The Abarth 500 and its various iterations may not be the most accomplished hot hatchbacks on sale, but they’re some of the most characterful.
They're quick too. The 1.4-litre turbocharged Abarth 595 Competizione develops 158bhp and has to propel just 1035kg down the road.
Subscribe to evo magazine
The 595 Competizione's power to weight ratio has now improved further, as Abarth has announced a boost in power to 178bhp. Torque has jumped too, from 170lb ft to 184lb ft, developed at 2500rpm.
The upshot is a quicker 0-62mph time than before – 6.7 seconds versus 7.4sec – and top speed climbs from 130mph to 140. The benefits of the car’s light weight and relatively small engine are also apparent in its 48.7mpg combined fuel economy figure, jumping up from 43.5mpg.
These performance upgrades are part of a wider range of improvements to the model, which also include equipment changes and a new paint shade, Officina Red.
Standard equipment now includes titanium-finish 17in alloy wheels, Brembo brakes with red calipers, a leather sports steering wheel, Sabelt seats, Xenon headlamps, rear parking sensors and aluminium pedals.
595 Convertibles will also gain all these upgrades, available to order later in May. A manual gearbox remains standard while an automatic is optional. Also on the options list are leather seats, an electric glass sunroof, a six-speaker audio system and various alloy wheel and body decal combinations.
Pricing begins at £19,890 in hatchback form and £21,890 for the convertible. MTA auto models add £1300 to those figures.
Those prices put the car well inside Ford Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTi and MINI Cooper S territory. All are better to drive than the Abarth – as ever, the 595 is likely to be a heart-over-head purchase.