Abarth 595 Competizione updated: go-faster 500 goes even faster for 2015

Published: 22 May 2015

► Top Abarth 595 model updated for 2015
► 20bhp power upgrade and more standard kit
► It’s not cheap – starts from £19,890

No sooner do we review the Abarth 595 Competizione than Fiat goes and updates it: new 2015 models have been given a 20bhp shot of power, along with various other kit upgrades.

Remind me, what exactly is the Abarth 595 Competizione?

Leaving the race-derived (and frighteningly expensive) 695 Biposto aside for a moment, the Competizione tops Abarth’s range of go-faster 500s. The three-model line-up starts with the 135bhp Abarth 500 Custom, with the 595 Turismo upping the power to around 160bhp and the top-shelf Competizione now reaching the heights of 178bhp.

There’s a quasi-convertible 595C version of each too.

Did the Abarth 595 really need more power?

Judging by the riotous straight-line performance of the pre-update car we tested, probably not. But working on the principle that you can never have too much of a good thing, Fiat has upped the power from 158bhp to 178bhp, and torque from 170lb ft to 184lb ft at 2500rpm.

With a kerb weight not all that far past the 1000kg mark, this won’t be a slow car. The 0-62mph time has been cut from 7.4 seconds to 6.7sec and top speed has climbed to 140mph. According to Abarth, it’s now actually better on fuel than before, averaging 48.7mpg officially.

What else do you get for your money?

Sabelt seats that look and feel like they’ve been pinched from a racing car, Brembo brakes inside 17-inch alloys and a raucous ‘Record Monza’ exhaust system.  More practically, you also get xenon headlamps and rear parking sensors. There’s a new red signature paint scheme as standard, and you can apply plenty of optional stickers, stripes and contrast colour schemes in varying levels of garishness. As before, suspension is lower on the Competizione than other 500s.

More to the point, how much money is it for the 2015 Abarth 595 Competizione?

It’s not cheap. While the outgoing Abarth 595C Competizione we drove recently cost £18,990 before options, the new 2015 model weighs in at £19,890 for the hatchback version or £21,890 for the retractable-roof 595C model. You’ll pay £1300 extra if you want an automatic gearbox.

That’s quite a lot of cash for a Fiat 500…

It is, putting the 595 toe to toe with the likes of the Mini Cooper S and well above less compromised (and frankly more capable cars) such as the Peugeot 208 GTi and Ford Fiesta ST. But if you like your hot hatches with a generous side order of character, the Competizione has it in spades.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer