Abarth 595 Buying Guide for Dummies

Abarth 595 Buying Guide for Dummies

As with all my large purchases I like to get into the details of things and to avoid any disappointment make sure I was informed with all the different options and choose the right spec car. The thought of selecting the Abarth 595 amongst other cars in the same class was considered the major part of my research, but boy I was wrong. The Abarth 595 comes in so many variations and trims that makes the hunt so much difficult. Below is a list of the most price dependent features when it comes to choose the right Abarth 595 to suite your lifestyle.

As a rule of thumb when buying an Abarth, compile a shortlist of what you really want from the four main factors and then search the internet for the right car, and if necessary be prepared to travel some distance.

  1. Convertible Vs Hatchback
  2. Auto vs Manual
  3. Base vs Turismo vs Competizione
  4. Pre-Facelift vs Facelift
Before we start here are some good to know details.

Where are they built?

  • 500/595 made in Poland on the same production plant as the Fiat Panda and Ford KA line.
  • 695 made in Poland then shipped to Turin, Italy to be refinished.

Where is the Chassis Number and Build Plate Located?

  • Oddly enough the chassis number and build plate are located in the trunk of the car right underneath the carpet.

Hard Top vs Convertible

This is preference at the end of the day. Each to their own with advantages and disadvantages which we will mention a few below:


  • Enjoy the open air driving in good weather.
  • Have a 2 in 1 car, hot hatch which also can double as a summer soft top cruiser.
  • Can transport tall objects.


  • Soft Canvas top - more prone to thieves breaking in.
  • Canvas maintenance, would need to extra procedures to keep the canvas in good shape.
  • Heavier electric roof equipment will effect performance.

Major differences between hatchback and convertible Abarth 595:

  • Convertible has backup proximity warning indicators, hatchback does not.
  • Convertible has radio antenna embedded in the windshield, hatchback has the roof stub.
  • Hatchback has rear window wiper, convertible does not.
  • Hatchback passenger seat is harder and less comfortable than convertible passenger seat.
  • Convertible weighs about 45kg more than the hatchback. Since the convertible does not give the roof support as found in the hatchback, there have been compensating methods to guard against body twist.
  • There are also suspension difference reported.
Info: Models with 'C' next to it are Convertibles.

Manual vs Automatic

The never ending debate, to which is better an Auto over a manual transmission.  The manual is cheaper to buy and fun to drive, however you might not be so happy if its your daily and you commute in a busy city center.

The automatic is more expensive, and although same say its less involving it can be faster around the track than a human operating a manual gearbox. But they can be complicated to fix if they go wrong so making sure you get a decent warranty is worthwhile.

And actually Abarth offer a third option - the MTA (Manual Transmission Automated), often refereed to as automatic because Europeans only get this version of the automatic, is a conventional manual gearbox in which the manual linkage is replaced by a robotized arm and gives really meaty & satisfying shifts - quicker shifts than a manual and with shift paddles at your disposal that are a joy to use.


Abarth 595 Naming Conventions and Specs

This is a hard and confusing one, because you can literally buy a base version and spec it with the extras to match a Turismo. And to make things more complex, the 595 market has now matured so a S3 Competizione would not be the same with an S4 Competizione, not to mention by the multiple special editions Abarth keeps releasing.

As a generic rule of thumb and in ascending order:

  • Base - which will be a plain "Abarth 595" but can be specced to a Turismo. Often easily spotted because they are the only Abarth that are equipped with 16" wheels.
  • Turismo - specced to be more luxurious with features such as upgraded Speakers by Beats, leather seats - this will be the "Abarth 595 Turismo"
  • Competizione - this version is more tracked focus, so will have mechanical upgrades such as larger brakes and bigger turbo - this will be the "Abarth 595 Competizione"
  • Other - There are other variants such as Esseesse, Tofeo, Pista and multiple 695 variants that pop in the line every now and then.
Quick Facts
Base Turismo Competizione 595 Special Editions 695 Special Editions
aka Abarth 500/595 aka Abarth 595 Turismo aka Abarth 595 Competizione Esseesse, Tofeo, Pista  Tributo Ferrari, XSR Yamaha, Rivale, BiPosto
Brief Entry model Luxury Version Track Prepped Even more special than the turismo/competizione, future collectables. More power and produced in limited numbers, each are pre-specced with tastefully mods from the factory in Turin.
Power 140bhp 160bhp (s3)

165bhp (S4)

Turbo Type IHI IHI (S3)

Garrett (S4)

Standard Extras  16" Wheels, Cloth seats KONI rear shocks, Leather Seats, Beats audio, 17" wheels Brembo brakes, sabelt seats, Monza exhaust, KONI shocks all around with  eibach springs, Competition Seats, 17" wheels

How special is the 695?

All Abarth 695 are special and do not come by so cheap. They are produced in limited numbers and commemorate various  special events depending to the model that is currently in production.

  • 695 Tributo Ferrari - the mandatory Ferrari paint job with more power, carbon and goodies to please those whom find the Abarth 505 Competizione boring.
  • 695 XSR - relats to a Yamaha partnership I believe, from what I can see it appears to be a mix of Turismo/Competition but also has an Akrapovic exhaust IIRC.
  • 695 Rivale -is a luxury model partnership with Riva yachts - it's also like a Turismo/Competizione combination with some pricey options and unique-to-model details and paint.
  • 695 Biposto - is effectively a road legal track version,  no rear seats, options for a sequential gearbox, plastic windows etc.

Prefacelift (S3) vs Facelift (S4)

The S3 and S4 codes are often referred to differentiate between the minor facelift changes of the Abarth 595.

Wait what happened to S1 and S2? These are actually reference to the original Abarth 500 from the 60s, and to avoid confusion Abarth released the modern Abarth 595 as we know it with the S3 version in 2009, and recently gave it a facelift (s4) at teh end of 2016.

What is different with the Facelift S4?


  • Restyled front bumper with deeper intakes
  • New styled 17" wheels
  • LED side lights
  • Front Projector Styles Headlights (Xenon headlights still an option)
  • Rear lights with color coded centres.
  • Competizione now include a badge on the back
Info: All headlights and taillights are interchangeable, just in case you are thinking to buy an S3 and upgrade it with the modern lights from the S4.


  • New flat bottomed steering wheel
  • New window switch buttons
  • Bigger glove box
  • Built-in 5inch touchscreen monitor (can be upgraded to 7inch)
  • Optional Beats Sound System has also been upgraded (Subwoofer does not take horizontal space such as the S3)
  • Full colored digital driver display monitor
  • Competizione models gets Sabelt seats and Alcantara trimmed carbon-shell front seats.
Info: Both versions have the same set of climate controls and the styling were never changed. An Abarth 595 of any year can comes with a analogue or auto climate control unit. These are easily distinguishable the the auto having an led display. Also note for any new owners who have the analogue version (pictured above), pull out the temperature knob to enable the air condition.


  • Suspension is a few mm lower but more comfortable and about 50kg lighter
  • IHI turbo still comes on the base model S4 Turismo models now come with a Garrett turbo
  • On average all models gain 5bhp.
  • Earlier cars didn't have koni shocks but from 2015 all models had them on front, with turismo, trofeo, and comp getting all round koni shocks. (Competizione also getting eibach springs)
  • S3 sounds better, due to tighter emission control on the S4.

Overall current owners who have experience both S3 and S4 models claim that the  S4 is better built and has been better screwed together when it comes to quality and reliability.



I'm in no way an expert on the Abarth 595 range, and this is just my initial observations from researching for my own sake before buying my very own Abarth 595. Reading various comments and factoring personal taste, at the end I have opt for the Facelift S4 with the MTA gearbox.

The car in the photo ticked all the boxes for me, afterall I was searching the used market and was somewhat flexible. There are other cars in the stable, and the 595 main purpose would be used as an exciting daily car to get around the city in comfort. This meant I was looking for anything base or Turismo specced car with the the optional auto box that would give me the advantage in the traffic, as well as on the track. Additionally the Circuit Grey paint finish with yellow accents made this very car pop out amongst all the other cars that were for sale. Other preferences that were a must for me was it had to be a facelift the S4, one owner, low miles and not red.

Hope this article helps you in your hunt into Abarth 595 ownership, and if so please share :)


Tags: buying guide, abarth, fiat 500, 595

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