Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione Review
Car Tested: 2015 Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 36.87 lakhs
The Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione is a wild Italian hatch that handles like a dream
The Scorpion is here finally and we enthusiasts are quite excited about it, aren’t we? Yes, Fiat accepts that they have delayed the launch of the Abarth brand in India. However, they have not only launched the Abarth 595 Competizione but are also ready to unleash the Punto and Avventura Abarth in the country very soon. Fiat invited us to the Buddh International Circuit to experience how the little bomb (Abarth 595) tastes like on the track. After suffering heavy Delhi traffic driving a diesel seven-seater on a hot and humid day, I reached the track with a ruffled mood. What happened next just transformed my spirit within no time.
I rushed to the pit lane soon after the conference got over and boy my eyes just got stuck on the Cordolo Red Abarth 595. That shiny red paint job contrasting with the smart black elements looks drop-dead gorgeous. The grey and white colours were interesting too but the red was pure eye candy. And how can I forget the pretty Italian styling, the cute face with those innocent eyes and the sporty little bumper. Fiat masters the design of alloy wheels that look very unique. The steeply raked hatch at the rear gets a big spoiler, smart tail lights and an aggressive diffuser with twin exhausts.
After relishing the design I quickly got behind the wheel and before the flag-off I noticed some interesting bits inside the cabin. The sporty seats are extremely comfortable and snug, the driving position is perfect and the flat-bottom steering wheel feels amazing to hold. The 7-inch TFT colour instrument panel looks quite cool and the additional boost meter just lifts the mood further. The dark interior theme adds to the performance oriented nature of the 595 Competizione. The hot hatch comes with an AMT transmission and instead of the gear knob, you get to play with some interesting little buttons – A/M, 1, N and R.
The lights went green and I was all set to exit the pit lane, which felt like a silence before the storm. I hit the tarmac and it was time to let loose the Scorpion. The 1.4-litre T-Jet came to life with 160 PS of power and 230 Nm of torque that made this little hatch gain speed rapidly and pushed me back into the seat. In the normal mode it produces 206 Nm of torque, which I never bothered to try on the race track. The quick acceleration left me spellbound and the musical exhaust note just adds to the drama. Fiat claims a 0-100 km/hr sprint of 7.6 seconds which I believe is true, as the Abarth 595 actually feels like a pocket rocket.
Tiny hatchback with so much power on tap feels like a mini sportscar
At the back straight I saw it gaining speed until 160 km/hr quite effortlessly but post that it takes time to climb furthermore. The refinement is excellent along with the aerodynamics, as the wind noise is well controlled at high speeds. The only let-down in the performance is the 5-speed AMT gearbox that doesn’t let you feel in full control, especially on a race track. In the auto mode, it is fairly clever to sense the need to change cogs but when it does shift, it takes a tad more time than you would expect. In the manual mode with paddle shifts, it feels much better in control but again it takes time to shift gears whether upshift or downshift. To master the AMT, you just need to lift off the throttle for a fraction of a second while changing gears, this way it is the quickest to react.
Now the best thing I experienced and for which Fiat is very well known is the handling. The Abarth 595 Competizione can seriously give Go-Karts some sleepless nights. It is one of the best (if not the best) handling cars in India that can tickle your tummy and put a wide smile on your face while cornering hard. The car has apparently no body-roll no matter how hard you corner and it carries good speed around the bends with its confidence inspiring handling. The super sharp and feedback rich steering wheel further makes it a lot more fun and you know exactly what the front wheels are doing. I could feel the sure-footedness through the chicane and around the long parabolica of the F1 circuit.
The Koni FSD (Frequency Selective Damping) suspension works extremely well to keep the car planted at all times. That along with the Torque Transfer Control (TTC) and sticky Pirelli tyres makes the Abarth 595 Competizione a delight to handle. There is a tendency to understeer but not much that it would annoy the driver. Braking performance is excellent as well, having ventilated and perforated discs stopping the car from 80-0 km/hr in 25.4 metres. Safety equipment of the Abarth 595 includes 5 airbags including multi-stage front airbags and driver inflatable knee bolster airbag, curtain airbags, race designed steel cage channels, three-mode ESC, Hill Hold Control and ABS with hydraulic brake assist.
The Fiat 500 series has a great heritage behind it and is a big icon. The Abarth 595 Competizione further intensifies the crave of having this special vehicle parked in your garage. Yes it is expensive and comes at a big premium but that’s what it takes to own a car with a solitary attitude. It is not your regular performance hatch but a car with substance and comes with the typical emotional connect that you get with Fiat cars. This little yet explosive Abarth made my day with its blistering performance and quirky styling. I hope Fiat continues to get such interesting cars in India frequently that tug the heartstrings of driving enthusiasts in our country.
* Abarth styling with a pinch of retro design looks wonderful
* Excellent acceleration and refined motor with satisfying exhaust note
* Handling is super sharp and the steering has immense feedback
What’s Not So Cool
* AMT gearbox is laggy
Alternatives: MINI Cooper S