Surely, no car in the past decade has been treated to as many reincarnations as the modern Fiat 500.

Triumphantly reborn in 2007, half a century after Dante Giacosa’s rear-engined Nuova 500 took Italy by storm, the car received its first Abarth makeover a year later.

Abarth had been making Fiat performance exhausts and tuning kits for a decade before it introduced the original 595 at the Turin motor show in 1963.

The car proved an immediate hit, its size and surprising turn of speed guaranteeing it legendary status in its maker’s annals, and helped to lead it up the path to Fiat’s eventual takeover in 1971.

Since then, there have been numerous frivolous special editions, not least the 695 Tributo Ferrari and the Maserati tribute – models whose most accurate and obvious tribute to its namesake was the spectacular £30k price.

Finally, however, the car has been treated to a refresh that doesn’t come with a limited build number. Partly in tribute to Abarth’s original interpretation of the 500 – 50 years old itself in 2013 – the model has been rebranded as the 595 and now comes in standard, Turismo and Competizione trim levels, not to mention still being available as a cabriolet. There was always room for a stripped out track day special in Abarth's stable, and it duly responded with the 695 Biposto.

The question is: can the latest Abarth, a car that we recall fondly, still mix it up in a supermini market that is about to have an all-new Mini Cooper (always a 500 nemesis) gatecrash through the ceiling? 

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Top 5 Hot hatchbacks

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Hyundai i30 N
    Standard spec is good so paint colour is our car’s only option
    First Drive
    23 April 2018
    What’s Hyundai’s first hot hatch and N-brand debutant really like? Let’s find out
  • Jaguar E-Pace 2018 review hero front
    Car review
    20 April 2018
    Can Jaguar’s compact SUV bring flair and dynamic polish to a fast-growing class?
  • Audi TT RS Coupé
    First Drive
    20 April 2018
    The Audi TT RS has the looks, a vociferous engine and the supercar-baiting performance, but is it too uncompromising to use as a daily driver?
  • Lamborghini Urus review 2018 hero front
    First Drive
    19 April 2018
    The supercar maker's new 4x4 is massively capable wherever it goes, while being extremely conspicuous and costly while it does it
  • Skoda Kodiaq
    First Drive
    19 April 2018
    High-spec seven-seater Kodiaq begins its family life with a lot to prove — for Skoda and SUVs