Aiding engagement is a five-speed manual gearbox. It has a slightly notchy shift but the knob’s placement high up on the dash makes for easy, quick shifts. And, at the end of the day, it’s always better to have a manual in a hot hatch, are we right? We’re looking at you, fourth-gen Renault Clio RS.
The 595 has affordability on its side, too. You only need around £10,000 to get yourself a 2017 model with 144bhp. A 165bhp Turismo of the same vintage rises by a grand, while the 178bhp Competizione goes up to around £13,000.
If you fancy a 695, expect to pay the last amount above as a minimum. Special editions, like the 695 Rivale (of which only 350 were produced), are more expensive yet often remain less than £20,000. If you ask us, even then you’re getting a really tempting amount of punchy performance, laugh-out-loud fun and Italian flair for your buck.
Our top spec
595 Competizione: Bigger brakes, uprated suspension and stickier tyres meet climate control, xenon headlights, an auto-dip rear-view mirror, parking sensors and a sports exhaust.
Need to know
All 695s from 2018-on have 178bhp – the standard car, the Turismo, Competizione and the Tributo 131 Rally special edition. Basic 595 gets sports seats; the Turismo gets leather plus aluminium gearknob and pedals. The Competizione has slim bucket seats, plus Alcantara and carbonfibre around the cabin. A 595 or 695 can do 40mpg-plus if driven sensibly. VED will be £165 per year, unless it’s a pre-April 2017 car, then it’s CO2-based.