26 September 2023

A Fading Pocket Rocket

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By Paul Gover.

Cars like the Abarth 595 are dying fast.

For a start, it’s a baby car and the world is turning – has turned – to compact SUVs for the city and suburbs.

It’s also a manual, it has a pop-bang antisocial turbo engine, and costs a lot.

But what a fun toy.

It’s the sort of car that makes every drive a fun run. And it’s super easy to park at the end of the trip.

Right now, the Abarth 595 is the last survivor in the Fiat 500 line-up. The next time there is a new 500 it will be a battery-electric car.

So, even though only 357 cars were sold through the whole of 2022, those cars went to people who love what they drive.

And that’s the thing about the Abarth 595 – from the sporty sub-brand at Fiat – because it is all about driving.

It has a punchy little turbo engine with lots of torque and plenty of aural excitement, especially with the car in the ultra-responsive sports mode.

It also has a slick five-speed manual gearshift, ultra-direct steering and brakes that really bite.

Officially, the Abarth 595 with its scorpion badge on the tail is a four-seater. But they would need to be good friends or a young family.

As for the boot – the back seats make more sense.

The front seats are also set too high for me, making it feel like I’m perched on the car and not snuggled into it, but that’s a personal thing.

It’s undeniable that the Abarth 595 is great on twisty roads or jumping from red light to red light in the suburbs. It also makes a definite statement if you’re visiting friends or arriving for a party.

Think of it as a shrunken Ferrari …

Look at it that way, and the connection is as obvious as the leather trim and the lack of cupholders – many Italians think you should always stop for coffee and drinking anything is a driving a distraction – in the baby Abarth.

There is also an engine which is always keen to get going, although it can be thirsty if you always drive in sport.

So, really, it’s likely to be a second car to park alongside a family SUV – perhaps the latest Alfa Romeo Tonale – for quick shopping runs or a bit of weekend fun.

It’s a car that makes driving less of a chore and more of an event, and it’s always easy to park at any destination.

But don’t hang around, because the Abarth 595 is not going to last much longer.


Position: pocket rocket

Price: $36,400

Engine: 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol

Power: 132kW/250Nm

Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive

Plus: fun, fun, fun

Minus: quirky, thirsty, single-focus

THE TICK: not for everyone

Score: 8/10

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