Thursday 1st November 2012, 5:00PM GMT.
IF YOU’RE wondering who will buy and drive this car, the answer is anyone who likes having fun.
Whether it’s a teenager driving their first car, a school-run mum or a gent-about-town, the Abarth 595 is perfect. This car is so enjoyable to drive, to look at and to be inside it could actually get away with being called the Abarth Fun.
The word ‘fun’ is liberally scattered across my notebook. When I test a car I take a notebook and pull to the side of the road periodically to write notes as they occur to me. It’s too easy to forget the small moments of delight when writing a couple of hours after the event. So I need a reminder.
Sometimes it’s just a word. ‘Smooth’ or ‘nippy’ or even ‘ha ha’ if it’s especially good. Word association with the Abarth definitely inspires words from the ‘positive’ column.
Where to start with the positives? Well, it’s just the right side of small. It easily slips through the lanes and eases through tight spots no problem. But it’s inside that you notice how the space has been used to maximum effect.
There is plenty of leg room in the front and the back and that hasn’t pinched space from the boot to be achieved.
Abundant space for squabbling children and their many school bags, or for a couple of grown-up passengers and their shopping. While the boot space is the same dimensions as a non-soft top, the entry space is slightly smaller.
So, to the drive. This has a combination gearbox, so it’s possible to drive in either automatic or with gears using the paddle system. Acceleration is very smooth and the automatic is very easy to adapt to for those used to a manual driving experience. In addition to the dual gears, there is a sport mode which promises harder steering and greater acceleration.
Driving in non-sport mode is good fun, the automatic gearbox performs very well. The car tootles along perfectly happily and is very well suited to driving on Guernsey roads.
Time for the Sport button. This is employed for the first time when accelerating up Les Eturs hill. Hit the button and the engine makes a very satisfying purr/growl as the car zips forward. The steering is tighter, the suspension harder. Very responsive and very exciting.
From that moment on, the Sport button is called on when driving up every long hill and the thrill just doesn’t fade.
There are some things to love about the interior.
The leather seats hug the driver gently and are easy to adjust.
The dashboard console has all the toys that you would expect in a modern car, all logically set out.
The switches for the windows are on the dash, leaving the door handles uncluttered and with plenty of room to house the controls for the wing mirrors.
The red shiny dash, which matches the exterior styling, is lovely.
The steering wheel looks very racy but is incredibly light and responsive to handle.
The gear paddles for driving in manual are neatly sandwiched between the lights, indicators and the steering wheel. On the wheel are controls for a smartphone so that once the device is plugged in, it can all be controlled from the steering wheel. Display information also appears on the dash, right in the driver’s eyeline.
The test drive took place the day after the island suffered flooding and storms. The roads were covered with debris, including some fallen tree branches. So driving conditions weren’t terribly conducive to testing out the sunroof.
But during a gap in the clouds, the top came down and it was easy to imagine the delight of nipping along in it with the summer sunshine on your shoulders.
So much fun, such a pity handing it back to Le Mont Saint.
Perhaps if I’m very good, Santa will put one at the foot of my tree on Christmas Eve…