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Fiat Abarth 595 2014 Review

EXPERT RATING
8

The Abarth badge is unfamiliar to many, but most recognise the car as some sort of Fiat.

The big difference between this car and either of the previous Abarth 695 specials is not in the amount of power they produce.

Rather it's the fact that this Abarth can be had with a manual transmission, a feature that makes a world of difference to the overall drive experience.

Even though the Abarth 595 Turismo packs less punch, it's still the pick and the fact it's cheaper is icing on the cake.

DESIGN

Our test car was stunning with two-tone, grey over red paint, twin big bore exhausts, and black wheels with red brake calipers - trimmed inside with red leather.

The car is equipped as standard with Xenon headlights with dipped and driving light functions for improved light emission and excellent performance in all weather conditions.

ENGINE

Performance is a factor of power versus weight. The more power a car has and the less it weighs, the quicker it will be out of the blocks.

With a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, the tiny Abarth is a perfect example. The engine delivers 118kW and 230Nm, figures that are impressive for a car this size.

This compares with the 695 model that develops 132kW and 250Nm from the same engine, but in a slightly higher state of tune.

At the end of the day, however, there is absolutely no difference in performance as both do the dash from 0-100km/h in 7.4 seconds.

TRANSMISSION

As appealing as either the Ferrari Tributo or Edizione Maserati may be, the MTA robotised manual gearbox they come with is a deal-breaker.

Gear changes are jerky, and the car is prone to nose diving even though changes can smoothed out with a bit of practice.

But why bother, not when you can have a five speed manual instead, a transmission that everyone is familiar with - and one that makes the car more fun to drive?

CHASSIS

17-inch alloys riding on Koni shocks with lowered front and rear springs, the Abarth is more of a go-kart than a Mini.

The ride is firm verging on harsh at times and the car can become flighty when pushed hard on bumpy back roads, but you won't find any complaints here about the way it goes around corners.

The standard the torque transfer control enhances traction without getting in road of the fun.

Fuel efficiency is rated at 5.4L/100km, however we were getting 8.1 after about 350km.

DRIVING

The 596 would be more fun to drive if it wasn't so damn uncomfortable.

The seating position is awkward with small short seat squabs and a steering wheel that does not provide any reach adjustment. Combined with high floor mounted foot pedals the driver always seem to be either too close or too far away from the wheel and the prone foot position can lead to cramps after a while.

The answer could be to kick back and stretch your legs, but unfortunately the car is not fitted with cruise control.

The pedals themselves are slightly offset to the right and it is possible to get stuck on the footrest when working the clutch (it's not the first Italian car that has this problem).

The rear vision mirror is large, sits bang smack in the middle of the windscreen and obscures vision at times.

Given the car is so small it is not surprising the back seat is tiny and fit only for small children.

The engine has a surprising amount of torque, but fifth gear is strictly for freeway use.

A Monza exhaust system provides the accompaniment, with a baffle that opens around 3000 revs to make it louder. It buzzes like a baby Ferrari.

Pricing Guides

$23,870
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$17,820
Highest Price
$29,920

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Competizione 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $20,790 – 26,290 2014 Abarth 595 2014 Competizione Pricing and Specs
50th Anniversary 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTOMATED $24,200 – 29,920 2014 Abarth 595 2014 50th Anniversary Pricing and Specs
Competizione 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTOMATED $20,460 – 25,850 2014 Abarth 595 2014 Competizione Pricing and Specs
Turismo 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTOMATED $18,810 – 23,870 2014 Abarth 595 2014 Turismo Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8