From £14,3657
The 158bhp, 169lb ft 1.4 T-Jet Turbo engine delivers sudden bursts of urgent, energetic driving - but can it be too much sometimes?

Our Verdict

Abarth 595

This raucous little Fiat adheres to the golden rule of warm hatches: put a broad smile on the driver's face

  • First Drive

    Abarth 595 Trofeo review

    The 158bhp, 169lb ft 1.4 T-Jet Turbo engine delivers sudden bursts of urgent, energetic driving - but can it be too much sometimes?
  • First Drive

    Fiat 500C Abarth Esseesse

    Expensive, and too compromised on UK roads

What is it?

This is another variation on the Fiat-based Abarth 500. You might think that with five models in the 500-based Abarth range, there were enough already, but no: Fiat’s successful performance brand has just introduced a new model, badged Trofeo, and at the same time another limited edition. The pricey exclusive model is the £20,360 695 Yamaha XSR inspired by the brand’s MotoGP sponsorship, while the £17,360 595 Trofeo slots between the base £15,260 595 and the £18,360 595 Turismo as a permanent addition.

The Trofeo provides a 158bhp, 169lb ft version of the 1.4 T-Jet turbo engine, 15bhp more than in the standard 595 and only 5bhp less than the Turismo’s 163bhp. It’s a trivial power difference, the two powertrains delivering identical torque and the same 7.3sec 0-62mph time, although you’ll go just over 1mph faster with 163 horses. But you'll beat the base 595 to 62mph by 0.5sec.

The Trofeo package also provides more hardware. Over the standard 595 you get bigger 17in alloys, a dual-mode, quad-pipe exhaust system (grandly titled ‘Dual Record Monza exhaust’), perforated front discs and Koni rear dampers. These feature the famous Dutch shock absorber brand’s frequency-selective damping (FSD), the non-Koni front struts also having FSD. Each damper features an extra internal oil-way to improve their handling of high-frequency bumps that affect ride, without compromising the suspension’s ability to deal with the low-frequency wheel inputs required for good roadholding. So it’s claimed, anyway, although there’ll be moments when you question the effectiveness of these modifications when the ride turns turbulent.

The Trofeo’s interior is essentially the same as that of other Abarth 500s, being stylishly furnished within a grotto-like space. The Trofeo’s seats are attractively styled with six large circular perforations and Abarth stitching to the head restraints, the wheel is leather-rimmed and the 7.0in U-Connect infotainment system includes some basic telemetry.

What's it like?

You enjoy these toys perched high in the 500’s cramped, narrow cabin, but the feeling of confinement soon evaporates unless you’re tall, because you’ll be concentrating on the ensuing lightly riotous entertainment - especially if the roads are decently surfaced, as per the Sardinian test drive. This is a car with the front-end bite of a terrier and the same small-scale determination. It claws its way towards apexes in a way that’ll soon have you attacking them with more ferocity, especially as the 1.4 Multijet turbo motor is just as eager above 2000rpm, its exhaust sounding like a distant munitions test zone. The Abarth’s enthusiasm for apexes is in large part the product of Torque Transfer Control, or torque vectoring.

It combines with steering that’s decently precise and has some reassuring heft, but you can forget getting much feedback, because there’s very little. The precision partly compensates, though, as does its responsiveness. The lock is laughable, incidentally. The grippy seats, tactile wheel, slick-enough gearchange and robust aura encourage the bold, especially when you discover that you can bung this Abarth at tight corners and enjoy exits bordering on four-wheel drifts when the ESP lies dormant. The experience is frenetic but not madly so, at least on our decently surfaced route. 

Should I buy one?

We know, though, that the 595 turns undesirably lively on well-beaten B-roads, and that’s how you’ll probably feel at the end of one if your journey is long. Sometimes you’ll get airborne in your seat, the Abarth’s ride only smooth when the road below is the same. But when you’re aboard such a cutely pugnacious machine, this sizeable flaw seems to diminish. If you fancy sudden bursts of urgent, energetic driving, this car delivers. What the Trofeo itself delivers is a more affordable step towards a higher output than the more expensive Turismo offers. For an extra £2100 over the standard 143bhp, you go usefully faster and gain a small but appealing bundle of extra kit that makes for a tempting proposition.

Abarth 595 Trofeo

Price £17,360 Engine 4 cyls, 1368cc, turbo, petrol Power 158bhp at 5500rpm Torque 170lb ft at 3000rpm Gearbox 5-spd manual Kerb weight 1215kg 0-62mph 7.3sec Top speed 135mph Economy 47.1mpg (combined) CO2/tax band 139g/km, 26% 

Join the debate

Comments
7

20 May 2017
But quite a few Abarths for sale with low miles on that popular used car website, so maybe the fun is short lived?
Still it's a faster and more interesting proposition than the up GTi and you'll not have to wait a year. Does this thing really weigh more than 1200kg?

20 May 2017
LP in Brighton wrote:

But quite a few Abarths for sale with low miles on that popular used car website, so maybe the fun is short lived?
Still it's a faster and more interesting proposition than the up GTi and you'll not have to wait a year. Does this thing really weigh more than 1200kg?

More interesting in what way? Spotty teenage girl, more on the road kind of way?

21 May 2017
I also consider it a more interesting proposition mainly due to its styling, the up is quite a blandly styled box compared with the 500, we have a mii by mango whose spec level lifts it a bit as its quite plush but styling wise still a bit bland. We needed 5 doors otherwise would have bought a 500.

21 May 2017
I bought my 595 Turismo new in August last year (10 months ago), and have covered nearly 14,000 miles in that time - by the end of its first year that should increase to about 24,000 - in other words, it gets seriously used!

I am not an Abarth fanatic. I believe I see it for what it is - a flawed but entertaining car, but one that CAN be practical.

First the negatives:

The ride is hilariously poor - but only what you would expect from a short wheelbase vehicle with rock hard suspension - a short test drive will tell you if you can live with this. Mid-corner bumps can be exciting - you think you're going to take-off (the car doesn't, but you might leave your seat!). Grip is always immense even in the wet.

Steering is quite dead - precise, but dead. I actually prefer the steering in non-sport mode - it feels artificially heavy in sport mode, but unfortunately you lose the throttle response and a little bit of useful torque. At least you have the choice.

Fuel economy is not bad - I've averaged 44mpg over the time I've had the car - the problem is the small tank - you will be looking for a filling station every 200 miles.

It requires concentration to sustain motorway speeds (no cruise control), and a snappy throttle response (great when you want it) can make things a bit trying when wanting to simply cruise.

Noisy - no doubt about it - fine for a blast but wearing after a 250+ mile stint in the seat! Turn up the radio!

Bit of a W%&*er-magnet - every knob in their hot-hatch will be out to take you on. Rise above it!

Positives:

Reliable! Not wanting to jinx things but the car has been rock-solid, especially considering the heavy use the car is getting - no additional costs other than servicing so far.

Performance is excellent - not rocketship fast, but it will get you in trouble very quickly if you don't keep an eye on the speedo!

Performance is always accessible, as long as you are doing at least 2000 pm, the turbo spinning up nice and quickly.

The boot is just about big enough for my needs (a couple of overnight bags or even enough for a weekend camping for two!)

It's a car you definitely have a relationship with - good and bad. Some days you will wonder why you bought it, other times you'll be having too much time to care! I suspect when it comes time to get a new car, it won't be another 595 - but while I will have another car in a year or two's time, I don't think I'll ever part with my 595 - it would be like selling the family dog - never going to happen!

This car is most definitely NOT for everyone, and therefore I cannot give it an unequivocally recommendation. However, if you are looking for a fun car, lots of character, and can forgive its shortcomings, then give it a go!

22 May 2017
Nice to see some-one giving their first-hand experiences in a well balanced write up. 595's are great value too when compared to other performance super mini cars.
Does the local petrol station greet you by name now?

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

22 May 2017
I'm on my 3rd one, all the standard 500/595.

I've had the latest one for a year and covered 7,000 miles.

Contrary to what people may think there has been continuous development over the years, the suspension has been improved, its much less bouncy at the back than the early cars and the power output has gone up to 145BHP, even for the standard one.

I don't do much motorway, I agree with the comments above, but its great fun and people love them, we often get comments about it. You won't get that with an UP!

All my Abarths have been reliable, and I think its good value for the performance you get, even if you do have to put up with idiots "racing" you, leave them to it....

Its practical as a 2+2, occasionally we could do with a bigger boot, that's the only downside.

Its flawed, but no small car with hard suspension is going to ride like a limo, the seat is a little high, but who cares? We need cars like this before the Greens make us drive Prius's (Or is it Priusi?)

The 595 does a thing that others can't do, it puts smile on the face of the driver and others. It's not something that can be copied or designed in....

22 May 2017
Great to hear buyers experiences of this car. I've always had a softspot for the Abarth 500. Nearly bought one in 2009, but the finance deal was awful compared to what Mini offered me. I'm sure now, there will be deals aplenty on them!

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