Abarth 595 (2008) Review

Abarth 595 (2008) At A Glance

3/5
Honest John Overall Rating
The Abarth 500, a storming little hot hatch with the requisite sporty looks as well as more power.

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

-Starting to feel its age.

New prices start from £14,560
Insurance Groups are between 13–36
On average it achieves 87% of the official MPG figure

Pocket rockets don’t get more handily-sized than the Abarth 595. It’s been around since 2008 when Fiat first tuned up the retro 500 and it still delivers an engaging driving experience. At the heart of the Abarth is a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine that delivers 145PS to see off 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds. It can also be had in hatch or Convertible forms, giving buyers a choice of how they indulge their dolce vita dreams. Of course, you could always choose the quicker versions with 165- or even 180PS engines that really do deliver that Abarth sting in the tail performance.

Long before Fiat launched its retro-cued 500 and turned up the wick with the Abarth models, fast and fun small cars were a relatively common sight on our roads. Most of the mainstream makers had a compact, lightweight pocket rocket ready to fire some excitement into your daily drive, yet by the time Abarth unveiled its first hotted-up modern 500 in 2008, the market had all but disappeared.

This was good news for Abarth as it suddenly found itself with no natural rivals and a steady stream of willing buyers who wanted something almost ridiculously small and potent. No wonder Abarth’s badge features a scorpion as this car has plenty of sting in its tail. Well, front, actually, as the modern 500 models are front-engined and front-wheel drive rather than punting all of the oily bits at the back as the original 1950s machines did.

No matter, Abarth gave its baseline model an update in 2012 that turned it into the 595 and this was improved again in 2018. So, what we have now is a range that starts with the straight 595 in either hatch or Convertible forms with a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine producing 145PS. That’s a decent amount in a car this small and it sees the 595 from 0-62mph in a sprightly 7.8 seconds.

However, it’s not in Abarth’s nature to leave things at ‘sprightly’, so there are more potent versions of the 595, starting with the Pista. It has the power turned up to 165PS to knock half a second off the 0-62mph dash. There’s also the Turismo version with the same power unit but more luxury kit such as leather upholstery, climate control and rear parking sensors. Quite why you need these in a car as small as the 595 beats us, but there you go.

If you want the full-on Abarth 595 experience, you need the Competizione or Esseesse. They pack a whopping 180PS under the diminutive bonnet and whisk away 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds.

So, you can see the 595 may be small, but it offers a wide range of options to buyers even in the face of increased opposition from the like of the Volkswagen Up GTI and Renault Twingo GT.

There’s no doubt that both of these rivals are more sophisticated cars in most senses, but this is part of the appeal of the Abarth 595. It’s a raw little car that delivers a big hit of fun and driving thrills. You only need to hear the noise it makes when you turn the key to start the engine to know it’s a little bit special and, maybe, just a bit pazzo. After all, why have a pint-sized hot hatch if it’s not going to make you smile every time you get in it?

Of course, there are downsides such as the 595’s handling and ride both feeling quite dated next to newer rivals. The cabin is best described as for two with occasional rear seats, while even the entry-point model is not what you’d call cheap when you can have the far superior Ford Fiesta ST for the same money.

 

Ask Honest John

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: http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/faq/consumer-rights/
Answered by Honest John
Scotchguarding a new car - is it worth it?
"I recall comments in the past about Scotchguarding the new cars. My dealer has offered to do the interior and exterior of my new Fiat Abarth 595 for £250. Is it worth the extra cost?"
I did this myself using the Auroglym Lifeshine dealer kit and the seats of my 500 Lounge remain as new. £250 is reasonable, but you can probably chip it down to £200.
Answered by Honest John
Which tyres for an Abarth 500?
"What tyre size would you recommend for a Abarth Turisimo - 16" or 17"? "
Definitely 16". Reasons in my road test: http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/abarth/abarth-500-2009-road-test//
Answered by Honest John
Which small 4x4 do you recommend?
"Can you please advise me as to what small 4x4 you would recommend to buy - taking into account emissions, a good driving experience, reliability and ride quality, and a big enough engine to gave reasonable performance?"
The smallest is the Fiat Panda 4x4, either 0.9 TwinAir or 1.3 Multijet diesel - a TwinAir recently broke the Cape to London record driven by Philip Young. The next smallest was the Toyota Urban Cruiser 1.4 D-4D 4WD, but that is now discontinued. Of comparable size, the MINI Countryman ALL4, Nissan Juke 1.6DIG-T CVT AWD, or the Suzuki SX4 AWD. There's also the Vauxhall Mokka (which I haven't driven). And, coming soon, the Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur and Ford EcoSport, though at least two of these will be offered with trick front diffs rather than 4WD. The ageing Suzuki Jimny is not nice to drive on the road.
Answered by Honest John

What does a Abarth 595 (2008) cost?