Sometimes you can deal with ride and handling as a whole, so neatly blended are the two elements of a car’s dynamic make-up. Not so the Abarth. This is a car that has ride. And it has handling. And one is considerably better than the other.
It’ll not surprise you to learn, we suspect, that the ride is the lesser of the two characteristics. The tyres – 205/40 R17 Pirelli P Zeros – are no more aggressively profiled than those of many rivals, but this car is hard. The town ride veers somewhere between aggressive and shocking, crashing over bumps and thumping in and out of potholes. If someone had told you that the transporting blocks had been left in the springs, you’d go and check rather than laugh it off.
However, there is a pay-off to that paranoid level of body control, and it comes in the precision of the Abarth’s movements when things get twistier. On tracks like those at MIRA, or on good, smooth roads, the Abarth nicks along with rewarding precision and impressive agility.
On busier road surfaces, things are inevitably livelier inside the cabin, too. The body stays less flat than in, say, a Fiesta ST or even a Clio RS 200 but stops short of feeling like you’re being bucked along. Just about.