What Car? says...
The Abarth 595 is a bit like a granny on roller skates. Let us explain. It’s a fast version of the Fiat 500 and was first launched in 2008 as the Abarth 500. Over the years, the Abarth has had many a nip and tuck to try and keep it fresh – including a name change to 595 – but it’s still technically the same car underneath. In car terms, that’s old.
But while most manufacturers have shied away from making high-performance city cars, the Abarth’s ability to provide pint-size thrills means it still manages to stand out from the crowd, despite its ancient underpinnings.
These days, city cars are ten a penny but finding a quick one is trickier; most of the Abarth 595’s former rivals have now been discontinued. And while hot hatches like the Ford Fiesta ST and Suzuki Swift Sport are of a similar price, they’re quite a bit bigger and technically belong to the class above.
That leaves just one true rival: the Volkswagen Up GTI. And on paper at least, the city car from Turin should have the better of the 113bhp lightweight from Wolfsburg, with even the base Abarth 595 putting out a whopping 143bhp from its 1.4-litre turbocharged engine. In fact, the entire recipe for the Abarth looks quite tasty: there’s lowered suspension, an aggressive-looking bodykit, racy sports seats and a lairy exhaust.
But do these changes make the 595 spicy enough to beat the competition? Over the next few pages, we’ll let you know. And whichever sporty city car you decide on, visit our New Car Buying pages for the best discounts around.
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