I was a demon behind the wheel of the 2021 Fiat Abarth 595c Competizione. I owned my place on the road and I accelerated hard out of the bends that wind through Diamond Harbour. It might look dinky, but boy, this Fiat is fierce.
A push on the accelerator and it roars, crackles and spits. Behind the wheel, it’s reactive to each slight movement – especially in Sports mode, which was sold to me as the only way to drive it. Having now experienced it, I’d tell you to do the same. Get the hang of the gear-changing paddles on the steering wheel and you’ll take things one notch better.
Don’t go looking for P for park, D for drive, or even a gearstick. It’s all about the buttons – 1 to go and N (neutral), plus the handbrake when you’re done. If you want full control, the A/M button passes the reins over to the paddles along in Manual, or mix it up, and use both, in Automatic.
It gets its race-car oomph by being an Abarth – the Fiat’s sport brand. Inside, there’s the turbo boost gauge, aluminium sports pedals, flat-bottomed leather steering wheel and leather seats, complete with race-car cutouts. On the mechanical side of things, come the Garrett turbo charger and the Monza exhaust. That tell-tale throaty growl will ensure everyone knows your movements – there’s no doubt that they will hear you coming. Even on the city streets it is a real headturner – and no doubt those rubberneckers get a surprise when they see what is making all that racket.
The test car was the cabriolet, which added another fun element to this sporty runabout. Its retractable soft-top roof can be opened all the back to the boot, or else there are two settings that see it stop on the roof line, for a sunroof-like offering.
This pint-sized pocket rocket will get you out of carpooling (technically a four-seater, but she’s tight!), and you wouldn’t go near it with a children’s car seat. The boot space is 185 litres, the same as a Holden Spark and less than a Mini (211 litres), so airport runs are also off the table.
However, if all car and no responsibility is what you’re looking for, this is one very rowdy runabout with attitude.
I found myself driving aggressively and listening to rock music. Don’t knock it till you try it.
Its surprisingly grunty engine noise.
The 18cm touchscreen display is simple to use and complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There’s only rear parking sensors, no camera
– though visibility is great.
No cruise control to keep a heavy foot from breaking the limits!
Length 3657mm, width 1627mm, height 1485mm
1368cc 4-cylinder turbo petrol
Front wheel drive
0–100km/h 6.9 sec
Max speed 225km/h
Test vehicle $47,990 + orc.
Abarth 595 Series 5 from $29,990 + orc.