Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione Review
Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione Review

Car Tested: Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione; Road Test No. 667

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 35.98 lakhs

The Abarth 595 is a tiny yet explosive performance Italian hatch offering pure driving fun behind the Scorpion badged wheel

Indian automobile enthusiasts are very few in number and so are the cars that are targeted at such buyers. Fiat is one of those unique brands that tugs the heartstrings of purists since the Italian carmaker largely focuses on driver involvement. They recently introduced their performance brand Abarth in India with the 595 Competizione followed by the Abarth Punto and Avventura. We still can’t get over the sting left by the Abarth Punto and we are ready to take the bigger stinger for a spin, which is none other than the Abarth 595 Competizione. It belongs to a segment with very few contenders but does it have what it takes?

Motor Quest: The Abarth 595 Competizione is a hardcore performance version of the Abarth 500, which itself is a performance version of the Fiat 500 city car. The additional benefits of the Abarth 595 over the Abarth 500 include more power, more torque from the same engine, bigger brakes, sports seats and dual-mode exhaust system.

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The smart Abarth details make it look very sporty from this angle

Exteriors – You can’t get away with the kind of attention the Abarth 595 gets on Indian roads. The exquisite Italian styling makes it stand out of the crowd while the tiny size further grabs eyeballs. I personally like the Cordolo Red colour on this hot hatch that we drove at the BIC race track. This greyish white paint job doesn’t go well with the funky character of this machine. The Abarthified sporty additions over the regular Fiat 500 include extended bumpers with wider airdams, low side skirts, rear diffuser, dual exhaust, massive 17-inch alloys and of course the Scorpion badges all around.

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The interiors are all-black and there are limited features on offer

Interiors – Sit inside the Abarth 595 and it will hug you tight in the sports seats that are track oriented. The dashboard is driver focussed and unlike the regular Fiat 500 it comes with all-black treatment for a sporty appearance. There is no fancy infotainment system screen in the centre console but a large circular instrument cluster showing a ton of information in animated style. The all-digital display shows tachometer on the left and an ‘eco index’ on the right, which shows how efficiently you are driving (do we need this in a performance car?). The instrument console also works as a display for parking sensors (no rear camera), Bluetooth connectivity and telephony settings and many more such information related to the car.

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The TFT display on the instrument cluster looks fancy yet retro

The interiors look quite sporty yet retro but lack comfort and convenience

Setting up Bluetooth is a difficult task and there is no AUX connectivity but it offers USB and CD player. The music system sounds average but anyways you would be more interested in listening to the sporty engine and exhaust note of the Scorpion. There is no automatic climate control system, which is a bummer for a car priced at a premium. Since the Indian market only gets an AMT equipped variant, there is no gearknob but instead four weird looking buttons namely 1, N, R and A/M. The front seats are manually adjustable including the steering wheel and there is no height adjust for the driver. No auto foldable ORVMs and no auto headlamps either. There is hardly any space at the rear for adults and it’s best suited for kids for short journeys. Boot space is quite accommodating considering the size of the hatch. Nor a very practical car for daily usage and neither a good place to be in if you are looking for a comfortable super premium hatch.

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Power delivery is strong and progressive all the way to the redline

Performance – The word ‘Abarth’ is all about performance, power, fun, adrenaline and many more such terms. The Abarth prefix not only adds to the aesthetic value but also changes the character of the car altogether. Powering the Abarth 595 Competizione is a 1.4-litre turbocharged T-Jet petrol engine that produces 160 horses at 5500 RPM and 230 Nm of twisting force at 3000 RPM. After a mild hint of turbo lag until around 1700 RPM, it accelerates strongly in the mid-range and from 4000 RPM the acceleration gets even more ferocious until the 6500 RPM redline. You would never feel the need of more power, though we did sometime back when we drove it at the BIC race track. Out on the road though, it’s something very different from what we experienced on the track.

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The turbo petrol is a hoot to drive with a meaty top-end grunt

The Abarth 595 never gives up on performance, keeps pulling hard

There is a Sport mode in which it produces the maximum torque of 230 Nm otherwise in the regular mode it produces only 206 Nm, which makes the acceleration a bit linear and more drivable in traffic conditions. The Sport mode offers instant throttle response and an explosive mid-range. The exhaust note has a good bass at low revs and gets raspy at the higher end but it sounds better on the outside because when you’re driving, the engine sound is more pronounced inside. The 5-speed AMT needs some time for getting used to as the pause between gear changing is significant but if you lift off the throttle between gear changes, it feels smoother and faster. It offers steering mounted paddle shifts that are more engaging and fun. 0-100 km/hr is achievable in just 7.4 seconds while the top speed is rated at 209 km/hr. The Abarth 595 is a decent cruiser as well in the top gear doing 100 km/hr at 2500 RPM. It returned around 8 km/l despite revving hard all day long. In terms of NVH, there is a lot of wind noise along with some tyre noise at high speeds.

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The Abarth 595 is eager to take on the corners and is super fun to drive

Driving Dynamics – The Abarth 595 Competizione is a gem when you talk about sporty dynamics. The hatch handles like a dream, just shoot and point and it follows your command. It also sticks like a leech around corners thanks to its well balanced chassis, stiff suspension and wide section tyres. The steering offers exactly the right feedback you want at particular speeds. It gets a tad heavy in Sport mode and feels light and nimble in the regular mode. These aspects were perfect for track conditions at the BIC but when you take it out on inconsistent roads like ours, the story is quite different.

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The handling is epic as the little Italian hatch is very flickable

The sporty Italian hatch offers oodles of fun with its fantastic handling!

The low profile tyres and taut suspension along with the stiff sports seats make it a pain driving even on expansion gaps of flyovers, imagine big potholes and bumps. You need to slow down if you see a bad patch of road otherwise either your back will break or the alloy wheels. It is best driven on smooth tarmac otherwise all that power is of no use. Braking performance comes from self-ventilated oversized 305×28 mm perforated front brake discs that were quite effective when we drove at the circuit but after getting abused all this while, the brakes on our test car felt a bit spongy and started fading on hard braking.

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The hot hatch doesn’t compromise on safety, loaded with safety tech

Safety and After Sales Service – The Fiat 500 has scored 5 stars safety rating at Euro NCAP and as expected Fiat doesn’t compromise on the safety aspect. The Abarth 595 comes with a long list of safety equipment on offer such as 5 airbags including multi-stage front airbags, driver inflatable knee bolster airbag and curtain airbags. There are race designed steel cage channels, three-mode electronic stability control, Hill Hold Control and ABS with hydraulic brake assist. There are only four exclusive dealerships for the Abarth 595 across the country – Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and New Delhi. Sadly no dealership for Mumbai, which is quite surprising. With a limited network of sales and service in India, don’t expect the after sales to be cheap and the car to be easy to maintain.

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This Abarth is targeted at a limited audience that seeks pure performance

Verdict – There’s no denying the fact that the Abarth 595 Competizione is a true hot hatch offering mouth watering driving pleasure. The little boy from Italy loves to be driven spiritedly and never goes out of breath even if you give it the beans all day. However, Fiat has priced this hatch quite optimistically and at this price point it doesn’t feel as premium as the MINI or as comfortable as the new Volkswagen Beetle. The suspension is quite stiff on our roads for daily usage, interiors lack many features for a car this premium and it scores a bit low on the practicality front. Having said that, the Abarth 595 Competizione is a performance centric machine and it excels in that department. And yes, that lovely Italian styling, we can’t get over it.

The Abarth 595 Competizione is a powerful little horse with blinkers that only knows how to deliver on the performance front but doesn’t really care about other things. Which is why it feels quite simple when it comes to premiumness and offers very little convenience for day to day driving. The Italian carmaker should consider introducing the regular Fiat 500 facelift with all the bells and whistles to woo Indian buyers at a sensible price.

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The gorgeous Italian styling turns heads instantly on our roads

What’s Cool

* Unique Italian styling and compact design catches attention instantly
* Blissful performance from the 1.4-litre turbo petrol motor
* One of the best handling cars available in India, excellent steering
* Sporty exhaust note is music to your ears
* High on specs and safety, performs exceptionally well on the track

What’s Not So Cool

* Doesn’t feel as premium and feature rich the way it’s priced
* Stiffly sprung suspension and low profile tyres a pain on rough roads
* Rear seats impractical, strictly a 2-seater

Alternatives: MINI Cooper S, Volkswagen Beetle

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The Scorpion badge does justice to the crazy performance it offers

Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione Specifications

* Engine: 1368cc, T-Jet, 4-cylinder, Turbocharged, DOHC
* Power: 160 HP @ 5500 RPM
* Torque: 230 Nm @ 3000 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed AMT
* 0-100 km/hr: 7.4 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 9 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: MacPherson Struts (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)
* Tyres: 205/40/17
* Brakes: Ventilated discs (front), Discs (rear), ABS
* Safety: Five Airbags, ABS, EBD, ESP, TCS

Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 3657 mm X 1627 mm X 1485 mm
* Wheelbase: 2300 mm
* Ground clearance: 105 mm
* Turning radius: 5.5-metres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 35-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1035 kgs

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The throaty Abarth exhaust note further grabs attention

Testers’ Note:

“The Abarth 595 Competizione isn’t meant for the faint hearted. The powerful little rocket is quite intimidating to drive with its explosive power delivery and sharp handling along with the technical AMT gearbox. It took me a while to get used to this Scorpion and you have to be very careful with the low profile tyres and low ground clearance over bumps and potholes. I drove it at the race track and instantly fell in love with it but driving in the city made me realise that it’s not meant for our kind of roads.” – Aariz Rizvi, Assistant Editor, MotorBeam.
“The hot hatch drives out the adrenaline factor with a punchy engine and handling to die for. But that is also the only thing that makes it a little too rough and stiff in the city and our Indian roads. A throaty sound note will make you downshift often and go full throttle on the Abarth 595 Competizione but this Fiat is too expensive for even rich enthusiasts to consider as most run behind much more established brands.” – Pratik Tyagi, Correspondent, MotorBeam.

Further Reading

Fiat 500 Abarth First Drive Review
Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione Track Experience