$0-50K: 13th - Abarth 595 Turismo

Slowness and expensiveness are a guaranteed way to turn the Bang formula a bit pale.

So you can forgive Bang's mathematical digestive system for getting in a knot when it ate the numbers for the Abarth 595 Turismo.

Taking 8.99 seconds to hit 100km/h and an is-the-handbrake-still-on 16.55 seconds to cover the quarter, the Abarth was officially the slowest car in a straight line at Bang 2014.

Its $33,500 price – $7510 more than the Fiesta ST – helped it like a punch in the head, too.

But the Abarth surprised the judges who had driven it previously on the road, who found a tiresome car with seats firm in all the wrong places, road noise like the stereo was blaring static at full volume, and suspension like it was nicked from Kmart mountain bikes.

Then there’s the cruise control (lack of), interior plastics made from recycled milk lids, and a gearbox with five gears.

The engine is enthusiastic enough with 230Nm at 3000rpm, and makes an effort with the exhaust note. But it has to pull through long-ish gear ratios, intended to help the Abarth’s fuel consumption (we assume), and it really hurts the Abarth’s straight-line punch.

Fortunately, despite an 149.25km/h Winton v-max – dead last – you’d think the acceleration, which feels like the Abarth is steam-driven, would cause more pain to its lap time. But surprising mid-corner grip, and strong brakes, come to its rescue.

An apex speed of 53.59km/h (8th in class) and a 100-0km/h braking performance of 37.95m (7th in class) combine to help the Abarth claw back valuable time around Winton.

It’s dead last for 0-100km/h, 0-400m and lap v-max, but ends up crossing the line 12th thanks to its sheer ability to divebomb corners.

The stiff suspension might send you nuts on the road but chuck it in and you’ll find a nice tenacious OEM tyre to lean into.

The experience around Winton thus is one of checking your watch down straights, but geeing yourself up to see how late you can brake and how much speed with which you can swoop at the next apex.

When you reach the limit, wielding a super-sized steering wheel comical in a car this small, you’ll encounter an understeer that feels more natural than annoying.

But flick the thing into a fast elbow like Winton’s turn four and you’ll discover an encouraging wriggle of front-drive oversteer.

Unfortunately the fun turns to frustration as the ESP kills the joy, and you can’t turn it off. There’s not even an ESP button.

It’s a shame because while chucking around the upright, grippy, tiny-wheelbase Abarth might well be disastrous without ESP, it could also be hilarious. Sadly, we’ll never know.

$0-50K placing – 13th
Overall placing – 21st
Judges’ ranking – 20th

0-100km/h – 8.99sec (21st)
0-400m – 16.55sec @ 142.50km/h (21st)
Lap Time – 151.10sec ( 19th)
Price – $33,500 (7th)

Engine: 1368cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 118kW @ 5500rpm
Torque: 230Nm @ 3000rpm
Weight: 1035kg
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
Suspension: struts, anti-roll bar (f); torsion beam, anti-roll bar (r)
Brakes: 284mm ventilated discs, 4-piston calipers (f); 240mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 17 x 7.0-inch (f/r)
Tyres: 205/40 R17 Michelin Pilot Sport 3 (f/r)

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