Firstly, I know that it’s not a direct replacement but there is some logic here. The trouble with owning a supercar is that you cannot park it anywhere. Unless you have a secure car park at work or the other places you might want to visit, then it becomes a weekend thing where you get it out of the garage, drive it around a bit and then put it back into the garage. So what does a supercar owner do? Apparently many of them have turned to the Abarth 595 as a daily driver. Repairs are not going to cost you many month’s salary, its far less likely to be keyed, it can be parked much more easily and it has the fun factor.
Consider the following names: Clint Eastwood, Michael Schumacher, pretty much ever other Ferrari F1 driver, Richard Hammond, Nick Mason, Gordon Murray, Declan Donnelly, and a good proportion of the inhabitants of Monte Carlo, to name a few. So why have they gone for the little ‘Abarth’? James Hunt always said that its better to drive a slow car quickly, than a quick car slowly, and his daily drive was a Mini van. There are few things which are imperfect about the Abarth and there are even fewer better cars anywhere near Abarth money which you could own. The Fiesta ST is it’s obvious rival and although good to drive it lacks any charm, and very quickly looks like yesterday’s chips. I once drove the Skoda Octavia VRS up the hill at the Goodwood FOS, but it felt as exciting as choosing which programme to use on your washing machine.
The Abarth is more than just a body kit, it has twice the power or more, in fact there are too many changes from the basic Fiat 500 to list. The seating position is very high, not just for a sports car but for any car. This means that you don’t feel intimidated by BMW or Audi drivers when fighting for road space. In fact they seem to feel very intimidated by you when you overtake them and have to try to overtake you back. You also get let out of side roads and at junctions, which is far less likely to happen if you drive something German. Interior space for luggage or back seat passengers is tight, but possible. It lacks some tech which is creeping into smaller cars but does have a virtual dash, with a Star Wars type effect when you switch to sport mode. This button not only releases more power, makes the throttle more responsive, and gives the steering more weight and feel, it also instantly turns you into a true Italian driver. Luckily the versions with Sat Nav have an ‘always on’ feature to warn you of speed cameras.
So is an Abarth a supercar replacement? Well yes and no. For the occasions when a supercar is impractical and cannot be parked, then the little Abarth has the fun factor and the retro charm which is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.