Living Up To The Legend

Famed tuning arms draw swords, as Abarth’s new 500 meets a Mitsubishi Colt tweaked by acclaimed Ralliart

At last – it’s the Abarth we’ve all been waiting for! The Grande Punto version whetted our appetite last year, but fans have been desperate to get their hands on the 500 ever since Fiat confirmed it was to relaunch the scorpion badge.

With a turbocharged 1.4-litre engine producing 135bhp, the newcomer has much more power than its famous ancestors. So, will it make the same kind of impact in the 21st century as the original did in the Sixties? To find out, we’ve put it head-to-head with a car from another sporty brand on the comeback trail. Mitsubishi’s Ralliart tuning arm made its name tweaking the Evos that used to dominate the World Rally Championship. Now, the performance specialist has turned its attention to the revised Colt.

We’re already fans of the supermini’s new look. The big question is whether it can eclipse the trendy 500 with its racy extras and 147bhp 1.5-litre turbo engine. At £12,049, the Colt Ralliart certainly has price on its side. Let’s see how Japanese performance compares with Italian style in the smallest of packages.

Verdict

On paper, this test should be easy to call. The Mitsubishi is faster, more practical and, at £12,049, considerably cheaper than the Abarth. However, cars like this need to appeal to the heart as well as the head, and in this respect the 500 is in a different class. The special feel of its interior and the over-the-top styling tweaks make the Mitsubishi look plain and uninspiring in comparison. Plus, the Colt Ralliart simply isn’t good enough to drive to make up for its shortcomings.

While the Abarth is slower against the stopwatch, it’s an absolute hoot from behind the wheel, and turns heads everywhere it goes. We’ve no official predictions, but we also expect its higher price to be offset by strong resale values. So although it’s no bargain, the Abarth is a real success and seals a welcome return for the scorpion badge.

Most Popular

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time
Vauxhall Astra teaser 1
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time

The new Vauxhall Astra will get electrified powertrains and a more premium image
8 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Porsche Macan facelift prototype review
Porsche Macan prototype - front
Porsche Macan

New Porsche Macan facelift prototype review

We get behind the wheel of a prototype version of the facelifted Porsche Macan SUV
13 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'
Car manufacturing
Opinion

'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'

Steve Fowler points out the fresh issues facing global car manufacturing
9 Jun 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Car group tests

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300

The capable Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport goes up against its new Cupra Leon 300 sibling in this hot hatch battle
12 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland
Nissan Qashqai - front static
News

New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland

Nissan will offer every school child in the North East of England a place on the Nissan Skills Foundation course to mark 35 years of manufacturing in …
14 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle
Volkswagen T7 Multivan - front
Volkswagen Caravelle

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle

The Volkswagen T7 Multivan MPV switches to the MQB platform and adds plug-in hybrid technology
10 Jun 2021
New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp
Tesla Model S facelift - front
Tesla Model S

New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp

Range-topping version of the Tesla Model S officially unveiled, with a sprint time of 0-60mph in less than two seconds
10 Jun 2021
New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender

New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development

The Land Rover Defender FCEV prototype will be assessed for off-road and long-range zero-emission motoring
14 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021