Review: Abarth 595C (2010)


Huge fun to drive with great handling, zesty performance from turbocharged 1.4-litre engine, plenty of scope for personalisation.

Rather bouncy ride, first cars only available with semi-auto transmission which isn't great in automatic mode, poor rear visibility.

Abarth 595C (2010): At A Glance

The Abarth 500C is simply an Abarth 500 fitted with the full length canvas electric sunroof of the FIAT 500C.

Since the Abarth brand reached the UK in 2008, it caught the imagination of drivers looking for something exclusive, stylish and sporty. Sales of the Abarth 500 and the Abarth Grande Punto have exceeded the firm's expectations and so introducing an Abarth version of the chic Fiat 500C is an obvious move.

Abarth re-engineered the standard 500C, giving it some unique features, great performance and a distinctively sporty style. It's powered by the same 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine as the Abarth 500 with power boosted by 5PS to 140PS. The buzzy engine gives the Abarth 500C great performance and it is a hugely enjoyable engine to drive, with a great exhaust note and plenty of low down poke.

Of course, having the open-top 500 means you're able to appreciate that racy sound even more and in the summer, with the roof down, it's a real feelgood car to travel in. It's not all show and no go though. Along with the turbocharged performance, the Abarth 500C has re-tuned suspension to deliver agile and precise handling. There's also a new system called TTC which mimics a limited slip differential and makes the Abarth 500C sharp into corners, helped by very little body roll.

Unusually, the Abarth 500C wasn't immediately available with a manual gearbox. Instead it started off with a five-speed semi-automatic Competizione gearbox which dispensed with the traditional gearlever and replaced it with buttons on the dash along with gear shift paddles on the steering wheel.

The cabin of the Abarth 500C is as sporty as the outside with some unique features and a great hot hatch feel. And for those seeking the ultimate Abarth 500C there's also an optional esseesse pack which boosts engine power to 160bhp, speeds up the gearbox shift times and adds larger alloys.

What does a Abarth 595C (2010) cost?

List Price from £16,960
Buy new from £14,593
Contract hire from £168.22 per month

Abarth 595C (2010): What's It Like Inside?

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

Full specifications

The interior of the Abarth 500C is suitably sporty and special enough to remind you that this is a performance car. The first thing you notice is the chunky leather steering wheel which is flat at the bottom and features the stylish Abarth badge. It's great to hold and although there's no reach adjustment on the steering column, the well positioned driver's seat (which adjusts for height) means finding a good driving position is simple.

Models with the Competizione gearbox don't have a gear lever at all. Instead it's replaced by four buttons on the dash along with two paddles on the back of the steering wheel, one for changing up and the other for down shifting. The absence of a gear stick looks quite strange, but the system is easy to use, although you do have to have a quick glance down to remind yourself where neutral or reverse are.

The sports seats are good too and provide plenty of side support for when you're tackling tight bends. Like the Fiat 500C, the layout is very chic with the coloured dash panel helping keep things bright while the quality feels good too. The big single instrument dial is housed under a leather covered dome with red stitching and there's also an extra dial to the left which acts a turbo boost guage.

Even taller driver's will find there's plenty of leg and headroom in the front of the 500C, although it's considerably more cramped in the back. The boot is a different design to the Abarth 500 so it can accommodate the roof, but cleverly is only slightly smaller with 182 litres of luggage space.

The double-layered roof is identical to the one used on the Fiat 500C and can be opened by a button next to the interior light or by using the key fob. It can be slid part-way back - like a sunroof - or all the way back like a convertible, working quickly and smoothly. It also operates at up to 37mph, useful if you get caught in a sudden downpour.

With the roof down you can enjoy the raspy exhaust note even more, while inside it's reasonably quiet with only slight wind buffetting, although the optional wind stop certainly helps to reduce this. The standard seats come in a black fabric upholstery but leather is available as an option and certainly adds a chic feel to the interior.

The one big gripe is rear visibility. With the roof up, the view out the back is severely restricted, as there's only a small rear window. It's even more of a problem when there are passengers in the rear while with the roof slid all the way back, it's not much better as the folded fabric sits right in your line of sight. So it's useful that parking sensors come as standard.

Equipment from launch (July 2010):

All models come with seven airbags (including side airbags and a driver's knee airbag), ESP stability control, a hill hold function, TTC torque transfer control, xenon headlights, height-adjustable steering, electric front windows, electric door mirrors, manual air conditioning, front fog lights, rear parking sensors, electric fabric roof with built-in spoiler, CD stereo with steering wheel controls, Blue&Me hands-free system with a USB port, a leather steering wheel, sie skirts, twin chromed exhaust pipes, sports pedals, sports seats, 16-inch alloy wheels.

Optional extras include a leather sports interior, automatic climate control, a wind stop, tow-tone paint finishes, 17-inch alloy wheels, side stripes and red brake calipers.

Child seats that fit a Abarth 595C (2010)

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?

What's the Abarth 595C (2010) like to drive?

The Abarth 500C is powered by the same 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine that's used in the Abarth 500 hatchback. The ECU has been reprogrammed to add another 5PS, boosting overall power to 140PS. The extra power is there to compensate for the weight of the sliding roof mechanism in the 500C, giving it a 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds - only slightly slower than the Abarth 500.

It's certainly quick enough on the move and has a real buzzy feel about it. Thanks to the sports exhaust pipes, there's also suitably raspy exhaust note when you accelerate, something which can be even more appreciated with the roof down. The engine is incredibly flexible, helped by the fact it boasts more than 200Nm of torque, so it doesn't need to always be revved hard to get decent performance, pulling well from low down.

However, it's most impressive when pressing on when it's hugely enjoyable to exploit the power on tap. 140PS might not sound that much compared to other hot hatches, but it's enough to give the Abarth 500C meaningful pace and means it's able to put its power down cleanly without struggling for front end grip. Economy is good too at 43.5mpg along with CO2 emissions of 151g/km.

The 500C was initially only available with an MTA (Manual Transmission Automated) semi-automatic transmission (the manual came later). The five-speed system does away with a gear lever, replacing it with four buttons on the dash plus paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

This means that on twisting country lanes you can concentrate more on your steering and cornering without having to worry too much about changing gear. In manual mode, the shifts are quick without any drop off in performance, although it's useful to come off the power in order to make gear changes smoother. You simply pull the right lever to change up and the left-hand one to shift down.

There's also an Auto mode but it's not the best and seems to constantly want to change gear, often when not necessary, such as when slowing down. As a result, it will often be in a lower gear than you'd expect. There's a Sport button on the dash which speeds up the gear change times (in both manual and auto modes), increases steering weight and engages the Torque Transfer Control (or TTC for short).

The TTC is a clever system that mimics a limited slip differential by braking the inside wheel in a corner, making turning in more precise. It works very well and means that the 500C feels very keen in corners with responsive steering. Strong yet progressive brakes along with impressive body control complete what it a great car to drive.

There is a downside - the firm ride. It struggles on uneven roads and feels quite busy, but it's much better on smoother roads such as motorways. It's certainly better on the standard 16-inch alloys rather than the optional 17-inch wheels, but considering this is as a sporty hatchback, it's exactly what you'd expect.

As with other Abarth models, an esseesse performance upgrade kit is available. This boosts engine power to 160PS and further speeds up shift times on the MTS gearbox and also features upgraded brakes plus 17-inch alloy wheels. If you want a more extreme Abarth, it's certainly worth the extra. It even arrives at the dealer (who will fit it for you) in a branded wooden crate which you get to keep afterwards.

There's plenty of scope to personalise your Abarth 500C with a variety of colour options. The roof is available in either black or titanium grey and there are new two-tone paint schemes including a Scorpion Black top section and a Gara White lower. Alternatively you can have Pista Grey on top with Campovolo Grey below. There is also a vast array of colour and strip combinations.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.4 T-Jet 44 mpg 7.9–8.1 s 151–155 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 135 44 mpg 7.9 s 139 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 140 58 mpg 7.9 s 139 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 140 MTA 43–60 mpg 8.1 s 134–150 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 145 42–42 mpg 7.8 s 139–154 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 145 MTA 49 mpg - 134 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 160 41–58 mpg 7.3–7.4 s 139–155 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 160 MTA 44–60 mpg 7.6 s 151 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 165 42–47 mpg 7.3 s 139–155 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 165 MTA 42–43 mpg 7.3–7.4 s 134–151 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 175 36 mpg 6.7 s 139 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 175 MTA 37 mpg 6.9 s 134 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 180 42–58 mpg 6.7–6.9 s 134–155 g/km
1.4 T-Jet 180 MTA 42–60 mpg 6.7–6.9 s 134–153 g/km
595 44 mpg 7.4 s 155 g/km
595 MTA 44 mpg 7.6 s 151 g/km

Real MPG average for a Abarth 595C (2010)

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

36–43 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 595C (2010)?

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

Which small petrol hatchbacks have a sunroof and navigation?

I would like to buy a smallish petrol hatchback that has a sunroof and navigation, between 1 and 3 years old. What would you suggest?
FIAT 500C, Citroen C1 1.2 Airscape, Peugeot 108 1.2 Airscape, Renault Twingo Colour Run.
Answered by Honest John
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