We drove the Fiat Abarth 595 Scorpioneoro: a golden thoroughbred…

There are cars in our world which are worth their weight in gold. Every bit of it. These cars are called Abarths. Their creator had one principle: build absolute thoroughbreds. Pur sang engines, pur sang suspension, pur sang style and soul. Even when they were born and bred based on mass produced Fiats. Enthusiasts remember them immediately. The racing-ready 850 TC’s for instance. The 500 Abarth’s “Esse Esse”, to stay within the original Nuova Cinquecento theme, now decades ago.

The 595 “Scorpione oro” or “Golden Scorpion” is reminiscent of the exclusive A112 Abarth “Gold Ring”, better known to fans as the A112 Abarth “Targa Oro”. A truly exclusive car, only 150 models of which were produced in 1979, all featuring a black livery, golden details, sophisticated interiors and a wide range of equipment as standard, in line with the Italian tradition of “granturismo” cars.

This dapper front wheel drive transverse engined four seater started life as the Autobianchi 112, which had the 903 Fiat four cylinder under the hood. Already in standard form, it produced a healthy 43 DIN HP at 6.000 rpm, good for 0-100 in some 17 seconds. The Abarth Version actually was dubbed officially as “Autobianchi A-112 5a Serie Abarth.” Its 1050 cc four cylinder was fed with a Weber 32DMTR38/250 2-barrel carburettor, and was good for 70 HP. It already proved a good sprinter, with 0 to 100 km/h reached in 11,4 seconds.

Brilliant performance with panache

This is where all comparison ends. The actual Abarth 595 is still compact, but then again a lot sturdier with a kerb weight of slightly more than 1 tonne, much heavier than the nimble 700 kg of the A112. The engine is now the well proven double overhead cam 1368 cc unit, developing here 165 HP, and is very characteristic with its deep exhaust roar. It is very civilized in town, ready to pull away without hesitation from 900 rpm onwards, and this proved to be very pleasant in slow traffic. We tested this Scorpioneoro with the 5 speed manual transmission, and it delighted us with its very subtle and slick changes, combined with a very smooth and progressive clutch. With all this, the 595 behaves delightfully smooth and easy in tight urban traffic, and is of course an absolute dream on the open road.

The chassis and stiff and very sporting suspension truly come to their own there, and delight the enthusiast driver with precise, neutral handling and steering, which lets you take all bends and fast curves like a master.

This brilliant experience is made even more dramatic by the wonderful roar and staccato of the willing four cylinder, catapulting you from one corner to another. Suffice to say that this Abarth races from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 7,3 seconds. The brakes are of course quite up to the task, and the 17” “golden” alloy wheels are kept firmly on the tarmac in all circumstances.   

The special Abarth 595 Scorpioneoro series is a genuine “collector’s item”, produced as it is in a limited edition and bearing a prestigious numbered plate in its cockpit.

The new special series is recognizable by its black scorpion livery – available on request in Podium Blue, Racing White and Record Gray – and the matt black chessboard roof is matching the “tar cold gray” finish of the handles, mirror caps, and the front and rear DAM.

To emphasize its “Golden” or “Oro” character, this new special series includes golden details, such as the scorpion on the bonnet, the lining around its bodywork and – we already mentioned it – the 17” “golden” alloy wheels or, on request, 17” “black” alloy wheels with the golden scorpion on the hubcap.

In the interior, everything kept in sporting black, with dramatic looking new Abarth “Scorpionflage” sports seats with black leather upholstery.The centre of the seat is in special material with high friction, to better contain the body during the sportiest driving. On the front seat head restraints, embroidered “Scorpioneoro” lettering alongside the Italian flag and Abarth embroidery. The new seats combine with the Scorpion Black dashboard with matte black details, last but not least with the gold plate on the central tunnel and of course personalized mats.

State of the art infotainment

To top everything off, the Abarth 595 Scorpioneoro offers the best infotainment currently available: the 7″ HD UconnectTM system fitted with Apple CarPlay and Google Android AutoTM* – a fast platform with high definition monitor, GPS and DAB digital radio – as well as the sophisticated BeatsAudio™ system with overall output of 480 W and a 8-channel digital speaker including a cutting-edge equalization algorithm capable of reproducing the full sonic spectrum of a recording studio. 

All this to please the ears of the Abarth pilot. But to be honest, during our test we rather listened to the music of the Abarth exhaust, ranging from a deep burble to a staccato roar, which drives more adrenaline in your veins than you ever thought possible.

Modern-day panache

The beauty of these 595 Abarth’s is their stunning everyday useability. Gone are the times when these thoroughbred engines needed regular finetuning of their Weber carburettors, a delicate right foot to avoid fouling the plugs when starting up the cold engine in damp weather.

The days when the good roadholding still needed an expert and sensitive hand or “Fingerspitzengefühl” to drive it on the limit are also to some extent behind us.

To some extent, as this Abarth still will reward a masterful hand when driven as hard as it can. But at least all the electronic driving aids will keep you out of trouble, unless you totally transgress the limits of physics, of course.

This being said, this Abarth teaches you to become a better driver, make you better understand with every ride the kinetics of a motor car, the forces which act upon it. The 595 is a very forgiving teacher, which lets you climb step by step higher into the art of sporting driving and racing.

On the other hand, you can hand the keys with closed eyes to every less experienced driver, he or she will not foul the plugs or do any mischiefs to the drivetrain, the totally predictable and safe behaviour and handling of this car will also see that the car is still in one piece when you get the keys back…    

On fuel economy, this Abarth is of course as frugal or thirsty as you want it. All depends on your right foot here. When it comes to service costs, all the ingedients are well proven and reliable, so it will not be beyond what you expect from any normal compact car…

So when you are dreaming of a totally sporting but also eminently practical everyday urban and Gran Turismo car, this Abarth 595 is totally right for you. And we bet you will cherish it, for years to come.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s