Years: 2012 to datePrice new: £21,890Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl, 178bhp
You realise the Abarth 595C Competizione is a serious small car when you lower yourself into the rock-hard, figure-hugging Sabelt bucket seat. Turn the key and the four-cylinder 1.4-litre turbo gurgles into life, emitting an angry burble from the high-flow ‘Monza’ exhaust.
In the Competizione model, power is up to a healthy 178bhp. Push the throttle and not a great deal happens until 2,500rpm, when the turbo really starts pumping. The light gearshift isn’t a match for the firm brake pedal or iron-fisted damping, but push the clutch to snatch a new gear and that loud exhaust gives a snarling pop and crackle.
Despite the precise steering, you still have to muscle the car into corners and make the most of the grip on offer. And in the convertible C version, there’s another element to like. The roll-back roof gives even more access to that exhaust noise, but keeping the roof rails in place means the chassis retains its stiffness. Still, with a tiny rear bench and boot opening, plus the firm ride and hard seats, don’t expect the 595C to win any practicality awards.
Click the links below for the other 1,400cc cars that have made our list.
In this review
- 1IntroductionAuto Express celebrates 1,400 issues by driving our favourite 1,400cc cars from the last 25 years
- 2Reliant Scimitar SSTReliant may have been most famous for its three-wheelers, but it has also dabbled in sports cars.
- 3Caterham Seven K SeriesClassic looks and modern tech are an enticing mix in a sports car, and the Caterham Seven Classic has them both.
- 4Volkswagen Polo BlueMotionEco-focused superminis are common now, but even in the late noughties that wasn’t the case
- 5Mercedes A140It’s easy to forget how influential the original A-Class was. Mercedes’ first people carrier was tall, but had a short wheelbase.
- 6Audi A2
- 7Volkswagen Golf GTE
- 8Vauxhall Nova 1.4SR Boxy styling and blistered wheelarches inspired a generation of car fans in the eighties, and the Vauxhall Nova SR was the aspirational warm hatch for young drivers who wanted thrills without the bills.
- 9Fiat Panda 100HPThe Fiat Group has used 1.4 power several times in its history
- 10Abarth 595C - currently reading
- 11Rover 214When planning this road test we knew there was one car that had to be here: the Rover 214.