Since 2002 the Mini Cooper has had things all its own way. There is no shortage of hot hatchbacks on the market, but there is a shortage of ones, like the Mini, that have an inherent showroom appeal and a hefty dollop of cheek to accompany their performance and handling. The Abarth 595 aims to redress the balance.

The Abarth brand was reborn in 2007 with the Punto Abarth, but the bigger news is this 500, which followed with a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine in four stages of tune, depending on whether it's in standard form, Turismo, Competizione and 695 Biposto, with the first three Abarths available as a convertible.

Bar the latter, the Abarth 595 has benefitted from the facelift bestowed on the Fiat 500 in 2015, with new head and rear lights chief among the changes.

In its Competizione trim, the 595 is the closest competitor there is to the Mini Cooper S - at least in terms of conception and image. But can it match it for speed and interaction, too?

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