Since its release in 2002, the Mini Cooper S had been the only hot hatch to successfully blend high-class appeal with class-leading performance and handling. But that all changed when the Abarth brand was reborn in 2007.
With its cutesy looks, characterful engine and classless image, the 595 Abarth quickly proved itself to be a genuine competitor to the best of British. It might not have been as sharp or as practical as the Mini, but it managed to fulfil its one primary purpose: putting a smile on the face of its driver.
Now, the 595 has benefitted from the facelift bestowed on the Fiat 500, with a raft of visual updates, an increase in power and a new mechanical limited-slip differential chief among the changes. However, with a never-ending stream of exceptionally talented hot hatches being released, you have to question if these updates really are enough to keep it ahead of the pack.
Read on to find out if the 595 should be at the very top of your hot hatch shortlist.