Test driving the FIAT Abarth 595 Competizione

Sep 06, 2015, 08:37 IST | Ravi Chandnani

The FIAT Abarth 595 Competizione looks cute, but that's no reason to underestimate this feisty creature

Beauty, brains and brawn seldom come together in the same package. The FIAT Abarth 595 Competizione — the Italian company's latest offering for India — is fortunately an exception.

It is essentially the FIAT 500 and, therefore looks just as cute, but it's a rather special 500. Abarth, FIAT's performance division, have worked its magic on this vehicle and put a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine with 160 PS and 230 Nm in it. The result is phenomenal.

Indeed, this feisty little FIAT scores very high on the grin factor (born out of the car's fun-to-drive nature) and emotional quotient (a result of superb Italian flair).

The cabin is matched by its performance-oriented persona. A black theme with a generous dose of red trimmings gives it a racy appearance. Not to mention, the flat-bottom steering wheel, a huge digital instrument console and the turbo boost gauge.

The turbocharged
1,368 cc T-Jet petrol engine is a delight on the track, thanks to its delicious mid and top-end grunt. The Abarth 595 Competizione is also a clever little thing with power and torque being transmitted to the front wheels via a 'Robotised Manual Gearbox', which is FIAT's way of describing what we know as an automated manual transmission.

There is quite a bit of lag and the 1.4 T-Jet motor comes alive and becomes peppy after 3,000 rpm, when the massive 230 Nm of torque arrives in one head rush. The peak power comes in at 5,500 rpm, but the magic happens between 3,000 and 5,500 rpm.

It uses a five-speed Robotised Manual Gearbox
It uses a five-speed Robotised Manual Gearbox 

This is the sweet spot and you can have truck-loads of fun by keeping the engine spinning in that rev range. What adds to the aura is the intoxicating sound from the FIAT's Record Monza Exhaust.

Acceleration is fierce and soon enough, we find ourselves barrelling towards turn one. Past turn one and the long sweeping uphill left hander that is T2, we approach the super slow but tricky T3. The little FIAT's dynamic abilities come to the fore here as you brake late, turn in for the apex and then get back on the gas to power out.

The Abarth 595 Competizione never strays away from the line. Powering ahead on the long back straight the little thing picks up speed quite rapidly — 150, 160, 170… 172 km/h. And then slam goes your foot on the brake to shed speed for T4.

FIAT's Abarth division was started in 1949 by Carlo Abarth. It is known for churning out crazy performance cars. Pics Courtesy/FIAT
FIAT's Abarth division was started in 1949 by Carlo Abarth. It is known for churning out crazy performance cars. Pics Courtesy/FIAT 

The four-pot callipers bite those massive cross-drilled rotors with ferocity, helping the car shed speed rapidly. Those anchors are really good and provide superb feel. All the while, the ultra-communicative steering keeps me informed about what exactly the front end was doing, giving me the confidence to push harder.

The super stiff suspension keeps body-roll to a minimum and handles sudden directional changes with utmost efficiency, making this little Abarth a beautiful handler.

Overall, I found that this little performance car has the punch to make you feel like boy racer. This car will set you back by R29.85 lakh (ex-Delhi) and is expensive. But I am sure there are plenty of super-rich youngsters who wouldn't mind showing off in a hot little Italian hatch.


Need to know
FIAT Abarth 595 Competizione
Engine: 1,368 cc, in-line, four-cylinder, turbocharged, petrol
Max Power: 160 PS @ 5,500 rpm
Max Torque: 230 Nm @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission: 5-Speed Robotised Manual Gearbox
Price: Rs 29.85 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi

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