As a car ages, manufacturers have two options: let it slowly fade into uncompetitive obscurity or continue to tweak and update it in an effort to keep things fresh.
Abarth has chosen the latter route for its 500-based hottie, now called the 595 Competizione in its spiciest form. It first landed locally as the Abarth 500 EsseEsse in 2012, but the donor car dates back to 2007 (!).
Originally launched with 118kW/230Nm at a price of $34,990, the 595 Competizione now starts at $31,990, yet offers 132kW/250Nm from its 1.4-litre turbo four, attached to a five-speed manual. A robotised manual will cost you an extra $2000 and should be avoided, while losing the roof adds $4000.
Otherwise the mechanical spec is largely unchanged, with Koni shocks, Brembo front brakes, 17-inch alloys with Continental rubber and a loud, loud Monza exhaust.
The ride isn’t as brutal as it once was and the powertrain is brimming with character. The ergonomics are all wrong and you feel like you’re driving a phone box, but it’s a lot of fun.
2018 ABARTH 595 COMPETIZIONE SPECS:
Engine: 1368cc inline-4, dohc, 16v turbo
Power: 132kW @ 5500rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 3000rpm