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Abarth 595 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
6
Paul Gover road tests and reviews the Abarth 595 with specs, fuel cosnumption and verdict at its Australian launch.

Fiat prices the tiny but punchy Abarth to win friends without breaking the bank.

Entry to a feisty Fiat just got easier and cheaper.

The new Abarth 595 is not as riotously rambunctious as some of the top-end models from Fiat's performance arm but is more user-friendly and likely to be more popular with buyers.

It's definitely calm, the ride is more compliant but the cabin needs big improvements. it also lacks the sporty exhaust note of the more hardcore models.

The Abarth 595 is priced from $27,500 — an automatic gearbox adds $2000 and it's another $3000 for a cabrio roof — for a car which still packs a 1.4-litre turbo engine.

The price is $6000 less than any previous Abarth, providing a better bridge from basic 500 models. It should be capable of doubling sales from the modest total of just 120 cars in 2015, as well as keeping potential owners away from rivals such as the Renault Clio RS and Mini Cooper.

"We know there are people looking for something like this," says Fiat Chrysler Australia's Alan Swanson.

"It looks like an Abarth but isn't quite as extreme. Pushed to the limit, it can still have real performance credentials."

There are some visual tweaks and twin exhaust tips.

The 595 is more like a detuned 695 Tributo than a tweaked 500. The four-cylinder engine (103kW/206Nm) turns five-speed manual or auto gearboxes and the sporty running gear includes Koni front shock absorbers, vented disc brakes and 16-inch alloy wheels with 45-series tyres.

Facing the driver are a seven-inch display screen, a turbo boost gauge atop the dash and a torque transfer selector to maximise grip on a track.

There are some visual tweaks and twin exhaust tips. There is still no rear-view camera — that will come with the next Fiat 500 — and the driving position is too high for a sporty car.

On the road

I'm cramped at the wheel but on a loop out from Hobart into the Tasmanian countryside, I feel confident despite wet and slippery roads.

I'm definitely happier in the 595 than I would be in a high-performance 695 Tributo or the road-racer Bitposto I drove last year, thanks to much more compliance in the suspension and more responsive rubber.

There is none of the wildness of a Tributo at the top end of its turbo rush.

The highs are not as high yet the lows are not as low. The boot is not big, some extra pop-bang from the exhaust would be fun but otherwise it's a comfortable package with enough go for the enthusiast.

"The (outputs) aren't huge but the car only weighs (just over) 1000kg," says Swanson.

On the track

Baskerville Raceway outside Hobart is cold and sodden as we arrive to stretch the 595. Grip is limited, the corners are greasy and the ESP intervenes to keep me safe.

The 595 is better than I expect. The softer suspension keeps the wheels well planted and there is none of the wildness of a Tributo at the top end of its turbo rush.

Even when the track dries there is not much grip but that's just fine. The car is quick enough to have some fun but not so fast as to be scary.

There is a solid torque shove and the car runs to the red-line at more than 140km/h in fourth gear with every kilowatt wrung out of it. The shift action is good, the brakes pull the car up evenly and the chassis is well-balanced, especially considering the short wheelbase brings the potential for the rear end to snap sideways.

Pricing Guides

$23,333
Based on 5 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$18,990
Highest Price
$23,333

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Competizione 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTOMATED $26,070 – 32,120 2016 Abarth 595 2016 Competizione Pricing and Specs
(base) 1.4L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $18,990 – 23,333 2016 Abarth 595 2016 (base) Pricing and Specs
Competizione 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $23,210 – 28,600 2016 Abarth 595 2016 Competizione Pricing and Specs
Turismo 1.4L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $20,790 – 26,290 2016 Abarth 595 2016 Turismo Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6

“It's a little bit special and it's sure to win friends among those interested in a 500 — who can now get something with the Abarth badge without going into serious debt.Price - The base price of $27,500 is right on the money, more than $6000 cheaper than the previous Abarth price leader.Equipment - No shortcuts on the aircon or multimedia, although the car loses leather seats. And, although it's barely needed in a baby car, a reversing camera would be good.Performance - A 100km/h sprint below 8 seconds is fine, there is strong torque and the five-speed manual gearbox works well.Driving - It sits 15mm lower than a regular Fiat 500 and has 16-inch alloys but the suspension is nicely tuned to combine a smooth country-road ride with good grip in corners. It's not fast but it's still fun.Design - Only an Abarth enthusiast will pick the minor changes from the Tributo models but it still has the looks to turn heads.”

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