Among the small hot hatches on the market, the MINI JCW is among the oldest in the segment. Sure, it’s been updated recently but it’s still one of the older cars. However, it’s not as old as the Fiat 500, which is the basis for the 595 Abarth. While that car is still kind of fun and cool in its own hilarious way, it’s too old to truly compete in this segment and with cars like the JCW. Or is it? Autocar finds out.
The MINI JCW uses a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. That little four-pot is paired with a six-speed manual in this test and it makes the car surprisingly quick. It’s not light-your-hair-on-fire fast but it’s certainly quick enough to be fun. According to Autocar, 0-62 mph happens in 6.3 seconds.
In comparison, the Fiat Abarth 595 Competizione uses a 1.4 liter turbocharged four-pot with 178 ho and 184 lb-ft. When paired with a six-speed manual, that helps it hit 62 mph in 6.7 seconds. That makes it a bit slower than the MINI JCW but it makes up for it with some crackling exhaust noise that’s flat-out better than the MINI’s and a hilarious Italian character.
Objectively, it’s no contest — the MINI JCW is head and shoulders above the Fiat. It’s faster, it handles better, it’s more comfortable and far better built. However, the Fiat 595 has a plucky Italian-ness to it that’s hard to resist. As the two Autocar hosts say, it’s a very likable car even if it’s far from the best hot hatch in its segment.
In the end, they deem the MINI JCW to be the better car of the two and it’s the winner of the test. Having said that, if both cars were being offered for one last drive before all the fuel runs out, it’s the Fiat they’d take. And I get it.