These are two lairy, good fun, wildly characterful hot hatches. They might not be the ultimate in keenness - you'd look to something like the Ford Fiesta ST if you wanted the greatest all rounder in the class - but they both offer something unique and entertaining.
The Mini JCW has a big 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with plenty of power and its sophisticated chassis ought to make it very capable. The Abarth 595 is a more curious hatch - a city car with aggressive looks and the aggression turned up to 11.
We like them both. But which will our expert road testers, Mauro Calo and Matt Prior, think is the best? Join us on the roads of Wales in the height of, er, summer, as we find out.