Abarth 595C review
The Abarth 595C is one of the only small hot hatches on sale which comes with a folding fabric roof. It’s great fun to drive, but its cramped cabin means it isn’t all that easy to live with.
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The Abarth 595C is a diminutive convertible hot-hatch with boisterous looks and a rorty exhaust note. The Ford Fiesta ST will run rings around it on a race track, but the Abarth is still huge fun to drive.
Part of the Abarth 595C’s appeal is how it looks – it’s certainly not just a Fiat 500 in a fancy frock. From the front, you’ll spot a huge gaping grille, extra black air intakes and a ground-hugging splitter. At the side, you’ll find a set of large alloy wheels and a sporty side skirt while at the back there are even more air vents and a pair of chrome exhaust tips peeking out through a black sports car-like diffuser.
Step inside and this unashamedly sporty theme continues. You get loads of bright red details, a pair of super-supportive seats in the front and a racing car-inspired rev counter. Still not enough? You can also pay extra for a generous helping of carbon fibre trims on the dashboard and doors.
Sadly, while the Abarth 595C isn’t short on eye-catching interior trim, it could do with a little more leg and headroom. Sure, you can always fold the fabric top back if you’re very tall, but the rather upright seating position and cramped footwells mean it isn’t as comfortable to drive for long periods as the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST and Suzuki Swift Sport.
Things are even worse for your passengers in the back where legroom is limited and you only get two seats instead of the more usual three. An added thorn in the little Abarth’s side is that you can’t get it with front and rear doors so it’s a real pain to fit a child seat.
If you’re looking for a tiny hot hatch with bags of character and a folding fabric roof, the Abarth 595C is pretty much your only option.
Thankfully, the Abarth 595C convertible’s boot is no smaller than that in the hard-top 595. That being said, its 185-litre capacity is nothing to shout about – you’ll have trouble carrying anything larger than a pair of small weekend suitcases. Unlike the hard-top, you can’t fold the 595C’s back seat’s down if you need to carry anything particularly bulky.
Thankfully, the Abarth 595C will put an equally huge grin on your face as the hardtop every time you drive it. The turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine has plenty of poke – even in entry-level 160hp guise – and with the roof down you’ll hear every pop and crackle of the exhaust. The Ford Fiesta ST is quicker again, though, and feels even more agile on twisty roads.
However, the Abarth is nowhere near as comfortable as most small hot hatches – although that’s not saying much – rattling around over rutted roads more than the hardtop model. At least the Abarth 595C is just as easy to drive around town as the Fiat 500 it’s based on thanks to its large windows small size.
Head out onto a motorway and you’ll hear bundles of wind and tyre noise which can make long journeys pretty tiresome. You can’t get cruise control in the Abarth 595C either, and it does without any kind of automatic emergency braking to help prevent low-speed collisions.
So, if you’ll be using it solely for blasting down country lanes and you like the wind in your hair, the Abarth 595C makes a great little hot hatch – providing you can put up with its bumpy suspension and low-tech interior.