The Abarth 595 Competizione is a more sporty version of the already bonkers Fiat 500 Abarth with the rowdy nature of the car dialled all the way upto 11. Fiat has decided to introduce the little niche vehicle in India and MotorBeam.com got a chance to take it out for a spin.
The Abarth 595 Competizione for the uninitiated is a very small Italian hatchback with retro styling and mad graphics. The car is clearly aimed at rich enthusiasts who want to buy into the Abarth ecosystem with a niche product that will definitely stand out in the crowd.
It is in no ways a mass market product as it does not give two-hoots about stuff like fuel efficiency and practicality. Thus we were very delighted with the prospects of testing out the hamster sized rocket in our own style.
On the outside, the 595 looks very different from the regular Fiat 500, which itself is a fabulous eyeball-grabber due to its retro styling. The Abarthified sporty additions over the regular Fiat 500 include extended bumpers with wider airdams, low side skirts, rear diffuser, dual exhaust, massive 17-inch alloys and of course the Scorpion badges all around.
The tiny size of the car mesmerises people further. Cordolo Red colour on this hot hatch that we drove at the BIC race track looked especially good.
Inside, the car isn't exactly what one would call fully loaded. The obligatory all black interiors which signify that it is a sporty car are all there. The car gives a traditional infotainment system a miss and all the important information, including the parking sensor feed (no reverse camera) is on a large and vibrant multi-information display.
The front seats are manually adjustable including the steering wheel and there is no height adjust for the driver. No auto foldable ORVMs and no auto headlamps either. Since the Indian market only gets an AMT equipped variant, there is no gearknob but instead four weird looking buttons namely 1, N, R and A/M.
Now to the business-end of things, which give actual meaning to all the low stance and flashy graphics. The Abarth prefix not only adds to the aesthetic value but also changes the character of the car altogether.
The crazy Abarth is powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged T-Jet petrol engine that produces 160 horses at 5500 RPM and 230 Nm of twisting force at 3000 RPM. After the slight turbo lag phase below 1700 RPM and the punchy mid-range, the car transforms into a feral cat with explosive performance near the 6600 RPM redline.
In the regular mode it produces only 206 Nm, which makes the acceleration a bit linear and more drivable in traffic conditions. The Sport mode, in which it produces the maximum torque of 230 Nm, offers instant throttle response and an explosive mid-range.
The exhaust note has a good bass at low revs and gets raspy at the higher end. The car offers steering mounted paddle shifts that are more engaging and fun. 0-100 km/hr is achievable in just 7.4 seconds while the top speed is rated at 209 km/hr. The Abarth 595 is a decent cruiser as well in the top gear doing 100 km/hr at 2500 RPM.
At the same time, the tiny hot hatch is also famous for its on-the-rail handling and driving dynamics, thanks to its well balanced chassis, stiff suspension and wide section tyres. The steering offers exactly the right feedback you want at particular speeds.
Though, as the rule is, the taut suspension along with the stiff sports seats make it a pain driving even on expansion gaps of flyovers, imagine big potholes and bumps. The car has humongous 305×28 mm perforated front brake discs though the brakes on our test car felt a bit spongy and started fading on hard braking.
The Abarth 595 comes with a long list of safety equipment on offer such as 5 airbags. There are race designed steel cage channels, three-mode electronic stability control, Hill Hold Control and ABS with hydraulic brake assist.
There are only four exclusive dealerships for the Abarth 595 across the country - Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and New Delhi. The car retails with an on-road price tag of Rs 35.98 lakhs.