Thunder and Lightning: 2021 Abarth 595C Competizione

A traditional storm starts off with lightning followed by thunder. It happens thanks to laws of physics where light travels faster than sound. Speaking of which, you can actually calculate how close you are to the eye of the storm via the delay in thunder!

Why is this relevant to the Abarth 595C you may ask? A good question and the reason is that this 595C Competizione doesn’t obey the laws of physics. This is a car that you will hear long before you see it. It is the thunder prior to the lightning. It is the automotive anomaly, a car that smashes expectations.

Abarth 595C Competizione in yellow

Abarth is an interesting brand because they were initially founded to tune and race small Fiats. Later on they became an in-house tuning specialist for Fiat and now they are an independent brand within the group. As a standalone brand, they are still young so establishing the name is high on the agenda. Notice the distinctive Abarth badges on the front, rear and sides. The name is also spelt across the doors. Not that I have a problem with either of those because the scorpion is arguably one of the most striking emblems in the auto world.

The 595C shares most of the same performance additions as the 595 including the 17inch wheels, quad pipe ‘Record Monza Exhaust’ and red brake calipers. There is however, one major difference. The folding roof of course! As the original Fiat 500 had a canvas roof, its modern day Abarth successor also has a fabric roof. The electronically operated roof has two folding settings, you can either have it bundled up like the picture below or slightly less bundled. While it looks cool with the roof all the way back, your rear view visibility is restricted to using ‘the force’.

Rear three quarters shot of the Abarth 595C Competizione
Abarth insignia all around

The interesting benefit of the folding roof is that your hair is generally preserved because the sides of the car are still intact. The interior itself is quite an interesting place to be. Yes, space is not at a premium here especially in the rear or in the boot. As the driver, the footwell is not generous with the automatic option so I can’t imagine what the manual version must be like. Lastly, the interior lacks an air of quality and does tend to feel quite plasticky.

But that’s where the negatives stop. The seats are made of some fine leather and are incredibly supple. There is a sprinkling of carbon fibre and alcantara around the cabin as well. The steering spokes and centre marker are proper carbon. The top of the steering and the gauge cluster are both covered in alcantara. Don’t forget that cool boost gauge that lights up with the word ‘sport’ when the mode is engaged. It’s a good thing that they haven’t tinted the windows either so you can acknowledge the pretty women waving at you or nod at the V8 drivers growling at you.

Interior of the Abarth 595C Competizione
Plenty of leather and carbon fibre on the inside, both real as well!

Yes, the design language of the car and the colour itself are dramatic. But neither compares to that engine when it comes to being pedantic. Sitting under the bonnet is a 1.4L turbo unit producing 132kW of power and 250Nm of torque. Those are huge figures from an engine of this size. Right from start-up to acceleration, the thunderous exhaust treats you a symphony of inconceivable noises. There’s plenty of punch and the car certainly has no difficulty getting through the 5 gears. Though a 6th gear would have been appreciated to burn a little less fuel on the motorway. There’s also no denying that the Abarth is big on performance modifications. The mix includes a Garrett turbo, Brembo brakes and Koni shocks which work up quite a storm.

The result is excellent. By some mystery of physics, the Abarth manages to have so much grip while still having so little. It makes you push it hard around corners though the tires squeak at you at the same time. That really is an anomaly of physics. Honestly, I’m not speaking sense anymore thanks to this car. Driving it is intoxicating. The roaring exhaust, grip and the raw feeling of the road make this a thrilling drive.

Engine bay of the Abarth 595C Competizione
This tiny engine makes itself heard

The Verdict

That’s exactly what the Abarth is, fun. It will happily take you and your co-driver around the backroads and down the motorway. While it has an incredible strength when it comes the entertainment aspect. That is exactly what makes it an impractical daily hot hatch. The boot it too tiny, the roaring exhaust drone will drive you mad on the commute and despite having 4 seats, it isn’t suitable for more than 2.

Yes, the Abarth is flawed but that just makes you love it more. It’s got character, charm and all the good stuff. On paper, it really shouldn’t be this good but it just is. Everything about this car seems to break the laws of physics and that is why it is the automotive anomaly.

2021 Abarth 595C Competizione: 3.5/5

Side view of the Abarth 595C Competizione
But don’t you want it? Badly too.

Thanks for reading! For more news and reviews, check out Tarmac Life.

Words and pictures by Matthew D’Souza.

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