Ahatchback is supposed to be cute and funky, and especially when it comes from the house of Fiat. The Fiat 500 looked every bit cute in its standard avatar and then the Italian manufacturer decided to give it a more performance oriented touch. The car in discussion here is the recently launched Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione, which although is cute and good looking from the outside, packs a lot of thunder beneath the hood, a 160 horsepower engine that turns the cute looking car into a maniac.
We tested the car at the famous Buddh International Circuit to know if the performance and the looks alone can justify the steep price tag, or is the Abarth 595 more than that? Here's our test drive review of the Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione.
When it comes to the exterior design, the Abarth 595 Competizione retains the cuteness of the Fiat 500, to an extent that it's hard to differentiate the two if given a look in a casual manner. The 2-door hatchback has small proportions and sits low with the familiar oval theme all-around, including the headlights and overall design language. The first thing to notice on the 595 is the intimidating Scorpion badges, the official insignia of Abarth. The 17-inch petal shaped rims, a big spoiler at the rear, twin exhaust with two pipes each, and few body graphics makes it look chic yet aggressive. The overall design is extremely beautiful and mean at the same time and will make many heads turn when you take out the car for a spin.
Like the exteriors, the interiors also carry the same theme forward from the Fiat 500, albeit with a bit sports touch. The all-black interior has a bit of silver brushing through the console, which looks sporty. Abarth hasn't used much leather finish on the console, and most of the parts are made of hardened plastic with good finish. The big steering wheel occupies most of the cabin space and is complemented by round AC vents, instrument control, and gearbox. Yes, you read it right, the gear lever has been replaced by 4 buttons, which read - A/M for automatic and manual selection, 1 for drive, N for neutral and R for reverse. While the front seats are sporty and made specially for Abarth cars by Sabelt, the rear seats are nothing to be proud of, and best left luggage. The overall built quality of the Abarth 595 cabin is good, and has a little touch of dramatics.
Engine, Performance and Gearbox
Well, since we are talking about Abarth, it's all about the engine and performance. The 595 Competizione gets its juice from a 1.4-litre T-Jet engine petrol unit that produces 160 HP of power and 230 Nm of torque and is mated to a 5 speed AMT gearbox. Now comes the interesting part. The 595 comes equipped with two power modes - a Normal and a Sport mode. While the power delivery in the normal mode is a bit laid back, the gearshift a bit lazy and steering is light, the Sports mode is where the true performance hides.
Switch to the sports mode, press the throttle and see the difference. The hot hatch is completely changed and you get a more responsive and tighter steering, an eager engine that demands to be revved and a lot quicker gearbox. Which also brings us to the gearbox performance. The gearbox, on the auto mode, does its duty well enough, but not like the paddle shifts, which gives you the best out the hatch. Fiat claims that the 595 does 0-100 kmph in 7.6 seconds with a top speed of 205 kmph.
Ride and Handling
As in the case of any performance based car, the ride is stiff and city driving can be a bit of an issue in the Abarth 595, if you are looking for comfort. But as you pick up the pace, you will easily neglect the stiffness as we did on the track. Fiat has installed Dual valve Koni shock absorbers in the Abarth 595 to get a plush ride, which, we the low-profile tyres offset. As for the handling, the low stance ensures it sticks to the tarmac at high speed cornering, while the responsive steering ensures that driving it in the city is not much of a hassle.
Safety and Equipment
The Abarth 595 is not a well equipped car if the price tag is considered. It comes with a manual climate control, a 7-inch TFT display, a Bluetooth music system with handsfree, and 17" alloy wheels. In terms of the safety, the Abarth 595 comes equipped with 5 airbags and self ventilated oversized perforated disk brakes.
While we are immensely happy that performance hatchbacks are making their way to India, we are skeptical about their sales. But, come on, these products are not meant for the masses, but for those who seek thrill and are willing to shell out a large sum for that. Abarth 595 is one such car that will definitely rock the streets, not only the way it looks, but with its performance also, and will brighten your day up if you need that adrenaline rush to uplift the mood.