- Cool looks
- Peppy performance
- Mini’s boot is smaller
- Mini’s more fun
- Stiff ride
- Can get pricey
The Abarth 595C is a small the convertible version of the Abarth hatchback with its closest rivals being the Mini Convertible, theCitroen DS3 Cabriolet and the Mazda MX-5. The Abarth 595C is the smallest car that can be considered a true sports roadster.
The Abarth is effectively a Fiat 500C with added spice and gets the same rollback fabric roof, but combined with a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with 135hp — 30hp more than in the most powerful 500C.
The extra zest helps the Abarth scamper from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds – you’ll be surprised how fast that feels in a small car like this. Grit your teeth and keep your right foot welded to the floor and the 595C will push past 128mph.
It a rarer sight than the Mini Convertible, which could well be enough to swing it into favour with the fashionistas, but underneath that stylish body is an old design. As a result, it can’t deliver the same kind of driver involvement offered by its pint-sized Mini competitor.
Interior space isn’t great either – there’s plenty of room for adults in the front, but they’ll have to be seriously flexible to get comfortable in the back. Having said that, there’s more room than you’ll get in the Mini and the 500’s roof design also means it offers a bigger boot.
A staple of the Abarth marque is providing generous standard equipment and the 595C is no different – climate control, a bluetooth phone connection, parking sensors and front fog lights is a lot of standard kit for a supermini.
Cheapest to buy: 1.4-litre 135hp Standard
Cheapest to run: 1.4-litre 180hp Turismo
Fastest model: 1.4-litre 190hp Biposto
Most popular: 1.4-litre 160hp Turismo
Interior – More manly than the 500C
For a small car, the 595C Abarth has a well appointed cabin. Admittedly, a Mini Convertible feels better built with higher quality materials, but the racy feel in the 595C is hard to match. You don’t get a large infotainment touchscreen to control most of the car’s systems, but the button layout is logical and easy-to-learn. Combined with the eye-pleasing design, you rarely feel the need for a modern infotainment system.
To accentuate the motorsport pedigree of the Abarth name the steering wheel has a flat bottom just like fully-fledged race-cars and, if you opt for the automatic gearbox, there are two metal paddles behind it that are a throwback to Abarth race cars of old.
Further sporty details include a passenger foot brace similar to those found in rally cars and a small turbo pressure gauge mounted next to the main instrument binnacle, which is a great distraction in stop-go traffic.
Abarth 595C passenger space
The large sport seats that are a standard fit on the 595C are very supportive and also comfortable, but their bulky shape takes up most of the already minimal rear legroom. It’s better to use the rear seats as extra storage rather than punishing someone with sitting there.
All is good in the front, though, with the height adjustable driver’s seat able to accommodate even tall drivers comfortably. The steering wheel is also adjustable for height and reach, so a good driving position can be achieved fairly quickly.
All-round visibility is average for a small car and better than in a Mini Convertible with the roof up, but with it down, things start to go a bit downhill. The folding fabric roof doesn’t go in the boot, but sits on top of it instead — obscuring your view. Some of this is negated by fact the car comes with standard rear parking sensors.
Abarth 595C boot space
The upside of the folding roof is that you get the same amount of boot space whether it’s up or down. With a capacity of 183 litres it’s not really big, but should be enough for a couple of overnight bags. For comparison a Mini Convertible offers just 125 litres.
Driving – Nimble, but firm
The 595C retains the lively handling and zippy performance of the hard-top 595 Abarth, but its suspension set-up is a bit softer. Don’t let that fool you, though, because the 595C is still very firm and jarring on all but the smoothest roads.
The steering is another area where there is a bigger emphasis on ease-of-use than hardcore performance. Reviewers note that the overly assisted steering provides little information or feel while the artificial weight brought up by the Sport button does little to improve things.
Testers report some buffeting and a whirlwind effect when driving at speed with the roof down, so it’s recommended you go for the optional wind stop that is positioned behind the rear headrests.
Engine – A ball of fizz
One of the 595C’s biggest selling points is its engine – a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol with 135hp that just wants to go. Testers describe its performance as punchy and say the 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds feels faster due to the urgent nature of the engine and the broad spread of pulling power. Maximum torque of 152 lb ft is available from a lowly 2000rpm and coupled with the low weight of the car makes for some quick overtakes.
There are two other 595C versions called the Turismo and Competizione. The former bumps the 595C up to 160hp and the latter to 180hp. They also come with different styling and equipment which we’ll cover in more detail further down the page.
There is also a choice between a manual or a robotised manual that has an automatic mode. Even though, it’s technically impressive, testers weren’t impressed by the operation of the gearbox. They describe it as jerky and slow-witted and generally recommend the manual.
Running costs, relative to the performance on offer, are low with a claimed combined fuel consumption figure of 44mpg and a £130/$195 annual road tax bill. If you go for the more racy Competizione version it’s even more fuel efficient at 48.7mpg combined.
Safety – Surprisingly safe
Neither the convertible, nor the drop-top version of the Abarth 595 have been crash tested by Euro NCAP, but the regular Fiat 500 (which they are based upon) scored fairly well across the board with the maximum five-star score for passenger protection. The 595C and in fact all Abarth models benefit from beefier brakes which shorten stopping distances and should help with avoiding a crash in the first place.
The 595C Abarth has all the safety systems such as stability and traction control, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and seven air-bags — which is rare in a car of this size.
The standard Xenon headlights on the 500C Abarth that are optional on lesser models are three times brighter than normal headlights.
Value for money – Lots of kit, but not cheap
Ignoring the well equipped basic car, there are two additional trim levels that change the 595C so much that they can easily be sold as different cars.
Abarth 595C Turismo
The middle-of-the-range model is directed towards those that buy the little Fiat as more of a fashion statement than a miniature sports car. So it comes with an eye-catching two-tone paint job, comfortable leather seats, tinted windows and red brake callipers.
Abarth 595C Competizione
Competizione is the Italian word for competition and, as a result, it’s the most race-focused trim level. It gets fabric sport seats from renowned race-car seat manufacturer Sabelt, while further upgrades inspired by the world of motorsport include cross-drilled brake disks which minimise fade after prolonged use, aluminium pedals and a passenger foot rest.
If you evaluate the 595C on practicality, usability and value for money there will be better alternatives like the better-to-drive Mini Convertible, the more comfortable Citroen DS3 or the better all-round Mazda MX-5. However, as with most things that come from Italy, the 595C is about emotion. You either see the car, fall in love with it and buy it or you get a more sensible alternative.