- Cheerful design
- Fun to drive
- Low running costs
- Small back seats
- Only available as a three-door
- Automatic gearbox not as good as the manual
Great looking, fun to drive and affordable to run, the Abarth 595 is the perfect car for people who need a hatchback but want a sports car. Powerful engines and entertaining handling make it great on twisty roads, yet it’s affordable to buy and economical to run. It might not be as roomy as bigger cars, but what it lacks in rear legroom and boot space it makes up for with character - few cars will make you smile as much as this little Abarth.
The Abarth 595’s dashboard is attractive and smart, with a body-coloured strip that matches the exterior paintwork. All 595s come with Bluetooth, and are robustly built using high-quality materials. Some upmarket versions get a handy touchscreen infotainment system with sat nav built in.
Anyone sitting in the driver’s or front passenger seat gets plenty of head and leg room. The two back seats are a bit cramped for adult passengers on long journeys, but the space is ideal for children, and it’s easy to get in and out thanks to front seats that move forwards. The Abarth 595 is only available as a three-door, four-seater.
Although the boot is compact, the hatchback opening is wide and there’s space for a small suitcase and a couple of squashy bags. You can also fold the back seats forwards to make space for larger items.
The Abarth has been designed to be fun to drive, making every journey entertaining for the driver and passengers. The turbocharged engines deliver strong performance and the special sports exhaust system sounds great. It grips the road tightly, and its quick steering makes it feel agile through corners. The downside to the sporty setup is a firm ride, which means the 595 can get a little bouncy over bumps, but it’s generally pretty comfortable. Small dimensions and light controls make it easy to drive around town.
Despite the sparkling performance, the frugal engines are capable of up to 48.7mpg, while tax costs will be low. There’s plenty of standard kit, with all versions getting alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and air-con. Insurance costs are modest and the Abarth’s inexpensive maintenance costs will be similar to the Fiat 500.
The Abarth is based on the Fiat 500, which has a strong reputation for reliability and owner satisfaction. The Fiat finished strongly in the Auto Express Driver Power survey.
While the Abarth hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, the very similar Fiat 500 was awarded three stars, which is lower than some rivals. The 595 has the Fiat’s airbags and electronic driver aids, including stability control that prevents skidding in slippery conditions. The Abarth also has more powerful brakes and wider tyres for greater grip.
Best for economy - 1.4 T-Jet 145
Best for family - 1.4 T-Jet 145
Best for fun - 1.4 T-Jet 180 Esseesse
The standard Abarth 595 gets air con, Bluetooth connectivity and electric windows. Trofeo, Pista and Turismo trim levels come with more equipment such as climate control, plus more power from the engine. The Competitzione and Esseesse versions feature even more power, larger alloy wheels and special sports seats.
The Abarth comes with different turbocharged 1.4-litre engines which are all efficient. The 135hp version delivers a good blend of exciting performance and strong economy.