ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE #ABARTH 595 COMPETIZIONE

How many times has the term ‘pocket rocket’ been used?  Quite a few and in most cases, not deserved.

However here is one that is deserving of the title, a little bundle of power which puts you back in the driving seat. I am referring to a certain small Italian which is adorned by the scorpion badge – the Abarth 595.

In order to get in touch with this highly desirable Italian I took to the roads of Yorkshire, tarmac stretches which were very akin to the roads at home and right away I must state this little mover felt as if it was devoid of any form of suspension.  So be warned should you be lucky to get the opportunity to drive one, take my advice do not take your granny for a Sunday afternoon drive.

That said, the Abarth 595 is a treat to get behind the wheel, road holding is outstanding, it simply feels like a small racing saloon.

Recent developments by Abarth has resulted in more powerful engines and higher levels of standard equipment.

There are three models in the line-up, 595, Turismo and Competizione. My test car was the latter.

With a 1.4 litre turbocharged engine and  180bhp to have fun, the sprint from rest to 62mph (100kph) is achieved in a very respectful 6.7 seconds and should you have access to a race circuit then top speed is 140mph (226kph).

Transmission wise, the same five speed manual gearbox across the range, however spend a few more pounds or euros and there is an Abarth robotised sequential gearbox with shift paddles.

The real joy comes when you strap yourself into the hip hugging sports seats, fire the little Abarth up and the greeting is a sound to behold.

For a moment you could be forgiven thinking that you are in control of a racing saloon on the start line at Mondello Park.

Hard to resist not to push the 595 on in a sporty fashion as it takes the corners with ease, but when a bump in the road appears you certainly know that it is there, that stiff suspension certainly gives you the message loud and clear.

The Competizione version is the only model to offer the option of a Performance Pack which includes the larger 17 inch alloy wheels and a mechanical slip differential for improved grip for when the going gets tough.

Included in this pack, the Sabelt leather / Alcantara seats with carbon fibre shells as well as special paint options.

Okay, all this performance, but you still need stopping power. Four pot Brembo brakes provide the answer and just like the ability of the 595 to get you from A to B in a rapid fashion, equally there is stopping power aplenty.

We all like our creature comforts and in this respect Abarth does not disappoint, with such goodies as a  7 inch colour touch screen for the infotainment control and the Uconnect Live services incorporating Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto.

So what about the effect on your wallet? Well, the 595 Competizione has an official combined fuel consumption of 47.1mpg (5.99l/km) and a CO2 emissions figure of 139gms/km.

My test car had a list price of £20,360 (23,144 euro), however adding the Performance Pack, special paint and upgraded audio equipment brings the final amount to £24,000 (27,280 euro).