When Fiat launched the modern Fiat 500 in India, only a handful of people grasped its significant history. This time, however, they’ve brought in the louder 595 Competizione from their Abarth division – which brings with it even more history! We drive it to see what all the fuss is all about…
Some say that if you get stung by a big scorpion, you don’t have much to worry about. It’s the little ones you need to be careful of. It’s a similar story with the Abarth 595 Competizione. It doesn’t look intimidating, but if you poke it with a stick it will sting you!
In a small tiny shell that’s only 3.6 metres long, 1.6 metres wide, and under 1.5 metres tall, the mechanics of Fiat’s Abarth performance division have bolted in a 160bhp, 1.4 litre turbocharged 4-cylinder T-Jet engine. This yields a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 209km/h.
From the outside, any Fiat traditionalist will tell you, “it’s not a 500, it’s not nearly small enough.” That’s true when compared with the original, but due to modern regulations the proportions have to meet certain criteria – and, personally, I find nothing wrong with it. I just love the way this tiny little thing looks. And you can tell that the designers tried everything thing they could to make the car look as close to the original as possible – and, for the most part, they’ve managed to pull it off. The front looks almost identical to the original – except beefier to accentuate the performance it delivers.
The cabin isn’t too intimidating though, and seems quite basic with manual climate control. But what’s interesting is that instead of a gear lever, you get 4 buttons – Reverse, 1st, Automatic / Manual and Neutral. The cabin is quite spacious for a small car, and you get hip-hugging Sabelt racing style seats at the front. Though they offer an immense amount of support and are quite comfortable, they’re quite hard – which could prove to be a bit of a pain (literally) on long drives.
Driving the 595 on the road, I’ll admit, can get a bit frustrating because the suspension setup is quite firm. So you tend to rock about on our uneven roads, and the 5-speed AMT does get flustered occasionally when you’re driving through traffic. But find an open road, and there are only a handful of things in the world that can excite you as much as the 595 – but only if you know how to drive it! The trick, with an AMT, is to lift your foot briefly off the accelerator when you’re changing gears. Most people would just put their foot down, and tap the paddle on the right – following which the car responds with a shudder and struggles to change gear because the engine is still revving. To drive it quick, push the big button that says ‘Sport,’ lift off the throttle, flip the left paddle to change gear down and floor it. And every time you have to change up, lift off the throttle, hit the right paddle, and floor it again. If you do this correctly, you won’t lose power or momentum, and you can really feel the acceleration.
Repeat this process until you’re satisfied, and when you’re done introduce the 595 to a few corners. Gather a little bit of bravery, foot hard on the brakes, and turn it in. The 17” P-Zero Pirellis simply offer an immense amount of grip, and the hydraulic steering gives you so much feedback – frankly, the only word to describe this feeling is ‘funny.’ A car this tiny with this much power that handles this well can only come from the Italians. This little thing just devours corners – nothing else even comes close. A word of caution though – under hard braking from high speeds, the car can get a little twitchy. But that just adds to the fun. Yes, the rear seats might be a little cramped, the ride might be a bit too hard, and the gearbox a little finicky, but you just don’t care. It’s a really fun car to drive, and that’s all that matters. But does it justify the price tag? Well, I guess that depends on the size of your wallet…
- Abarth 595 Competizione
Engine: 1,368cc / in-line 4-cylinders / 16-valves / turbocharged
Transmission: 5-speed sequential automated manual gearbox with paddle shifters
Power: 160bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque: 230Nm @ 3000rpm
Price: Rs.29.85 lakhs(ex-showroom, Delhi)