3 seconds for the 163bhp Turismo and 6.7 seconds for the Competizione and esseesse. It’s clearly not the most sophisticated thing, but at least you could never accuse it of being boring. The little five-speed gearbox isn’t bad either, and you can have fun banging through the gears on a manual box and heel and toeing downshifts. The brakes are little Brembo units on top spec versions.

Sounds great. Anything else I should know?

Motorway journeys aren’t as fun. The lack of a sixth gear means the engine is working hard at 70mph, and there’s no cruise control or any active safety features. The latter of those is probably a positive, though.

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Fuel economy is decent too – even with some spirited driving (which the Abarth actively encourages at all times) we managed to get close to the claimed 40-ish miles per gallon.

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