Packing a Punch

Legendary Italian performance marque Abarth has a grand back catalogue of modifying sporting Fiats and cracking racing specials. Ben Selby reports.

Now, the Abarth brand is attached to the all-electric variant of the new Fiat 500, which Fiat claim is the start of a “new era of fun to drive.” Does it still feel like an Abarth though?

On the subject of looks, Fiat has certainly nailed it. The Abarth 500e sports all the flares, scoops and spoilers one would associate with Abarth performance. You also get “Abarth” in block lettering across the front and rear and lots of lime green Abarth Scorpion emblems denoting this pocket rocket’s eco conscious stance. Also, the fact my test car was coated in Adrenalin Red gave some major “mini Ferrari” vibes.

Power comes from a 42kWh battery pack and 113kW/235Nm is sent to the front wheels via an electric motor. The Abarth 500e is compatible with AC and DC fast charging, with the 11kW former giving you full battery from empty in just over four hours and the 85kW latter 80 per cent in half an hour.

Inside, you have further Abarth madness such as Abarth embossed alcantara sports seats, pedals, and a sports steering wheel. The 10.25 touch screen system is easy to use and can display all manner of driving data. You also have parking sensors all around, a reversing camera, a hefty JBL sound system, wireless charging, heated front seats, a fixed glass roof and other active safety features.

Switch on and its EV quiet, until you activate the “Abarth Sound Generator.” Turn this on and the grumble of a beefed up four-cylinder engine emits itself throughout the car. Incredibly, you can even tap the throttle and it revs with each flex of your right shoe. This feature left this writer in stitches, however it is more of a novelty and does drone on a bit when travelling at motorway speeds, so for longer journeys, it’s best to revert to the sound of silence.

This is only a small niggle, as the Abarth 500e is still a peach when it comes to an enthusiastic drive. Switch over to Track mode and that aforementioned right shoe can extract some eager forward momentum and even, as I found out, a smattering of squealing front tyres from a standing start as the traction control fights to keep things under control.

The Abarth 500e is a heck of a laugh. Urban traffic and tight switchback roads are its natural stomping ground and its ability to charge along, no pun intended, such bitumen while exhibiting perfectly balanced handling characteristics means even a relatively supple ride is nothing short of impressive. Plus, you can switch

over to Turismo mode to extract an absolute maximum of the car’s 253km electric range.

All in all, even without petrol power, the Abarth 500e is still a cracking wee thing and still embodies so much of why many love the Abarth name.

2024 Abarth 500e

  • Price: $74,990 + ORC
  • Powertrain: 42kWh battery and electric motor
  • Power: 113kW
  • Torque: 235Nm
  • Zero to 100km/h: 7 seconds
  • Electric Range: 253km
  • Top speed: 150km/h
  • Weight: 1113kg
  • Wheels: 18-inch alloy

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