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Abarth 595 2014 Review

EXPERT RATING
6
Craig Duff road tests and reviews the 2014 Abarth 595, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

We all remember the hyperactive kid in school, the one who'd fidget, fuss and all but bounce off the walls the moment conditions didn't suit them. Out in the playground you didn't see which way they went, such were the reserves of energy.

Fiat has built the four-wheel version - ADHD is also spelt Abarth. It's a raucous, rebellious micro hatch that's constantly straining to slip the leash and unleash well-intentioned mayhem. Even so, you can't help but like it.

VALUE

There are now two flavours of the 595 - a leather-trimmed Turismo riding on 10-spoke alloys for $33,500 and a more contoured cloth-covered seat along with five-spoke rims in the Competizione.

The seats and rims are in a $3000 options package that includes the "Record Monza" dual-mode exhaust that opens a tailpipe valve above 4000rpm and mutates the snarl into a savage tone heralding the car's arrival well before it can be seen.

Go for the ragtop and it's another $2500. Both models can be had with a manu-matic gearbox that does away with the clutch. It can be used as a straight auto or shifts can be made using the wheel-mounted paddles. Forget it - it's like buying a purebred pup with papers and having it neutered.

DESIGN

In various incarnations this car has been around for 50 years as a performance version of the regular Fiat 500. It used to have a literal sting in its tail in the form of a rear-mounted engine. 

That's now been housed up front, leaving enough space in the boot for a pair of overnight bags. Putting adults in the rear seats for extended periods almost amounts to a human rights violation: the pews are occasional in the true sense of the word and are best folded flat to extend cargo space.

DRIVING

The plastics are hard and not great to touch, the seat's set too high and the steering column doesn't adjust for reach, so finding a natural drive position is far from intuitive. Adding insult to inconvenience is the knob to adjust the seat back - it can't be operated without opening the door. So set up before you set off.

In the footwall the pedal spacing demands the small and nimble appendages of a ballerina to avoid accidentally pressing the wrong device - and clipping the brake as you go for the clutch isn't a good look or feel.

It becomes easier with time spent in the car and that's a huge relief, as owners will be doing plenty of gear changes to keep the turbocharged 1.4-litre engine spinning in its 3000-5500rpm sweet spot. Pick the right cog from the five available and the Fiat is a vehicular vandal, shredding corners with the same speedy intent an outgoing government shreds files.

Let the revs drop too low, particularly uphill, and the Abarth momentarily sulks as it overcomes lag and a loss of momentum. The solution is just a shift away but does require owners to keep half an eye on the tacho.

Extracting maximum fun from the Fiat is a case of finding the right road. The Koni dampers have some hi-tech secondary valve setup - and it's all-but-useless on badly rutted roads that cause the Fiat to get far more than fidgety as the too-harsh suspension struggles to keep pace with the waves of corrugations.

Smooth the bitumen out, though, and there's some serious fun to be had. Cornering grip is phenomenal and if understeer does occur, it only take a small dab of the impressive brakes or a light lift of the throttle to set the tail wagging and redirect the Abarth's arc to something that won't take you off the road.

Pricing Guides

$23,980
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$17,930
Highest Price
$30,030

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Competizione 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $21,010 – 26,620 2014 Abarth 595 2014 Competizione Pricing and Specs
50th Anniversary 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTOMATED $24,310 – 30,030 2014 Abarth 595 2014 50th Anniversary Pricing and Specs
Competizione 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTOMATED $20,570 – 26,070 2014 Abarth 595 2014 Competizione Pricing and Specs
Turismo 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTOMATED $18,920 – 23,980 2014 Abarth 595 2014 Turismo Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6