What is it?
Like most hot hatches, Abarth’s version of the 500 has always found the UK a happy home. The model fits very tidily and almost exclusively into its city car-sized niche, and although its sales volumes are minuscule compared to some, it remains a common enough sight in affluent towns – London in particular.
In recent years, though, the car has floundered somewhat under the weight of increasingly frivolous and expensive special editions. The most recent was the 695 Biposto, imported in tiny numbers in return for Volkswagen Golf R money. Now, at last, with the 500’s recent facelift comes a new assault on the Abarth front, the latest 595 being launched in a three-trim line-up with three different engine outputs.
All are based on the familiar turbocharged 1.4-litre T-Jet lump, with the top-spec 178bhp Competizione providing our area of focus – not least because it is the one that can now be equipped with Abarth’s current preferred power-up: a mechanical limited-slip differential.
The add-on, part of a new Performance Pack that also features 17in Supersport alloy wheels and carbonfibre-shelled race seats, is available exclusively for the five-speed manual gearbox. As standard, the Competizione also gets uprated Koni FSD dampers all round and a more potent Brembo braking system.