Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Abarth 595 comes in a variety of trim levels, but they all share the same 1.4-litre T-Jet engine. That means that regardless of which you go for, you have a whopping 165bhp to play with – enough to easily show the Volkswagen Up GTI a clean pair of heels in a straight line.
The engine is willing to rev harder than most small turbocharged engines, has a progressive delivery and feels responsive even from lower revs. We wish its gearbox was a little more slick, but with a 0-62mph time of 7.3sec and a 135mph top speed, straight-line performance isn’t far off that of bigger hot hatches.
Granted, on busier road surfaces, some might find the very firm, bouncy ride a bit wearing, but the upshot is that there’s surprisingly little body lean given the 595’s tall and narrow body. Ultimately, the Up GTI is even more capable, though, with better weighted steering, a greater sense of connection to the front tyres and a grippier front end.