Test Drive: Abarth 595C Competizione: as long as it exists…

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This time, the Abarth 595C Competizione comes in a matt blue colour reminiscent of Fiat’s great rallying days in the 1970s and is once again playful and always ready to growl. When you press the scorpion button, a real storm breaks out, releasing the full 180 bhp power from the little 1.4 T-jet engine. Afterwards, it’s just a matter of holding the steering wheel tightly…

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The 17-inch black alloy wheels are part of the Performance Pack, which also includes the installation of a mechanical limited slip differential. In this case, the perforated and ventilated front brake discs (305×28 mm) are anchored by fixed 4-piston yellow calipers, courtesy of Brembo. Front and rear shocks are Konis and feature an FSD valve. Let’s not forget about the proprietary 4 tailpipe exhaust very aptly named “Monza” which adds so much to the sporty feel and atmosphere.

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I like it

Since the launch of the Nuova 500 back in 2007, the interior hasn’t changed much.  We discovered some new nice alcantara touches that add a little bit of exclusivity to it, as well as a leather and alcantara steering wheel.  However, we would have put the latter where the hands rest… the carbon touches suit it quite well. Finally, there’s the gearstick ball, something not to be found in any other sports car and that inevitably reminds us of the legendary V- Tec Hondas.

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Quite clever

Even though the exhaust noise is quietened by the increasingly strict European standards, the Abarth 595C Competizione still is music to our ears and is even better enjoyed when the Belgian weather allows it. Press the magic button and you’ll get some work on your hands behind the wheel. Just what we like. A far cry from the sanitized pseudo-sports cars we are constantly fed with these days. In the little Abarth, it’s all about being focused and reactive when you put your foot to the floor. The front end precision is quickly jeopardized when the power is unleashed and the car bounces on our small country bumpy roads. This means that you have to anticipate and know the road you’re driving on pretty well if you don’t want to end up on the left side when exiting a bend. We must admit that we enjoy this a lot but mastering this Scoprion beast is easier for experienced drivers.

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I don’t like it

The evocative Sabelt bucket seats contribute to the overall racing atmosphere of this little nervous beast but unfortunately they reinforce the feeling of being badly seated. They are positioned way too high and can only be adjusted fore and aft. This means you have to adjust the backrest angle to avoid touching the top of the car and that forces you to drive in a « bent over » position, which is not to our taste at all. The dashboard and door panels plastics could be better feeling and ergonomics are really a mixed bag, with the side windows’ switches placed in the centre of the dashboard :  you never look for them there!

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Why I buy it

These days, the slightest slip of a car is synonymous with an accident in the collective mind. We are delighted to be able to find a car with a real personality, something not that common  on today’s market. Of course, taking full advantage of the 595 Competizione‘s capabilities, means you’ll have to be totally focused, but we do love its bad temper and its messy front end. Mastering the 500 gives you a certain pride and the feeling of having been useful behind the wheel… totally at odds with those cars whose on-board systems manage everything for you. Speaking of on-board systems, let’s note that it gets the standard 7-inch infotainment screen, compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Geeks will appreciate this while the rest of us won’t care.

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Why I don’t buy it

If, like many drivers, you’ve been corrupted by all the driving aids and spend most of your time on your smartphone, this Abarth is clearly not for you. You won’t find a lane departure warning system or a blind spot detector to warn you with lights and bells. There’s no cruise control either. In fact, the only so-called “electronic aids” available on the car are light and rain sensors plus park distance control. However, Fiat charges €350 for these ! The car itself starts from €26.990 but discounts are always on the Abarth agenda. One last piece of advice: forget about comfort with this car, it’s more notional than anything else with this lovely little Abarth. (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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