2022 Abarth 595 Competizione review

This firecracker hits the road delivering big thrills in a tiny package, but one type of person might want to avoid it.

This little Italian firecracker is full of personality, delivering plenty of thrills along with a few unique quirks.

Here are five things you need to know about the Abarth 595 Competizione.

THERE AREN’T MANY CUTER CARS ON THE ROAD

If cars sold on emotion alone, the Abarth 595 Competizione would be a runaway success. The pimped out Fiat 500 looks sensational in Rally Blue matt paint with yellow Brembo brake calipers and quad exhausts. With its wheels pushed to the extremities of its tiny body, it’s Italy’s spiritual rival for the Mini Cooper S. The sporty theme continues inside with a flat-bottomed, perforated leather and suede steering wheel and snug-fitting bucket seats trimmed in diamond-patterned leather, with embossing on the head rest.

BUT IT’S NOT CHEAP TO BE FASHIONABLE

The Competizione starts at $32,950, which is lineball with other hot hatches such as the Ford Fiesta ST, Hyundai i20 N and Volkswagen Polo GTI. If you want all the trimmings, though, it becomes an expensive exercise. The special Rally Blue paint job is $1600, those yellow calipers are $350 and the body kit costs $2450. A $2500 premium pack adds xenon headlights and a sunroof, while the sport pack (also $2500) includes Sabelt race seats, 17-inch black wheels and suede highlights on the dash. The final tally on our press car came to $42,350 plus on-roads, or roughly $47,000 in the traffic. To add insult to injury, the little turbo four-cylinder drinks premium unleaded only and the warranty is a skinny three years/150,000km.

THEY LEFT PLENTY OUT

That premium price tag would be easier to swallow if the Abarth provided the safety aids and creature comforts you’re entitled to expect from a modern car. Alas, there’s no cruise control, no reversing camera, no auto emergency braking and no blind-spot monitoring. The 7-inch touchscreen is on the small side and can be fiddly to navigate, although it does sync with smartphones and it has built-in satnav. Elsewhere the cabin feels pretty down-market, with lots of hard plastic panels.

BASKETBALLERS NEED NOT APPLY

Admittedly, space is low on the priority list for hot hatch buyers, but it’s in very short supply in the Abarth. The combination of a highset driver’s seat and a sunroof that eats into head room means the Abarth is cramped for average-sized people. If you’re taller than six foot, make sure you take it for a test drive. Over one large-ish bump I whacked my head on the side pillar. The back seat is strictly a kids-only affair behind the driver. With a bit of mixing and matching on the passenger side, you could squeeze in two smaller adults. The boot is tiny as well, and there’s a repair kit in lieu of a spare under the load floor.

IT’S FUN TO DRIVE

The Abarth is a whippet on the road: light, nimble and quick off the mark. The 1.4-litre turbo puts out a modest 132kW and 250Nm but its feather weight means it can reach 100km/h in just 6.7 seconds. That puts it on by with the Ford and the Hyundai. The exhaust note is a hoot, too. It sounds positively feral when the car is being pushed hard in sport mode. The suspension is a mixed bag, though. The car feels planted and secure on smooth surfaces, but it can skip over mid-corner corrugations, unsettling the car. Around town, it’s very firm, crashing over bumps and sharp edges. The five-speed manual gearbox is slick and precise but an extra cog would make for more serene progress on the highway, where the engine revs high at the speed limit.

.

Leave a Comment