From £15,7158

Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

As standard the Abarth 595 develops 143bhp, the Turismo version produces 162bhp, while the Competizione punches out 177bhp from the same 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine. The Abarth 695 Biposto gets 187bhp and 184lb ft of peak twist driven through a five-speed dog-leg gearbox.

There are no serious mechanical changes in the engine to achieve the greater power output as is fairly typical these days. But there's a new air filter, which adds some a bit of volume to the induction noise and helps it breathe more freely, while there's a remapped ECU, too. 

Competizione-equipped Abarths come with bigger brakes

The resulting power is still a long way short of the Mini Cooper S's 189bhp, but there's no denying the verve and character of the 1.4-litre turbocharged unit, which emits a pleasingly vocal exhaust rort throughout its rev range.

From low revs the 595 Abarth wants a delay before beginning to deliver the power you've asked from it, but once it's beyond around 3000rpm it's as responsive as you could reasonably ask, and it pulls through to the other side of 6000rpm (peak power is at 5750) with decent conviction and that raspy exhaust note; certainly every inch as . 

In a straight line, the 595 Abarth managed to chirrup its way to 60mph in 7.6sec (the standard traction and stability control cannot be switched out), despite/because of its 1135kg tested weight (full of fuel but otherwise empty), and the fact it can hit 60mph in second gear. It feels about that fast, too.

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As well as the power increase, Competizione-equipped Abarths come with bigger brakes - 305mm ventilated and drilled discs at the front and 240mm drilled ones at the rear - and there's certainly nothing wrong with the way the 595 Abarth stops. Its braking distances of 46.8m (from 70mph in the dry) are impressive, and there's precious little fade even after a few laps of our dry handling circuit.