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Abarth 595 Competizione Review

The cute Fiat 500 gets a dose of adrenaline. And some. Is the Abarth 500 Competizione the best hatchback in the country? We find out.

Abarth 595 competizione front 2
Abarth, just like AMG is to Mercedes, is Fiat’s inhouse tuner and is known for some insane cars back in the 60’s and 70’s. From the Abarth 600 that was sold with no engine cover to the 131 that dominated the world rally championship, Abarth tuned cars have often captured hearts and victories alike. And now, with the 500, they seem to have gone a bit further than ever before.

Exterior styling: 
Abarth 595 competizione rear
Although it shares its cute headlamps and body proprtions with the Fiat 500, a closer look reveals more. A sportier bumper with a built in air splitter accentuates the front of the Abarth 500 Competizione. The large air intakes for the more powerful engine and the side gills that channel air towards the front brakes too are an addition. The large ‘Abarth Scorpion’ badge combined with the chrome slat pays tribute to the original Abarth 500s of the 1960s. Moving to the side, the ground effect additions to the standard Fiat 500’s body continues with sportier side skirts and a set of 17-inch Abarth wheels. The almost ‘Shreklike’ ORVMs too look right in place on this little supermini.
Abarth 595 competizione side
Around the back, the Fiat 500’s cuteness has been replaced by typical Abarth madness. Althought there is no fixed open tail gate engine cover like the ones found in the original Fiat 500 Abarth from the 60s, one does find a sporty rear bumper with a built in diffuser. The large twin exhaust setup looks right in place on this little road racer and the gills on the side help improve airflow around the rear wheels. The ‘595’ and ‘Competizione’ logos combined with a small spoiler showcases the little hatchback’s sporty potential.

Abarth 595 competizione interior
Interior & space: 
The Abarth 595 Competizione comes with a funky interior that is based on the standard Fiat 500. That said, strangely, the climate control system on the standard car had been replaced with a more traditional knob based AC unit. Strangely, the Esseesse version we drove earlier in the year came with the climate control unit. The Abarth 595 Competizione’s dashboard comes with large plastic slab on the dashboard that can be customised in a range of colors and designs according to taste of respective customers. The car we drove though had a very subdued dark grey interior package to go with the light grey exterior.
Abarth 595 competizione seats
The interior with its function appeal and easy to understand dials and knobs does appeal to the sensible chap but needs a serious refresh for it to hold up against the likes of the new Mini. The Sabelt race seats are phenomenal and offer great support especially while pushing the little 500 to its limits. That said, the slightly well fed person might find the seats a tad bit uncomfortable. Although the 500 Abarth does have two seats in the back, realistically an average sized human would find it challenging to endure a long journey in the back of one.

Abarth 595 competizione dials
Features & Equipment: 
The art-deco inspired Fiat 500 is a pretty good place to be in. The interior, in terms of pure spec, when compared to the likes of a MINI Cooper does feel a little outdated though with no large LCD screen and no extras like satellite navigation to give you company. And then the large childish turbo boost gauge grabs the attention of the 11 year old boy inside you and all is forgiven. The huge speedometer and tachometer console taken from the standard Fiat 500 looks well in place here with its unique gauge-in-gauge design. We especially love the way the LCD display in the gauges changes when you switch between normal and sport mode.

Abarth 595 competizione paddle shifts
Even the pedals have been redesigned with the Abarth 500 Essesss getting a set of sporty aluminum ones with an embossed Abarth logo on them.
Abarth 595 competizione tracking front
Ride and ease of driving: 
First things first. The Abarth 500 is not exactly what you can call comfortable. In fact, with its super stiff suspension setup and its hard ride combined with the racing seats, the Competizione in particular is quite cumbersome to drive on bad or uneven roads. That said, its small dimensions do make it a joy to drive in and out of traffic. But the Abarth is a hot hatch and hot hatchbacks are rarely for people who want a comfortable family car.

Abarth 595 competizione  tracking rear 2
Engines & performance: 
The free revving nature of the 1.4-litre four cylinder multijet engine that makes 160PS and 230Nm of torque combined with the added advantages of a turbo makes this one of the creamiest engines we have driven in recent times. And then there is the exhaust note, which especially in sport mode is so exciting that comparing it to Pavarotti’s version of the Nessun Dorma wouldn’t amount to sacrilege.
Abarth 595 competizione engine
The Esseesse version we drove earlier in the year came with a 5-speed manual gearbox. The Competizione though comes with a more user friendly 5-speed AMT setup similar to the one found in the Tata Bolt or the new Maruti Suzuki Alto K10. In normal ‘D’ mode, the AMT does feel a little lazy although it does come to life when switched to sport mode which comes in handy when you feel like putting your foot down and going for that gap in traffic. Enthusiasts need not worry though, as Fiat will also launch a 5-speed manual gearbox version of the Abarth 500 along with the automatic. And having driven it before, the manual is certainly a lot more fun.
Abarth 595 competizione tracking rear
Handling & braking: 
A hot hatchback though is not only about plonking a big powerful engine into a small car and leaving everything else as it is. The best part about a hot hatchback has always been the way they love devouring corners and the Abarth 595 Competizione is no different. The 205/40 R17 tyres combined with the sportier Abarth suspension makes the 500 Essess handle like it is on rails. There is no hint of torque steer even when the full potential of the turbocharged engine is unleashed. The Abarth 500 Essesss handles uneven road surfaces and smoother tarmac with equal ease while involving the driver in every little decision. The large cross drilled and ventilated disc brakes on both front and rear wheels festooned with large red calipers too inspire confidence at any speed.
Abarth 595 competizione badges
Price and Fuel efficiency: 
The Abarth 595 Competizione begs to be driven like a hooligan. And with that comes consequences. Although the little hatch might be fuel efficient on paper, in the real world we struggled to get it into double digit numbers. That said, on the whole, it is most certainly worth it when compared to the sheer fun you can have in this tiny little car.
Abarth 595 competizione abarth badge
We also think that the Fiat 500 Abarth range will be priced at an ultra competitive price range of between Rs 25-30 lakh. Not only would this put it right in the cross hairs of the new MINI Cooper and the upcoming Volkswagen Beetle, but more conventional cars like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and theAudi A3. That said, none of the above seem to have the typically Italian flair that the Abarth does.

Abarth 595 competizione
The Abarth 500  Essesss is one of the few cars that is damn near perfect even with all its little niggles. It redefines cute while still managing to accelerate fast enough to make you fizzy inside. The interior exudes quality and although it is not as highly speced as its competitors, the Abarth 595 Competizione feels just as desirable. The combination of a turbocharged 4-pot engine and a manual or automatic gearbox, depending on the model you choose, too is as tempting as reaching out and touching the Mona Lisa. So the verdict is pretty clear cut on this one then.


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