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Abarth 500e (2023 - )

The stunning Abarth 500e is the brand’s first fully electrified car and replaces the outgoing petrol model.

Starting price:
£41,195

Why we love it:
  • Superb styling inside and out – what’s not to love about it?
  • Punchy performance with instant acceleration
  • Sound generator produces realistic engine noise
Where it could be better:
  • Expensive for the range-toppers
  • Tiny boot and minimal rear space
  • Sound generator cannot be activated or deactivated on the move

Introduction

Abarth 500e

The stunning Abarth 500e is the brand’s first fully electrified car and replaces the outgoing petrol model. But there is no compromise on power or performance with this compact hot-hatch delivering blistering pace along with all the agility you want to get around in the city.

With 96 per cent of the parts differing from the outgoing model, the Abarth 500e is available in two body styles. There is the hatchback or convertible – both of which are guaranteed to attract plenty of attention as they pass, especially if finished in Acid Green or Poison Blue shades.

The other choice customers need to make is whether or not to go for the higher Turismo grades which add £4k to the standard prices but introduce a whole lot of extra kit and bespoke styling features.

We opted for the Abarth 500e Convertible Turismo in Acid Green for our day in the countryside.

The Abarth 500e is a head-turner in both hatchback and convertible body styles thanks to its tiny dimensions, yet fully loaded handling.

The Scorpion is the symbol that represents Abarth and the latest model features a new electrified Scorpion logo, along with neat 18-inch alloys (also featuring the Abarth logo). There are tinted windows, funky headlights that resemble human eyes (complete with eye-lids), privacy glass, plus white front and rear bumper inserts.

Moving inside, the interior is ultra-modern and clutter-free with Scorpion badging on the steering wheel, seat headrests and pedals. 

The main focal point within the cabin is the 10.25-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system with integrated navigation and DAB radio. Creature comforts include a JBL premium sound system, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a charging pad and seven-inch driver display. 

The heated Alcantara sports seats are well bolstered to offer support when edgier driving is called for and there is a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel. A separate panel offers access to all the climate control functions and if you go searching in the door rests you will find a model Abarth with the words ‘Made in Torino’ embossed into the surface.

Everything is perfectly positioned for ease of use and the high-end Turismo models feature 360-degree parking sensors plus rear-view and drone-view camera. This is essential if reversing with the roof lowered as the driver’s view is completely blocked.

On The Road

Handling & Performance

All Abarth 500e models feature a 42.2kWh battery delivering 152hp and 235Nm of torque, resulting in a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.0 seconds and a top speed of 96mph.

Whilst those stats may not set your pulse racing, the Abarth 500e certainly will. The acceleration is instant from the electric powertrain and it feels far more rapid out the blocks than the official figures suggest.

With a WLTP-tested driving range between charges of 150 miles, increasing to 204 miles in city settings, the vehicle will easily cope with the average commute and, for many owners, will only need a battery boost about once every week.

But this car is certainly not restricted to busy city life as it can cope with motorway driving as well as twisting B roads where it really comes alive.

Even when riding high on 18-inch alloy wheels, the vehicle was beautifully balanced with bundles of grip through testing bends. There are drive modes called Turismo, which is ideal for day-to-day driving offering a more comfortable ride. In this mode, the power output is limited to 134hp with 220Nm of torque and the 0-62mph dash takes a second longer. The single-pedal driving function is also more prominent in this mode.

But, if you want to crank up the handling, then toggle across to Scorpion Street and Scorpion Track for added aggression – the latter removes all regenerative braking. There are also two different steering settings that are adjusted automatically when you shift through the drive modes.

One area where the Abarth engineers have really excelled is the sound. Abarth models have always boasted a distinctive roar and were heard long before they were seen. And this model comes as close to that realistic raspy engine note as any EV out there. So, it would seem two years of hard work fine-tuning the sound has really paid off. 

But, on the downside, it cannot be activated or deactivated on the move. So, if you are approaching horses, the sound generator cannot be muted without pulling over and powering down the car. This is something that Abarth will likely address as soon as possible though.

And should the sun put in an appearance, the soft-top canvas roof can be lowered in 12-15 seconds at speeds up to 60mph. The rearview visibility is completely blocked with the roof down, but that’s what the side mirrors are for surely!

Abarth 500e

Space & Practicality

 

A simple glance in the direction of the Abarth 500e and you will have little doubt about its practical capabilities. This is a very compact model that stretches just 3,673mm in length, is 1,683mm wide (1,900mm with mirrors) and 1,518mm tall with a wheelbase of 2,322mm. The boot is small, but can accommodate a couple of overnight bags or the weekly shopping with its 185-litre capacity. This can be increased to 550 litres with the rear seats lowered. 

Despite its mini dimensions, driver and front seat passenger room is very good with ample space for a couple of six-footers to sit side by side. And finding the perfect driving position is simple with plenty of manual seat and steering wheel adjustment. In reality, the rear seats are just to throw a coat or bag on as the leg room is virtually non-existent.

There are a number of handy storage compartments scattered throughout the car, including a decent-sized glovebox, door bins, a covered centre console box with a cup holder and USB ports, seat back pockets and a charging pad.

The Abarth 500e’s battery is optimised for 85kW fast charging so it can be boosted from 0 to 80 per cent in 35 minutes or an extra 25 miles of range (the average daily commute) can be added in just five minutes. Slower charging can also be conducted via 11kW and domestic AC 13-amp sockets which takes 4 hours 15 minutes and 15 hours 15 minutes respectively.

Ownership

Running Costs

The Abarth 500e line-up costs from £34,195 for the entry level model, increasing to £37,195 for the Abarth 500e Convertible. Add Turismo specification to the mix and the price increases by £4,000 resulting in the 500e Turismo hatch costing £38,195 and the range-topping Abarth 500e Turismo Convertible, as tested, rolling in at £41,195.

All the new Abarth 500e cars are electrified so have zero carbon emissions and therefore benefit from a number of Government-led incentives. These include free road tax, the freedom to drive through  Congestion Charge zones without any fines and no penalisation for having a car costing in excess of £40k. 

However, these incentives are on their way out as the Government has announced they will be either reduced or withdrawn completely in 2025.

That said, the Abarth 500e is a very attractive option for company car drivers with an excellent Benefit in Kind tax rating of just two per cent. And you have to admit it would look magnificent in any high-powered executive’s car park.

The insurance rating for the Abarth 500e Convertible Turismo model, as we tested, is group 27.

Verdict

In a day and age where we seem to take everything a little too seriously, along comes the Abarth 500e with its powerful handling and quirky good looks. It’s not cheap and you will hear criticisms about the limited range, but this car is not designed to be a working vehicle that clocks up thousands of motorway miles.

It is great in and around busy cities, but is also very capable when faced with more challenging country lanes where the instant pace makes light work of overtaking slower-moving vehicles.

And we love those bold colours with equally bold titles. But if the Adrenaline Red, Venom Black and Poison Blue are too audacious, there are more subtle shades such as Antidote White.

Abarth is celebrating its 75th year in 2024 and if this new Abarth 500e is a sign of things to come, it’s an exciting future ahead for the Italian marque.

By Maxine Ashford
Jul 25, 2023

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