Review: Abarth 595 (2008)


Transforms the Fiat 500 into an eager little sportscar with great handling and steering feel.

Starting to feel its age.

Abarth 595 (2008): At A Glance

The Abarth 500, created by FIAT's in house tuning arm, tuened the cute and fashionable FIAT 500 into a storming little hot hatch with the requisite sporty looks as well as more power.

Fitted with a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine developing 135PS, the light weight Abarth 500 is good for a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds. That may not sound that quick compared to other hot hatches, but the Abarth is more than just sheer power.

Thanks to its short wheelbase, direct steering and sports suspension, it has an old school hot hatch feel with a buzzy nature and sharp handling. It's not a car for comfort, but it's great fun to drive and looks the part too. While the standard 500 is fairly elegant, the Abarth version adds a beefy bodykit with larger bumpers complete with a big front air intake, a rear diffuser amd dual exhausts. There's also a choice of 16-inch and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Along with the special Abarth badging, which replaces the regular Fiat branding, the Abarth 500 also gets special touches inside, including sports seats with red stitching, a leather sports steering wheel and special instrumentation with a turbo pressure gauge.

Early Abarth 500 models were available with the £2500 optional esseesse kit which got stiffer springs, special 17-inch alloys, upgraded brakes and - most crucially - more power with the 1.4 engine boosted to 160PS.

In 2012 the range was overhauled with the new Abarth 595 Turismo and the 595 Competizione versions added. These get the more powerful 160PS version of the 500 engine along with a host of extras.

Abarth 500 2009 Road Test and Video

Abarth 695 Biposto 2015 Road Test

What does a Abarth 595 (2008) cost?

List Price from £16,960
Buy new from £14,593
Contract hire from £165.60 per month

Abarth 595 (2008): What's It Like Inside?

Length 3657–3660 mm
Width 1627–1893 mm
Height 1480–1490 mm
Wheelbase 2300 mm

Full specifications

You do get a superfluous turbo boost gauge in a pod on top of the dash, with a ‘change up' arrow in the middle in case you're deaf. But you don't lose the 500's excellent Blue & Me Bluetooth phone system and trip and functions computer.

And, like the 500, you can get four people inside comfortably.

You can have an Abarth 500 in any colour you want as long as it's Bossa Nova White, Scorpion Black, Crossover Black metallic, Pasodoble Red, Funk (pearl) white, and a new one: solid Campovolo Grey, as on the car in the video. That costs an extra £250 over standard Bossa Nova White. Crossover Black Metallic is an extra £375. And, as with the FIAT 500, Funk (pearl) white is an extra £700.

Give a big hand to the Italians. They've taken a cute little car that you love despite its faults. And made huge fun to be with.

The Abarth 500 is available in both standard trim and in esseesse (SS) form. The regular model is well equipped, with air-conditioning, electric front windows, seven airbags, electrically adjustable body coloured door mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels, an Interscope sound system with radio, CD and MP3 file player, and Fiat's innovative and unique Blue&Me hands-free communication system.

Optional equipment includes 17-inch wheels, Abarth leather interior, an electrochromatic anti-dazzle mirror, automatic climate control, and chequered roof stickers. There's also Blue&Me MAP which employs motor racing technology to help drivers improve their skills at the wheel through telemetry, in addition to offering regular satellite navigation.

The esseesse version allows drivers to further upgrade their car's performance courtesy of a retro-fit kit. This boosts engine power to 160bhp using a re-mapped ECU (Electronic Control Unit) and new air filter, as well as adding uprated brakes and springs along with unique 17-inch wheels.

In both regular and esseesse guise, the Abarth 500 interior has an uncompromisingly sporty feel. The one-piece leather-covered sports seats hug the driver and front passenger, and the thick-rimmed flat-bottomed steering wheel looks and feels as though it's been lifted from a sports car costing twice the price. There's a dash-mounted turbo boost gauge and gear shift indicator to help drivers get the most out of the Abarth 500's performance when the Sport button is pressed, and to aid economy when it isn't.

Child seats that fit a Abarth 595 (2008)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

Real MPG average for a Abarth 595 (2008)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

28–49 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Abarth 595 (2008)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Have I void my Fiat warranty?

I was driving my fiat 500 Abarth recently. As I pulled out of a junction on to a busy main road and changed gear my vehicle revved very high and jumped into neutral. I quickly shut the engine off and was stuck on the middle of a busy roundabout with it making a horrendous noise from the gearbox. I managed to get my car towed to my local dealer, but have been told my warranty is void because I have serviced the car myself. I think this is unfair. I used genuine parts bought from the dealership. I also work as a service technician and am very much aware that no service will inspect a gearbox so it shouldn't come into this matter unless it is due a fluid change under a age and mileage interval of which it has not reached.
You voided the FIAT warranty by self-servicing the car. But you could take the original supplying dealer to court under sale of goods legislation and subsequent case law:
Answered by Honest John
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