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Car Review

Abarth 500e review

£34,140 - £38,140
810
Published: 19 Sep 2023
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

We've tried it on track, town, bumpy backroads and motorways: it's at home in most of those. In tight turns it resists understeer and accelerates its way out much more promptly than a petrol car that's gone off-boost. In mid-speed curves, the front-to-rear balance lets you edge the tail out by lifting. It's easy to manage and very endearing.

The steering too is nicely judged. It holds the centre well on a motorway. Then it peels into a curve promptly but not twitchily. Deep into the corner, it's proportional and agile.

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The ride's pretty good for a sporty car too. The base Fiat 500 isn't over-endowed with suspension travel so can sometimes bounce a bit, but by being tauter the Abarth suffers less. It doesn't much crash into potholes or suffer from shuddering aftershocks either.

The Cabrio definitely wobbles a little, through its steering column and body twist. It undermines the sense of engineering integrity you get in the hatch. There's slight compensation though, as this flex imparts a little more feel for the chassis' efforts.

What about the performance?

Two drive modes – Scorpion Track and Scorpion Street – give you the full 155bhp and 173lb ft, while Turismo constrains it to 136bhp and 162lb ft. Not much of a cut.

Obviously none of those numbers will scare the Civic Type Rs of this world. But the instant, no lag, seamless response of an electric motor goes some way to making up for it. At least at low speed. Outside lane manoeuvres take planning.

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The different modes have different lift-off behaviour too. Track more or less coasts, leaving the regeneration part to the top of the brake pedal. Street moves to one-pedal drive, so the car slows noticeably when you lift, which is why that's the one for the more interactive cornering.

The sound generator is definitely more than a novelty, adding a bit more interaction to up-and-down driving. It's a drone at cruising speeds though. Just like a real Abarth exhaust.

This is a car you drive yourself. It's got a dumb cruise control and simple lane departure assist, rather than radar cruise and lane centring.

How far will it actually go on a charge?

Driving the 18-inch wheeled hatch on mixed roads with little regard for energy saving, we used up 60 per cent of the battery in 80 miles, which extrapolates to 132 miles range compared with its WLTP of 157.

Driving it on track, we got the equivalent of 50 miles. But then, that's 20-30 laps which is most of a track day. Albeit power does get limited as the state of charge drops into the lower quarters.

We saw 3.4 miles/kWh in lively driving, so running costs shouldn't be bad. A quick 0-80 per cent charge is 35 minutes, peaking at 85kW. The on-board charger is 11kW, allowing 0-100 per cent in four and a quarter hours if you have access to three-phase, or five and a half hours at the more usual 7kW.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

114kW Turismo 42.2kWh 3dr Auto
  • 0-627s
  • CO20
  • BHP152.9
  • MPG
  • Price£38,140

the cheapest

114kW 42.2kWh 3dr Auto
  • 0-627s
  • CO20
  • BHP152.9
  • MPG
  • Price£34,140

the greenest

114kW Turismo 42.2kWh 3dr Auto
  • 0-627s
  • CO20
  • BHP152.9
  • MPG
  • Price£38,140

Variants We Have Tested

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