Categories: Tests

Abarth 500e test (2023): the first electric Abarth is still making noise!

L’electrification of the vehicle fleet sometimes brings surprises. The models from Abarth, well known for their sportsmanship and their hoarse sound, cannot ignore this harsh reality either. The end of combustion affects all manufacturers, even those with the sportiest DNA, as we recently saw with Maserati and its Granturismo Folgore For example. With her 500th galvanized, the Italian tuner had to respond to issues of prime importance. How will this battery-powered version fare against its big thermal sister, the Abarth 695 and its 4 cyl. 180 hp? What to do when electrification deprives its customers of obvious emotional capital, such as the vocalizations of the so significant exhaust of these small bombinettes? Will Scorpio’s DNA be respected? To find out, the brand invited us to test drive the 500th Abarth, in the iconic region of Balocco on the Fiat history circuit!

Design: a more piquant Fiat 500e!

This Abarth takes up the design of the Fiat 500e from which it is directly derived. Nothing changes in terms of dimensions. On the other hand, on the look side, the Scorpion has distilled its DNA with several clearly visible appendages. On the front face, for example, the mention ABARTH written in full is placed on the closed grille, while the Turin crest sits proudly on the bonnet. The shield changes slightly, with new honeycomb ventilation grilles and more aggressive side vents. In profile, the “radical” 500e adopts titanium gray mirror shells, a dark-tinted open roof just like the rear windows and finally 18-inch alloy wheels, also in titanium gray. At the rear, a spoiler and a new diffuser add more sportiness to the silhouette of the sporty city car. Good news, the trunk volume remains identical to the basic 500e, namely 185 liters. Finally, the standard bodywork will be offered in Acid Green, but four other colors will also be available as an option, for the tidy sum of 850 € : Blue Poison, Black Venom, White antidote or Red Adrenaline.

Habitacle: du leather et de l’Alcantara

This small bombinette is offered with 3 levels of finishes in addition to the “basic” version. The version Pack, Turismo and finally a launch edition Scorpion over-equipped. Our trial version, equipped with the version Turismo and offers a nice mix of leather and alcantara. They are present on the steering wheel, in the upholstery and finally on the dashboard with embossed Alcantara. Facing the driver, 7 inch digital handset is present, assisted by a 10-inch central touch screencompatible A pple Car Play et Android Auto. The presence of numerous physical controls reassures and remains very practical. Compared to a Fiat 500e, the sportiness is there. The sports steering wheel, the aluminum pedals, the bucket seats, and the presence of specific stitching do not deceive. No doubt, we are on board a sporty version of the little 500e!

At the wheel: efficiency and even noise!

Before apprehending this small bombinette at the wheel, it is necessary to make a stop on the technical sheet. Based on a Fiat 500eAbarth has increased the power of the electrical unit by 88 To 114 kWwhich is the equivalent of 155 horsepower. The couple goes to 235 Nm, with the transmission maintained on the two front wheels. On the raw acceleration side, the city car of the Scorpion carries out the exercise from 0 to 100 km/h in 7 seconds. It’s better than one Mini Cooper SE (7.3 sec) and just behind a Cupra Born VZ equipped with the largest engine of 230 hp, which does the same exercise in 6.6 seconds. But to impress its audience, the designers of this “battery-powered” Abarth hit hard, even taking the risk of comparing it with its latest thermal counterpart, the 695. During this track test day at Balocco in Italy, on the Fiat group’s iconic circuit, several thermal Abarths were presented, equipped with the 180 hp 4-cylinder. A pledge of confidence for the testers, we were even able to ride with the 695s before setting foot in the supercharged 500s. Still on the figure side, if the thermal requires only 6.7 seconds to go to 100km/h, it is on the other hand 1 second slower during the exercise from 20 to 40km/h. Only problem, its top speed: limited to 155km/h, it’s 70 less than the 695…!

But in practice, what does it give? What could be better than trying out this new Abarth on the circuit to test the cornering performance of this little bombinette. First surprise, it’s raining, the track is soaked! After the first bends, despite the 300 kg extra compared to the 695, the “barthized” 500th is riveted to the ground. The curves are linked together without difficulty and the car starts again very strongly when exiting a bend thanks to the instantaneous torque. A treat this chassis! On the steering side, the car is incisive but could be even more so. And during the big braking sessions, not too many scares: these are reinforced by the presence of discs at the rear in addition to those before. On the other hand, out of the circuit, the small bumpy roads around Balocco leave us perplexed. The Abarth’s firmer suspensions are very slapstick, and the big 18-inch rims don’t make things any better.

In terms of driving modes, this Abarth 500e offers three different ones: Turismo, Scorpion Street et Scorpion Track. The first, designed for city driving, throttles the motor to 100kW and adds plenty of regenerative braking. The second allows all the power while maintaining braking when lifting the foot. These first two modes also offer the One Pedal mode, allowing driving only with the right foot. Finally, the Scorpion Track mode totally unleashes the car and almost completely eliminates regenerative braking.

And the sound in all this? If thermal Abarths were known for their hoarse and very expressive sound, electrification obviously complicates the deal. But second surprise, the Italian engineers have not forgotten this oh so important chapter on the emotional level. As soon as we arrive on the circuit, we are immediately taken aback by a sound environment that has nothing to do with a test drive of an electric city car. A serious hum is present and worse, it even seems to come from the garishly colored carts lined up on the edge of the track. A tour of the cabin allows us to see more clearly: at the press of a button (option charged €1,500), the Abarth 500e roars and offers a sound quite close to a real heat engine… stunning! This sound generator, placed under the car, is actually a very sophisticated loudspeaker which emits the same bass frequencies as an authentic exhaust. If that remains artificial, an evidence cannot be denied: the result is beyond anything that had been done before on a sound imitation from an electric car. Hats off to Abarth!

Regarding the battery, which says increased performance means reduced autonomy. The accumulator of 42 kWh allows until 265 km in the WLTP cycle. In the absence of data measured by the lab, it is difficult to say even if the 200-230 km seem difficult to reach. Finally, the Abarth allows fast DC charging up to 85 kWwhich recharges the batteries from 0 to 80% in less than 35 min.

Verdict: electric isn’t all bad, Abarth says so

What conclusions can be drawn from this first version of the battery-powered Abarth? In terms of performance, this galvanized 500e is very satisfactory. Electric requires, the departures are guns and the instantaneous recoveries. The chassis remains excellent, the car is lively and agile and the driving pleasure is undeniably sporty with firm suspensions. On the other hand, on the emotional level, despite the efforts of the Scorpio brand, the results remain mixed. If the Italian manufacturer has really made efforts to seduce its public with this sound, certainly artificial but exclusive, it will be up to everyone to make up their own mind. The characteristic of the sound of an Abarth will always remain the unique vocalizations of its 4cyl. with its specific exhaust. With this artificial sound, the exclusivity is no longer… Especially since this pack is chargeable! A height… Too bad.

Finally, on the price side, this new Abarth 500e starts from 36 900 € excluding bonus deducted. It’s €1,500 less than a 500th ” The first“, the most optioned electric Fiat with 118 hp! Our trial version in Turismo pack starts from 40 900 € and for fans of driving with the wind in your hair, a convertible version will also be available!

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Data sheet of the trial version:

  • Version : Abarth 500e
  • Finition : Turismo
  • Prix : 40 900 €
  • CO2: 0
  • Bonus : 5 000 €
  • Motor type 1 permanent magnet synchronous electric motor
  • Tax CVs: 3
  • Battery: 42 kWh
  • Power: 154 hp (114 kW)
  • Couple : 235 Nm
  • Fuel Electricity
  • Transmission Traction
  • Automatic gearbox, 1 gear
  • WLTP autonomy 250 km
  • Autonomy AP /
  • Builder Acceleration: 7s
  • Length 3.64m
  • Width 1.75m
  • Height 1.52m
  • Poids : 1 365 kg

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