After reading the long-term test reviews of the Abarth 595 on CarAdvice, I was inspired to produce my own piece of work rating my own 2016 Abarth 595.
It's the exact-same spec vehicle as the one being tested by the CarAdvice crew, with the only difference being mine has the black duco with the red stripes and wing mirrors. It's a colour combo I chose purely out of a desire to own a black car, otherwise I can honestly say I love the red duco just as much.
The traditionalist I am has always drawn me towards cars with heritage. Initially, the sight of that beautiful modern interpretation of the Abarth scorpion badge combined with the car's name plate (595), and a desire since the launch of the first Abarth 500 Essesse here in 2011, was all the prompting I needed to go check out this machine and inevitably make the purchase.
Visually, the Abarth is fantastic. It looks incredibly sporty with the three doors, and its racing heritage really shines through with those badges, bodykit and decals. Its stance looks planted and go-kart like, and the dual double-shot exhausts at the rear mean business. Fire up the engine and the sound of those twin pipes burbling away will ensure that any car enthusiast within earshot will complement you on the little beast.
And let me tell you, for such a small and relatively cheap machine, I regularly receive complements from its many fans, be it at red lights or in shopping centre carparks. Aside from being fun to drive and relishing the go-kart-like handling that will make you smile when you give the thing a bit of a run in the backstreets of suburbia, the Abarth is very inner-city friendly, and almost every car space is an option.
Where is it not so friendly? Well, it ain’t no cruiser. You’ll probably not want to go more than two hours out of the big smoke with it. The fuel tank is incredibly tiny given it’s such a small car, and the range can even be annoying in the city. Great for people who only do short commuting, but not so good for those of us who spend a lot of time running around. Oh, and I’d have liked a space-saver spare instead of the repair kit.
A lot of reviewers mention the seating position, and I can see when you first use the car how it can feel a bit strange sitting high up. But my average frame got comfortable with it quite quickly, and even the ergonomic layout like the up-high manual gear shift – that has a sweet five-speed old-school change – now feels brilliant to me. The flat-bottom steering wheel and the sports seats all add to the racing-tuned theme nicely.
Ownership-wise, the car hasn’t given me any trouble. Everything since new has ticked over like clockwork. The 1.4-litre turbo engine is punchy and even looks great with its scorpion badge cover, but you get the feeling without the Italian badges and styling this could be any utilitarian model of mass transport-produced automobile.
Abarth has done a great job of producing a little performance machine for Italian motoring enthusiasts to enjoy and evoke some of the past we might have missed out on.
My last bit of advice would be to get the car in manual, and with the current pricing of the series-four Abarth, go for the Competizione model for that full racing experience.