The search for a first car for me was all about finding something that was fun and unique, to be different from everyone else. I was after a hatch with a bit of poke but also economical on longer drives.
After considering cars like the Volkswagen Polo GTI, an older BMW 130i Sport and of course the Abarth. I decided the Abarth was what I was after, and here’s why. I found the Polo to be fairly generic and rather boring most of the time. I considered a BMW 130i but felt the age of the car was something that I needed to be aware of, along with the rather poor fuel economy.
Then came the decision to buy an Abarth. I love that it has so much character and is genuinely fun to drive. My Abarth has the manual transmission which is the go to, considering the MTA gearbox (single clutch automated manual gearbox) had common faults meaning the cost of maintaining it would be higher.
I love the exterior looks of the Abarth; it's cute but with some go faster stripes and the red brake callipers, they do set the car off. I’m not a fan of some of the interior, particularly the radio setup. No navigation, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto here, just a plain simple radio. It does however have Bluetooth and USB connectable music which runs through the cars electronic speedo.
The drive is simply fun. It may not be the world's fastest or best handling car but it still offers an exciting driving experience. The sound the Abarth makes is simply incredible for the type of car it is.
The manual gearbox is a joy to use, the heel-and-toe is easy due to pedal position and the gearbox is smooth around town. The clutch is heavier than a Polo GTI, however is still pretty light.
The fuel economy is pretty good too - on a freeway drive you can expect around 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres and around town usually 8L/100km, so the fuel economy for a hot hatchback is pretty good.
Despite what some people will say about a little Italian car, the Abarth has been completely reliable over my two and a half years of owning it. It has never had a fault of any kind. As long as you maintain the car as per the service booklet, you will not encounter many issues.
Practicality is good but not great. If you plan to have rear seat passengers regularly, buy a different car, however for the occasional run up the street or drop off to the train station, they are fine.
The boot is well sized for the dimensions of the car and with seats folded down can fit a good amount of cargo. If you rely on a large boot, make sure you look at an Abarth and see if the boot space suits your needs.
One of my gripes about this car is the lack of some basic technology. The lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto would deter some buyers, however my biggest gripe is that the Abarth doesn’t come with cruise control fitted. This is annoying for those who do long trips regularly, however I’m sure aftermarket cruise control could be fitted.
Many of the things I’ve talked about in this review that have been on the negative side, particularly the technology that has been updated in the Series 4 model Abarth 595 range (2017+), however there is still a lack of cruise control and I believe it was the one thing that should have been added to the updated 595 range. If you are after some of that technology, be sure to buy a Series 4 model Abarth 595.
Overall the Abarth 595 is a really fun car to own and a great car to drive. It does lack in technology and features, however if this is something you can live with, it makes one awesome experience.