Road test 2024 Abarth 500e

Road test 2024 Abarth 500e

The new electric 500e is “more fun” than the petrol one, says Abarth. After going to Lingotto to see, sit in and hear it, what do we make of it?


Electric Scorpion

What do we think after seeing it in the metal?


Story by Chris Rees

Images by Abarth/Simon Thompson


The camera picks out a bright yellow projectile as it corkscrews up the helter-skelter ramp at Lingotto, Fiat’s historic factory. In the driver’s seat is Bettina Biasion, alongside her father, rally champion Miki. Then you hear it: a booming, rasping exhaust echoing up the chasm of concrete. Well, not quite: the sound of the electric Abarth 500e is entirely artificial. But it is a sound, and on first acquaintance it’s one I think Abarthisti will like. More on that later.


2024 Abarth 500e

The Biasions have decamped and now it’s my turn to sit in it. There’s no escaping the Fiat 500e origins but steel kick plates with engraved logos, and scorpion-badged metal pedals tell you this is an Abarth. The Alcantara seats look and feel great with their integrated headrests, yellow scorpions and blue-and-yellow stitching. Embossed Alcantara also adorns the dashboard, while the steering wheel is swathed in leather and Alcantara.

The Abarth does look pretty similar to the Fiat 500e on the outside, too. That’s a question the design team dodged as they talked about how the ‘scorpion claw’ theme inspired the new front end, aero-styled wheels and steering wheel. Also new are the white lower spoiler, sculpted side skirts and rear diffuser. The front grille’s perforations have a genuine purpose, too: cooling the battery. By the way, only two launch colours are available, both eye-poppingly bright: Acid Green and Poison Blue.

Philosophically, quite a few Abarthisti think an electric Abarth is crazy – something that was addressed during by CEO Olivier Francois who insisted that the idea had “nothing to do with drugs or alcohol”! The 500e is more fun to drive than the existing petrol model, claims Abarth, the main mission being to make it faster. While the Abarth’s battery has the same 42kWh output as the Fiat 500e, more current flows through it, so performance is better. Overall power rises from 118hp in the Fiat to 155hp, while torque jumps from 220Nm to 235Nm. Also, the core inverter is different, the pedal map is sharper and the gear ratio is tweaked, all boosting acceleration. The results? 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds – peppy but not quite as quick as the existing petrol 695 (6.7 seconds). However, in-gear acceleration is better: 20-40km/h (12-25mph) is 50% faster; 60-100km/h (37-62mph) takes one second less than the petrol 695; and on Alfa Romeo’s Balocco’s test track, the battery model is over a second quicker.


Road test 2024 Abarth 500e - interior

Selectable via a centre console wheel, there are three driving modes: Turismo, Scorpion Street and Scorpion Track. Turismo cuts power to 134hp and torque to 220Nm and makes the steering lighter, while Scorpion Street offers full power while maximising regenerative braking for one-pedal driving. Scorpion Track unleashes maximum performance potential. Weight is a major factor in all EVs and at 1370kg, the 500e is fully 335kg heavier than the petrol 595.

The main advantage, though, is how low down that weight sits, as well as 43/57 front/rear weight distribution. The suspension has the same architecture as the Fiat 500e but gets stiffer springs and specific damper tuning. Other differences include less supportive power steering and all-round disc brakes (in place of the Fiat’s rear drums). The result, claims the company, is “the most responsive and exciting Abarth 500 ever” with better turn-in and higher cornering speeds. What’s Miki Biasion’s verdict on how it drives? “The acceleration is fantastic, very aggressive. The handling is very good, very light, the brakes are fantastic and I like the noise.”

Ah yes, the noise. The (optional) sound generator consists of a woofer under the rear floor and speakers that mimic the sound of Abarth’s petrol engine. It’s not a simple recorded playback but a fully computer-generated simulation, one that can be turned on and off as you wish. Yes it’s fake, which instantly gets my back up, but honestly it sounds way better than most rival systems I’ve heard. By the way, total range hasn’t been homologated yet but Abarth engineer Maurizio Salvia says it will definitely be more than 155 miles (the Fiat 500e is 199 miles). Charging at 85kW takes less than five minutes to add 30 miles of range, while 80% capacity can be reached in 35 minutes, or a fair bit longer with a home wallbox.

Abarth has confirmed that higher-powered models will follow – in CEO Olivier Francois’ words, “a bigger brother that’s faster, meaner and louder” – quite possibly badged 595e and 695e. For now, Abarth dealers are accepting pre-bookings from members of the Scorpionship Club. The first European deliveries will start in June 2023, spearheaded by the 500e Scorpionissima limited edition (only 1949 units to be built). Pricing has yet to be revealed but is likely to be around £38,000.


POWER TO THE PETROL

Not a fan of electric power? Don’t worry: Abarth will continue to offer its old-school turbo tearaways, with regular updates promised. How much longer will it last? That will be at most when Euro 7 emissions rules come into force, as the 595/695 won’t pass – and that date is currently 1 July 2025. Realistically you’ve probably got one or two more years to get your order in.

We’ve heard the 500e as it spiralled up Lingotto’s ramps – and it sounds remarkably petrol-like


TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS 2024 Abarth 500e

  • ENGINE: Electric motor
  • BATTERY CAPACITY: 42kWh
  • MAX POWER: 113.7kW (155hp)
  • MAX TORQUE: 235Nm (173lb ft)
  • TRANSMISSION: Single-speed auto, front-wheel drive
  • DIMENSIONS: 3631mm (L), 1687mm (W), 1508mm (H)
  • WEIGHT: 1370kg
  • TOP SPEED: 93mph (estimated)
  • 0-62MPH: 7.0 sec
  • RANGE: 155 miles (estimated)
  • PRICE: £38,000 (estimated)

ABARTH 500E AT A GLANCE

Based on Fiat 500eEnhanced EV powertrain develops 155hpUprated steering, suspension and brakesQuicker on most measures than existing 695Two body styles: hatchback and convertibleLaunch Scorpionissima edition in Acid Green or Poison Blue
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