Abarth 595 review - how does it compare to the Up GTI? - Ride and handling

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

Ride and handling

The Abarth 595 is not… err… conventionally capable. It’s relatively tall and narrow for its size and makes up for it with a comically firm ride, albeit one that doesn’t seem quite so punishing in light of modern vehicles as it did back on its launch in 2008.

To its credit, this does make the car feel very stable and predictable on smoother surfaces and gives the tyres something to work with in extracting lateral grip from the road surface, while despite the car’s tall stance there’s no pitch or dive under acceleration and braking. The flip side is a car that does tend to skitter around on rougher roads and exhibit some torque steer and front-end push on less grippy surfaces. There’s not much steering feel either, though the steering is accurate and responsive off-centre, so it’s not difficult to get used to.

The ride may begin to irritate you in ownership, or at least lead you to seek out aftermarket fixes, but some of the handling quirks can be dismissed because the 595 is such a small car. Like the Up GTI (which isn’t perfect either, but does get closer than the Abarth) you have oodles of space to play with even on relatively narrow roads, and the slightly frenzied power delivery and resulting wheelspin never feel like too much to cope with.

By conventional standards then, the Abarth has plenty of room for improvement. But if you want a car you can hop into and feel like you’re getting its best on pretty much every journey, there’s definitely some merit to the 595 – a characteristic it shares with the 124 Spider also in Abarth’s range.

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