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? 

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