Is the Abarth 500e a correct electrical pocket rocket? We get behind the wheel to seek out out…
In the event you’ve ever pushed or heard one of many Abarth-tuned Fiat 500s through the years, you’ll know that they’re vehicles that bombard the senses.
Not solely do they appear suitably sporty, they drive like go-karts and the aggressive exhaust word is like no different small automotive on the highway.
Provided as a hatch or convertible (extra like a cabio), the Abarth 500e is the model’s first totally electrical automotive.
Priced from £34,195 and based mostly on the Fiat 500e metropolis automotive, the Abarth model definitely seems the half.
Up entrance there’s a deeper entrance bumper, there are larger aspect skirts and wider wheel arches down the aspect, whereas a big roof spoiler and meaty bumpers adorn the rear.
Because of a wider observe and decrease sports activities suspension, the Abarth 500e’s stance is extra athletic too.
Then to high it off, there’s a alternative of 5 colors, every with cool names – Antidote White, Venom Black, Adrenaline Purple, Acid Inexperienced and Poison Blue (the latter two are particularly vibrant), plus a smattering of scorpion badging.
Inside there’s a brand new flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara, plus sports activities seats. You additionally get the identical (a lot improved) 10.25-inch touchscreen from the flagship 500e as normal (that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), plus a 7.0-inch digital driver’s show.
I examined the top-of-the-range Turismo mannequin in each hatch and soft-top physique types. The driving place is (fortunately) decrease than the Fiat 500e, whereas the body-hugging seats are snug and supportive.
Beneath the Abarth’s pumped-up bodywork you’ll discover the identical 42.2kWh battery that powers the usual Fiat 500e, although it’s now paired with a extra highly effective 152bhp electrical motor driving the entrance wheels.
Nevertheless, the primary shock is that it’s swift relatively than blisteringly quick off the road, not like another EVs. With a 0-62mph time of seven.0 seconds, it’s solely a fraction faster than a petroleum Abarth 595, although instantaneous torque makes it really feel sooner as a result of it’s additionally a second sooner from 25-37mph.
The draw back of this energy enhance is that the Abarth’s takes successful in comparison with the Fiat 500e, which on paper can handle as much as 199 miles on a full cost.
For the report, the hatch has a 164-mile vary, whereas the cabrio is as much as 157 miles. In different phrases, the Abarth 500e may be very a lot in city territory, together with different EV rivals together with the MINI Electrical, Honda e and Mazda MX-30.
Similar to the Fiat 500e, the Abarth can cost at as much as 85kW, that means you may high up 80% in 35 minutes, or in different phrases, you may add round 25 miles of vary in 5 minutes.
Don’t get me fallacious, I just like the Fiat 500e, however for me its weakest level is that it’s not fairly as agile because it seems when pushed, so how does the Abarth stack up on the highway?
Properly, it definitely goes an extended technique to type that difficulty. As an illustration, there’s sharper steering, which makes the automotive flip in additional keenly.
The journey is on the agency aspect, however don’t fear, it’s not wherever close to as dangerous as Abarth 595/695s of outdated that used to crash over potholes.
For probably the most half, the Abarth 500e feels composed, there’s loads of grip, and physique lean is saved in examine on more difficult roads.
The brakes are efficient, if barely aggressive at occasions (unusually for cheap EV, it has discs all spherical). Go for it on sooner, twisty roads and also you’ll have the arrogance to push on.
You can even select from three drive modes – Turismo, Scorpion Avenue and Scorpion Observe. The primary is extra comfort-orientated, limiting energy and delivering extra regenerative braking by way of one-pedal driving round city. Scorpion Avenue retains the regen however provides full energy, whereas Observe is all about efficiency.
Personally, I discovered the regenerative braking a tad too fierce. What’s extra, the settings solely change with the drive mode, so there are not any paddles behind the steering wheel to regulate the regen, which at all times work higher.
General, the Abarth 500e is settled and predictable, however I’d cease in need of calling it thrilling.
For now, my benchmark city sizzling hatch stays the road-going go-kart that’s the MINI Electrical.
Nevertheless, there’s one space the place the Abarth 500e beats its rivals palms down. Its get together piece is a sound generator which reproduces the exhaust word of a petrol-powered Abarth.
Greater than 6,000 hours was spent analysing and creating the right sound, and the tip outcome definitely provides to the enjoyable aesthetic of the automotive.
Sadly, the novelty wears off on longer runs and it’s extra enjoyable to modify off the drone (which feels like an engine caught in third gear) and benefit from the refinement that solely an EV can provide.
Irritatingly, you may solely disengage it by way of the fiddly digital driver’s show – and the automotive must be stationary. Apparently, Abarth is already wanting into methods to make the method simpler.
From a practicality perspective, the Abarth 500e is a combined bag. Improbable although the entrance seats are, they’re bulkier than the Fiat’s and eat additional into the already tight rear house. All however the smallest youngsters would battle to take a seat within the again.
Baggage capability is proscribed too. There’s simply 185 litres with the rear seats up, or 550 litres with them folded down. And on a private word, I discovered I couldn’t relaxation my left foot comfortably.
There’s just about no distinction between the hatch and convertible on the highway, regardless of the latter being a tad heavier (25kg).
The slick electrical hood mechanism could be opened and closed on the transfer, and aside from a slight lack of cabin refinement, it’s a lot the identical because the hatchback.
Verdict: The Abarth 500e is an entertaining EV debut from Fiat’s sporty sister model. There’s undoubtedly nonetheless house for a warmer model, however for now this swift city runabout provides a enjoyable mix of excellent seems, driver engagement and on a regular basis consolation.