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Al fresco Abarth – Abarth 595C Competizione review

In a perfect world, when it comes to the idyllic backdrop for driving the Abarth 595C Competizione it’s hugging the corners around the Italian Alps. I’d be on the way to an al fresco picnic with the one I loved, the sun would be at full mast overhead and the raspy Record Monza valve exhaust note would be in perfect harmony with Pavarotti playing loudly on the stereo. Alas, virtually none of that came to pass when Fiat NZ had me review their highly strung Italian (in fact it rained a lot) but it didn’t curb my enthusiasm one little bit.

It wasn’t that long ago that we reviewed the Abarth red 595 Abarth and despite its quirkiness and foibles it’s safe to say that we enjoyed every moment. Well, if we were full of applause for the hard top, the 595C (C for convertible) was sure to raise the roof – and it did.

Of course, it’s not just the weather that gave me troubles, the 595 Abarth itself is not without its (let’s say) challenges, from it’s ‘involving’ auto gearbox, through its lack of reversing camera, to its ultra firm ride and it’s got more rattles than a pebble in a tin can BUT absolutely none of that matters when you get behind the wheel and drive this colourful character.

Abarth 595C review NZ

I say colourful as my 595C came in bright Modena yellow. It’s not the sort of shade you want to see with a migraine but it’s guaranteed to lighten up the dullest of days (and as I said there were many during my week review). It also contrasts well with the blacks around the lower valances (front and rear), mirror caps, Abarth decals along the doors and the retractable roof.

Abarth 595C review NZ

The roof (or lack thereof) adds a whole new dimension to this Italian sportscar both up and down. The down is obvious, all the joys of open air freedom, (plus it actually has three stages to play with, sunroof style, panoramic or the full monty) but even when the roof is up the sounds of the outside venture into the small cabin, you feel at one with the world.

The cabin itself is sporty, with soft leather bucket style seats, alcantara and hints of carbon effect accents where possible. The 7” Touchscreen Display has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Smartphone Mirroring (which you can’t really see with the roof down) and the instrument cluster is of equal size, turning red when you hit the Sport button – which of course you will do EVERY time you turn the key (yes turn the key) and set off. 


Gear selection is managed via a set of four buttons 1 for drive, N for neutral, R for reverse and A/M for Auto/Manual – the other button that you’ll use a lot. In many ways the Abarth’s auto gearbox drives like a manual, for best results you ease off the accelerator as it moves up the gears so as not to not at oncoming drivers, but as to when the gears change is a bit of a lottery, therefore my advice is switch to manual and use the paddles. 


The 595C is as aerodynamic as a bubble with areas such as the grille and lower vents all smoothed out for limited resistance. Overall it’s the size of my thumb but the Abarth decals and quad exhaust tips give a strong indication of its character.

Under its minute bonnet is a 1.4L ‘Garrett’ turbocharged engine that may not sound hefty but when you consider the 595C only weighs a big helping of lasagna over 1000kg’s it’s more than ample. It delivers output numbers of 132kWs and 250Nm and 0-100km/h can be achieved in 6.7 seconds. But it’s the fun in the corners that makes this feisty Italian such fun.


Its 17-inch alloys hold minimum rubber and the Koni shocks offer little road respite so the result is a compact car that loves to go round the bends but not without a lot of input from the driver (well at speed anyway). What’s more, its Brembo brakes and 305mm discs combination ensure that when you really need to stop, you can.

Abarth 595C review NZ

As I mentioned, it rained a lot during my time with the Abarth and therefore the roof was up, but I have to say that when parked up and quiet, the pitter/patter of raindrops is as therapeutic as a year with a shrink and as such makes the ‘C’ the easy choice of the 595 models. Added to this, when the sun did finally make an appearance, I was simply drowned in Vitamin D – it really does bring out the best in you (well it did me). It’s al dente driving at its finest baby!

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