Since when was it stylish to be sensible? It seems that people no longer dread the day they have to settle down and buy something cushy and practical, but rather look forward to it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but it does make the Abarth 595 a true breath of fresh air.
Like the discontinued Abarth 500, the 595 is nonsensical and slightly mad. You get a raucous turbo engine in a car that’s the size and weight of a thimble. It’s no technical masterpiece from an objective point of view, especially with its relatively tall body working against it, but most will find it hilariously good fun to drive.
Let’s dive into that engine first. Looking solely at the 595 after it was facelifted in 2016, we have a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol with power outputs ranging from 144bhp to 178bhp. Even the lower figure is enough to challenge a Suzuki Swift Sport in a straight line.
Its 695 sibling gets at least 165bhp, but you’ll find most have 178bhp, like the top-spec 595s, which means 0-62mph in 6.7sec – Mini Cooper S territory, in other words. For something born of the city car class, it’s a rocket.
Also somewhat eye-catching, or rather ear-catching, are the exhaust options. Even the standard pipe has a surprising growl, but opt for a car with a Record Monza or Akrapovic set-up, and its sound punches way above its weight. They really do give this small car a big mouth.
The driving experience as a whole is more divisive. Those who despise upright driving positions and rough, jiggly rides might want to look elsewhere, but if that doesn’t bother you, you’re in luck.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this hot hatch is super-agile and darty. Threading it down narrow urban streets or tight country roads with enthusiasm is incredibly entertaining. Plus, it only weighs a smidge more than a tonne as well, helping it feel lively and eager.