Abarth 500e Turismo

Abarth 500e, 2024, front
Abarth 500e, 2024, side
Abarth 500e, 2024, rear
Abarth 500e, 2024, interior

IT can't be an electric car I can hear the engine, my automotive know-it-all neighbour insisted.

It is and you can't I retorted.

In fairness it did sound like an engine but what he could hear was Abarth's clever sound generator system which, in the new 500e, perfectly mimics the sound of the conventional petrol engined Abarth 500.

It might seem a strange thing to add to an electric car but you have to remember that Abarth buyers tend to be real enthusiasts, who not only love the sporty performance of their little road rockets but the sound that they generate too.

So persuading them to give that up to buy a totally silent electric version was probably asking too much.

And if they do succumb to the silent world of electric motoring they can always turn the sound generator off.

One thing that might make them make the transition, however, is the fact that the electric version is faster in its mid-range performance and only slightly slower from the traffic lights at seven seconds to reach 62 miles per hour compared to its engine powered sibling at 6.7 seconds.

In fact Abarth boasts that the new electric version of the 500 outpaces and outhandles its petrol equivalent, which is a bold but not surprising claim because being electric it delivers instantaneous torque and benefits from a 60mm larger track width and 24mm longer wheelbase to improve handling.

There's also better weight distribution with the battery pack sitting under the centre and rear of the floor to help with weight distribution.

A liberal scattering of the brand's iconic scorpion logo inside and outside the car reminds you it's an Abarth but a lightning flash through it signifies the new energy source.

But while, like all Abarth models, the 500e has a sporting persona it's also distinctly cute, with the halfmoon shaped headlights and black plastic arc above looking like eyes and eyebrows and giving the little car a face. It wouldn't look out of place alongside Lightning McQueen in the Disney animated film Cars.

The interior of the range-topping Turismo model - driven here - however, is pure sporting Abarth with superb rally seats in Alcantara and with built-in headrests and an acid green scorpion lasered onto each backrest. Alcantara is also used across the fascia and the racing-style steering wheel is in a combination of Alcantara and leather.

There's no gearshift as such to engage drive, reverse or park, it's all done with buttons below the central touchscreen. There are also three driving modes: Turismo for normal town work; Scorpion Street when you want to liven things up and Scorpion Track to liven things up even more.

Drive in Turismo or Scorpion Street and you can use one pedal driving, where you use the accelerator to both increase speed and - as you lift off - to brake. Only in Scorpion track does this hot hatch revert to conventional driving where you have to apply the footbrake to slow down.

The firm ride means this is not a car for everyone - although it's not too harsh in Turismo mode - but if you are happy with that the 500e is fantastic fun to drive. It's a little car with a big heart and in Scorpion mode really packs a punch.

The road holding is superb and the mid-range acceleration is exhilarating. It's not hard to see why those bitten by the scorpion are hooked and stay with the brand.

Opt for the more expensive Turismo version and you get a very sophisticated little car with keyless entry, heated seats, 360 degree parking sensors, a reversing camera and a tinted glass sunroof..

And while the electric range is relatively small at 164 miles the charging time on a DC fast charger is small too at 35 minutes from 0-80%.

FAST FACTS

Abarth 500e Turismo

Price: £38,195

Mechanical: 152 bhp, single electric motor driving front wheels via automatic transmission

Max Speed: 96 mph

0-62mph: 7.0 secs

Combined MPG: 164 miles

Insurance Group: 23

C02 emissions: 0g/km

Bik rating: 2%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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