Fiat introduced the performance version of the regular Abarth 500 – the Abarth 595 Competizione – in India on August 4, 2015. Unveiled at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo, the Abarth 595 Competizione has got more aggressive stance, powerful engine and robust on-track capabilities than the 500. It is fun-to-drive, and offers strong braking performance and high-speed stability. The Abarth 595 Competizione that rivals the Mini Cooper is imported via CBU (completely built up) route in India.
EXTERIOR AND LOOK ;
Glancing Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione pictures, the hatchback looks petite, yet it stands tall amid rivals all thanks to the boastful dimensions that make it appear vigorous. Accredit its stout built; the hatchback manages to appear sturdy despite its short length. Get to the front and the first thing you will notice is the short engine hood which blends smoothly into the front apron. Not to forget the iconic round shaped HID headlights that looks prominently captivating. Although, the absence of an embossed upper front grille is conspicuous but wide lower grille featuring fog lights and graphite insert makes up for it. The chrome treated outside rear view mirrors emerging a tad far from the A pillar look very sporty. 17 inch alloy rims mounted on the Pirelli PZero 205/40 tyres and Abarth Scorpion badge on each tyre lends butch look to the side profile. Along with this, the smooth beltline running from the head lamps to the tail lights renders a firm look. Outside door handles get graphite finishing hence accentuating the sporty character of the hatchback. Rear spoiler at the back not just appears sporty but also aides towards improved aerodynamics. Tail lights are designed suavely, dual tail pipes and chrome garnish at the rear looks plush. Side body decals again render sporty tinge to the hatchback. Fiat has provided sunroof on the top which is among one of the swanky features of the hatchback.
INTERIOR AND COMFORT ;
The Abarth 595 Competizione comes with a funky interior that is based on the standard Fiat 500. That said, strangely, the climate control system on the standard car had been replaced with a more traditional knob based AC unit. Strangely, the Esseesse version we drove earlier in the year came with the climate control unit. The Abarth 595 Competizione’s dashboard comes with large plastic slab on the dashboard that can be customised in a range of colors and designs according to taste of respective customers. The car we drove though had a very subdued dark grey interior package to go with the light grey exterior.
The interior with its function appeal and easy to understand dials and knobs does appeal to the sensible chap but needs a serious refresh for it to hold up against the likes of the new Mini. The Sabelt race seats are phenomenal and offer great support especially while pushing the little 500 to its limits. That said, the slightly well fed person might find the seats a tad bit uncomfortable. Although the 500 Abarth does have two seats in the back, realistically an average sized human would find it challenging to endure a long journey in the back of one.
The art-deco inspired Fiat 500 is a pretty good place to be in. The interior, in terms of pure spec, when compared to the likes of a Mini Cooper does feel a little outdated though with no large LCD screen and no extras like satellite navigation to give you company. And then the large childish turbo boost gauge grabs the attention of the 11 year old boy inside you and all is forgiven. The huge speedometer and tachometer console taken from the standard Fiat 500 looks well in place here with its unique gauge-in-gauge design. We especially love the way the LCD display in the gauges changes when you switch between normal and sport mode.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ;
The 595 Competizione packs a 1.4-litre, 16-valve DOHC four-pot, turbocharged petrol engine that already powers the T-Jet trim of Fiat India’s mid-size sedan, the Linea. However, in the 595, the unit has been uprated drastically to deliver far more output of 160 bhp at 5,500 rpm and a peak torque of 230 Nm at 3,000 rpm in the sport mode.
The powerplant is coupled with an automated manual transmission (AMT) that is based on the five-speed manual gearbox available internationally. Instead of a conventional shift lever, the 595 gets four buttons on the console space for the lever. The N button stands for Neutral, R for Reverse, 1 for normal Drive mode and A/M is for engaging the manual mode. While going in the manual mode, where you actually should be for most of the time driving this car, the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel comes into play and performs decently.
The engine has some serious turbo lag under the 3,000 rpm mark, though rushes towards the 6,500 rpm limiter quite eagerly post that. In the Auto mode, the gearbox seriously disappoints and shifts up really early, while the manual mode with the paddle shifters on duty, the scenario improves but again there’s a nervous pause while swapping cogs.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
First things first. The Abarth 500 is not exactly what you can call comfortable. In fact, with its super stiff suspension setup and its hard ride combined with the racing seats, the Competizione in particular is quite cumbersome to drive on bad or uneven roads. That said, its small dimensions do make it a joy to drive in and out of traffic. But the Abarth is a hot hatch and hot hatchbacks are rarely for people who want a comfortable family car.A hot hatchback though is not only about plonking a big powerful engine into a small car and leaving everything else as it is. The best part about a hot hatchback has always been the way they love devouring corners and the Abarth 595 Competizione is no different. The 205/40 R17 tyres combined with the sportier Abarth suspension makes the 500 Essess handle like it is on rails. There is no hint of torque steer even when the full potential of the turbocharged engine is unleashed. The Abarth 500 Essesss handles uneven road surfaces and smoother tarmac with equal ease while involving the driver in every little decision. The large cross drilled and ventilated disc brakes on both front and rear wheels festooned with large red calipers too inspire confidence at any speed.
The Fiat 500 has scored 5 stars safety rating at Euro NCAP and as expected Fiat doesn’t compromise on the safety aspect. The Abarth 595 comes with a long list of safety equipment on offer such as 5 airbags including multi-stage front airbags, driver inflatable knee bolster airbag and curtain airbags. There are race designed steel cage channels, three-mode electronic stability control, Hill Hold Control and ABS with hydraulic brake assist. There are only four exclusive dealerships for the Abarth 595 across the country – Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and New Delhi. Sadly no dealership for Mumbai, which is quite surprising. With a limited network of sales and service in India, don’t expect the after sales to be cheap and the car to be easy to maintain.
Normally I hate badge engineered cars, but the Abarth 595 is more than a Fiat 500 with a Scorpion badge on it. The exterior and interior are way nicer that what the 500 has to offer, and for a little car, it’s pretty quick too. It does seem like Abarth gets off a little cheap with the infotainment system, though. For the price of the 595, it should probably come standard with the seven-inch Uconnect system as opposed to the basic five-inch system. Even if it offered the navigation and phone connectivity as standard on the five-inch system, I would be a little more impressed, but those are just more items on a long list of options. Either way, the Abarth 595 isn’t coming to the U.S., so I’ll leave it to our European counterparts to complain more about that.