Abarth 595 review - how does it compare to the Up GTI? - Design

Low on sophistication, high on fun – Abarth’s hatch isn’t for everyone, but some will love it.

Evo rating
  • Funky styling and interior, nimble handling, strong performance
  • Bouncy ride, dated equipment and tech, some quality quirks

Design

The Abarth 500 first debuted in 2008, which makes it over a decade old now. Twelve years if you include the Fiat 500 it’s based on, and fifteen if you cast your mind back to the Trepiuno concept that first previewed the 500’s revival in 2004.

And yet, the design hasn’t really dated. That the overall shape echoes that of a car that first appeared in 1957 partly explains the modern 500’s timelessness, but sympathetic updates now and then without messing with the overall formula (are you listening, Mini?) have freshened it up where required.

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There will be some who find the Abarth’s addenda a little heavy-handed and others unconvinced by what is a relatively tall and narrow shape, but just like the driving experience, you shouldn’t take the heavily stylised details, multitude of alloy wheel designs, bright colour options and retro touches too seriously.

For maximum impact, there’s always the convertible variant, too, with its old-school retracting canvas roof which slides its way onto the rear deck. Paired with the two-tone paintwork of the Rivale model you might just kid yourself you could pull off a lifestyle on the Italian Riviera.

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