The new Abarth 595 Hatchback is the extreme version of the Fiat 500. It looks a lot like the popular city car, a car on which it’s based. However, this one has an edge to it. It’s bursting with character, and it’s lots of fun to drive.
More muscular in general than the 500, it offers decent performance and a rather bewildering choice of engines. If you want a sports car that’s not too hardcore but which will excite you all the same, it’s definitely worth a place on your shortlist.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Abarth 595 Hatchback review.
Overview of the Abarth 595 Hatchback
On the Road
There are 4 engines to take your pick from, with a standard 143bhp model sitting at the bottom of the range. It might be the smallest engine available, but its 0-62 time of 7.8 should give you a good idea of what the rest of the range is capable of.
The Turismo model is next up, and it can race you from a standstill to 62mph in just 7.3 seconds, while the Competizone model develops 180bhp and has a 0-62 time of 6.6 seconds.
If that’s still not fast enough for you, the Biposto model develops almost 190bhp and can motor its way from rest to 62mph in 5.9 seconds.
For enthusiasts, the top two models will be the most attractive. They’re firmer than the rest of the range, but their steering is also more precise, and their gearboxes are slicker. This allows the Competizone and Biposto models to change direction with balance and pace.
As well as being faster than the Competizone model, the range-topping Biposto variant distinguishes itself with a Monza exhaust that emits a thrilling soundtrack.
Some buyers might find it too extreme though, and indeed it dispenses with the rear seats so that it can focus 100% on performance. It’s lighter than the rest of the range, which allows for greater nimbleness. That said, it’s also fairly uncomfortable, although there’s no denying that it’s great fun to drive.
Abarth 595 Hatchback Interior, Design and Build
All models come with the brand’s 5” uConnect infotainment screen as standard, although the higher spec models get a seven-inch screen.
The cabin is pleasant if a tad uncomfortable at times, and we think buyers will appreciate the sporty bucket seats. On the flipside, as sporty as these seats are, they do feel a bit high.
It’s the cars firm suspension setup that will wreak the most havoc though. This isn’t an easy car to live with, primarily because comfort will be at a premium. Insulation is an issue too. While there’ll be times when you’ll appreciate the exhaust and engine ringing in your ear, there’ll be times when you wish you could just switch them both off.
Is the Abarth 595 Hatchback practical? It’s got just the 3 doors and it’s no bigger than a city car. All models except the range-topping variant come with rear seats, but accessing them is tricky. Once seated, passengers actually have a fair amount of legroom back there, but six-footers will struggle.
The boot meanwhile, measures a paltry 185-litres. On the plus side, you can at least fold the rear seats to extend it to a respectable 550-litres. However, a narrow opening and a high boot lip will frustrate.
Equipment and Safety of the Abarth 595 Hatchback
Standard kit across the range is good, with the entry-level model getting 16” alloys, electric door mirrors, air conditioning, Bluetooth, a digital radio and a 5” touchscreen infotainment system.
The Turismo model adds bigger alloys, twin-zone climate control and leather seats, while the Competizone model nets you xenon headlights, sporty bucket seats, and a choice of different colour schemes.
Optional extras for these 3 models include a carbon-fibre finish for the dash, different alloy designs, an electric sunroof and a Beats stereo.
The Biposto model rounds things off with powerful Brembo brakes, 18” alloys, a muscular body kit, aluminium pedals and racing bucket seats.
In terms of how safe the car is, the Abarth 595 hasn’t been – and probably won’t be – crash tested by Euro NCAP. The Fiat 500 on which it’s based scored 5/5 for its crash test, but this is a faster, more extreme version.
Moreover, it doesn’t come with autonomous emergency braking, hill-start assist or lane departure warning, which is a cause for concern.
Costs of the Abarth 595 Hatchback
Prices for the new car start at £15,510 and rise to £24,210. For more information on our leasing deals, you can check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the 595 range is expansive and is made up of 4 different models. However, they’re all powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine that returns almost the same economy for all models. Generally, you can expect to average 46.9mpg while emitting 139g/km of CO2 if you stick to the manual gearbox, and 48.8mpg while emitting 134g/km of CO2.
Pros and Cons of the Abarth 595 Hatchback
Imagine if the Fiat 500 had been working out? This is what it would look like.
Full of character
It’s got all the 500’s character – and then some.
At less than £16,000, the 595 is very reasonably priced in this market.
This is a big shame, as it can take away your enjoyment when you just want to chill.
Not an all-rounder
The MINI (see below) has more to offer.
Abarth 595 Hatchback vs MINI Cooper S vs Peugeot 208 GTI
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Abarth 595 Hatchback review.
Abarth 595 Hatchback vs MINI Cooper S
The new MINI Cooper S is second only to the John Cooper Works model in the MINI Hatchback range. It’s fun, fast and bursting with character.
The Cooper S represents so much of what we love about the MINI brand. If ever there was a car capable of putting a big smile on your face, this is it.
Although the steering’s immediate response has long been pointed out as a flaw here, there’s no doubt that the Cooper S is, on the whole, one of the most entertaining cars on the market today. It’s more grown-up than ever, but it’s still down for a party.
It offers lots of grip and feedback, and while it has a firmer suspension than the standard model, it never feels too uncomfortable.
It’s powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-pot petrol unit that develops 189bhp. 0-62 is completed in just 6.8 seconds, and all of its power is available almost instantly.
Running costs? The Cooper S is one of the most powerful models in the range, and as a consequence, it’s also one of the most expensive to run. It can manage returns of 46.9mpg on a good day and emits 138g/km of CO2. This qualifies it for a BiK rating of 27%.
Inside, the car’s cabin is a lot more mature than last time. We think buyers will appreciate the sportier stance, with the driver sitting low down, closer to the wheel, gear lever and pedals. The supportive driver’s seat offers lots of adjustability and there’s more space in the cockpit than before.
The dashboard, meanwhile, is richer in quality and it’s come on leaps and bounds in terms of style. The massive speedometer has been replaced by a 6.5” infotainment screen, which you control via rotating a knob. It’s classy stuff, as is a ring of coloured LED lights that encircle it.
Is the MINI Cooper S practical? It’s certainly more user-friendly than last time but there are still one or two issues. For example, while it’s easier to operate the switches and dials, the boot measures just 211-litres. That’s an improvement on last time, but it still falls behind rivals.
Fold the rear seats and you can extend it but, like the Abarth, most buyers will find the boot is too small when all the seats are up.
Other than that, the rear seats are easy to access but awkward to sit in, with space at a premium. Taller adults will be okay on smaller trips but less so on longer ones.
To end on a positive note, the MINI does well on the storage solution front, and it’s easy to park.
Abarth – £15,510 – £24,210
MINI – £15,900 – £22,290
Abarth 595 Hatchback vs Peugeot 208 GTI
Exciting yet affordable to run, the Peugeot 208 GTI is one of the brand’s most exciting cars.
It’s fast and entertaining, and it’s a solid rival to the Abarth. That said, it can also be rather intimidating to drive and hard to live with if you’re relatively inexperienced with cars like this. It comes with lower suspension and stiffer springs than the standard 208, and while this improves its cornering stability (and ability), it does also make the GTI a tad uncomfortable.
Wide, grippy, bulging 18” tyres encourage enthusiastic driving, while limited slip-differential comes as standard to boost your confidence further. All in all, the car is excellently balanced and great to drive.
In terms of its engines, the 208 GTI is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine that develops 208bhp. It has a 0-62 time of 6.5 seconds, performs with relish and almost urges you to go faster with its insatiable appetite for speed. Top speed is 143mph.
Running costs? The car excels on this front and can return 52.3mpg economy on a good day. That’s significantly better than the MINI, but it sits in insurance group 32 at the lowest and won’t be cheap to insure.
Inside, the cabin is easy to get along with. The gear shift, steering wheel, clutch and controls have all been designed to make your life easier, as have the supportive seats.
Its dashboard is taken from the standard 208 model, which means you get a big central touchscreen and a high instrument cluster. Of course, this model has a few touches that distinguish it from the standard car, such as a metal gear knob and red trim pieces.
Is the Peugeot 208 GTI practical? It’s a small but surprisingly spacious car. All models come with three doors which do make it harder to access the rear, but once inside two adults can sit in comfort back there.
Storage solutions aren’t the best. There aren’t too many available, while some of the ones that are here are difficult to access. There’s a bit of a usability issue – for example, some of the dials are obscured by the steering wheel.
The boot, however, is a major positive and measures 285-litres. Fold the rear seats and it extends to as much as 743-litres, which far outdoes the Abarth.
Peugeot – £19,334 +
Verdict of our 2018 Abarth 595 Hatchback Review
The 595 is a funny one – we love it and think buyers will love it too, but you might have to draw lots to help you make a decision. In other words, as fun, cheerful, fast and fab as it is, its rivals are its equals. That said, if you have to settle for the Abarth 595 Hatchback, you won’t be disappointed.