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Abarth 500e

BEST ABARTH EVER? (some text hidden)

By Jonathan Crouch

The Abarth 500e sees this tiny Italian brand take its first EV step. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Reviewword count: 42

Abarth proves that small EVs needn't be boring with this full-battery hot hatch, the 500e. We're promised it will drive, handle and even sound like the company's previous rorty little petrol models. But that the heart and soul here is pure Abarth.

Backgroundword count: 133

It's difficult to think of a brand less suited to the EV generation than Abarth. The company's Fiat-based sports models are all about loud, noisy, profligate performance and nimble handling. Everything you can't usually have in most EVs. Except possibly this one, the Abarth 500e. Some parts of the brand's very vocal community of owners have been less than enthusiastic about the prospect of this full-battery model, but the company says the 500e has been developed in the name of performance in the very best traditions of founder Carlo Abarth. Ultimately, this model will replace the marque's 595 and 695 petrol hot hatch models - and not before time, given that they've been on sale in various guises since 2009. But is a 500e a really a true Abarth? Let's take a look.

Driving Experienceword count: 282

Sound is what sells an Abarth. Always has. So to be successful, 500e has to sound like no EV ever has. It does. The brand has installed a set of speakers beneath the car to faithfully reproduce the engine note of one of its rorty petrol powerplants. And the speakers are linked to the throttle so that as you accelerate, the sound builds, just as it would in a 595 or 695. It sounds remarkably realistic too - and you don't have to take our word for it; a sound generator on the Abarth website will play the powerplant to you. You might dismiss that as a gimmick, but you can't argue with the performance facts here. Namely that the 500e is an all-round faster car than the 595 petrol model it replaces - which doesn't initially seem very likely given that it's much heavier and has 20bhp less in total output. Set against that though, is that the full 152bhp output is of course available immediately, rather than hampered by the turbo lag you'd get in the petrol versions. That instant torque (234Nm of it) propels the car from rest to 62mph in just 7 seconds flat. Even more significant is the 25 to 37mph overtaking increment time of just 1.5 seconds (a full second faster than the 595). 12 to 25mph takes only a second (50% faster even than the 695). Abarth says the car is a second faster around Alfa Romeo's Balocco test track than the 695. There's the usual single-speed EV auto transmission and you work it through three drive modes - 'Turismo', 'Scorpion Street' and 'Scorpion Track' - which can alter brake regen strength and power output.

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£35,000.00 (At 24 Feb 2023)

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Scoring (subset of scores)

Category: Hybrid, Plug-in, Electric & Hydrogen

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
To access the full content library please contact us on 0330 0020 227 or click here

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