Easy on the eye

Although based on the Fiat 500, the inside of the 595 is pure Abarth. Four sporty trim levels are offered – the entry-level 595 through Turismo, Competizione and range-topping Esseesse. The dashboard matches the trim level’s exterior body colour, e.g. the Turismo has a Satin Grey dashboard whereas the Competizione comes with one in Anthracite Grey.

Other interior features include an Alcantara-upholstered cockpit, race car-inspired stand-alone rev counter, an aluminium gear knob, leather sports seats and satin chrome accents on the door release handles. There is also a Visibility Plus Pack, which features full LED automatic self-levelling headlights, LED daytime running lights, rain sensor, dust sensor, headlight washer and rear parking sensors.

There is plenty of head and shoulder room in the front to keep occupants comfy for short journeys but space for rear-seat passengers is quite cramped. Storage-wise, the 185-litre boot has just enough space for a weekly shop although the rear 50/50 seatbacks can be flipped forward to enable larger items to be carried. The door bins are a little narrow and the glovebox is fairly small. Two cupholders are located in the front centre console and none in the back given the absence of a rear armrest.

Staying entertained and connected

A Uconnect system is standard across the range. Compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, its notable connectivity features include:

  • My Remote: checks the battery charge level from a smartphone; schedule vehicle charging during the most convenient periods; know the exact location of the car; lock and unlock the doors and set the climate control system.
  • My Navigation: set the destination on the car navigator, identify the route, check the traffic and weather conditions along the route, and see a speed camera and charging point locations, all directly from the app.
  • My Assistant: an assistance system to supplement an emergency call to talk to with assistant to ask for help in the event of a breakdown.
  • My Theft assistance: this tracks the car so that it can be recovered if stolen.
  • My Wi-Fi: A true hotspot that connects up to eight electronic devices to the network at the same time.
  • My Car: to check the condition of the car, immediately verifying various parameters from tyre pressure to the service schedule.

Audio-wise, a BeatsAudio system is available. It has a total output of 480 W and features an 8-channel digital amplifier with an equalization algorithm that can recreate the entire sound spectrum that an artist experiences during studio recordings. The system consists of two dome tweeters located in the front pillars; two 165-mm mid-woofers in the front doors; two 165-mm full-range speakers in the rear side panels; and a centre-positioned 200-mm subwoofer in the spare wheel compartment in the boot.

On the road

A notable standard feature of the refreshed range is the “Sport mode” selector, renamed “Scorpion mode” in the new range. Pressing the button on the dashboard affects peak torque delivery, power steering calibration and engine response to the accelerator pedal, making them sharper.

The 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine is available in three output levels: the 595 runs at 145 hp, rising to 165 on the Turismo version, while the Competizione and Esseesse run at 180 hp.

Our Competizione uses a Brembo braking system with 4-piston aluminium monobloc fixed callipers. Red callipers are standard, with the option to change to either grey, black or yellow, and are paired with self-ventilating, perforated 305mm discs. The road-holding is enhanced by the Koni FSD (Frequency Selective Damping) shock absorbers, standard on both front and rear for enhanced handling and stability.

Other eye-catching refinements to the exterior include some new colours.  The Competizione is the new Rally Blue, a matt colour inspired by the Fiat 131 Abarth Rally of the 1970s, while the new 17-inch alloy wheels are a nod to those of the 1990s Lancia Delta Rally Integrale. The body colour body kit specific to this version is available in combination with the new Rally Blue or Scorpione Black colours.  The Esseesse incorporates new titanium tailpipes for the Akrapovič exhaust system to give it a little more panache. All models are fitted with polyelliptical headlights and LED daytime running lights as standard.

Three Abarth tune-up kits are also available for drivers looking to further distinguish their car. The 160HP Tune-Up Kit increases engine power from 145 to 160 HP. The conversion also includes Koni front and rear suspensions, Eibach low-ride front and rear springs, Ferodo brake pads and Abarth Elaborazione exterior badge. The kit is supplied to the customer in a wooden crate which hints at the Abarth conversion kit of the past. The 180HP Tune-Up Kit for Turismo includes Koni front suspensions, Brembo floating front brake discs with red callipers, Ferodo brake pads, and an Abarth Elaborazione badge. The Record Monza Exhaust System Kit includes Esseesse white and titanium rims, mirror caps, pillar liners and carbon fibre dashboard fascia, gear knobs, kick plates and pedal boards made of aluminium and carbon fibre.

On balance, the retro-styled Abarth 595 interior looks cool and has bags of character. It is fun to drive yet comfortable and practical to live with on a day-to-day basis. Rival models include the Ford Fiesta ST, Suzuki Swift Sport and VW UP GTI.