Other times, other mores, Fiat’s sporting signature is in turn going electric. What would Carlo Abarth have thought of it?
Several monuments of sports motoring have taken – or will take – the plunge. After Mini and Porsche, and soon Alpine and Lotus, it’s Abarth’s turn to give in to the sirens of the electricity fairy. What would John (Cooper), Ferdinand (Porsche), Jean (Rédélé), Colin (Chapman) and Carlo (Abarth) think? We’ll never know !
It’s on one of Alfa Romeo’s historic sites, the Balocco circuit, created in the 1960s in the middle of the rice fields of the Po plain, which the scorpion brand invited the international press to test drive the Abarth 500e. Engineers seem confident because our tests begin at the wheel of a “thermal” Abarth, a 695 Competizione of 180 hp. Very few manufacturers dare to do this kind of comparison. Hat ! When we say the Italians are bad players…
The Abarth 595 Competizione as a benchmark
At the firing of the small boiler – which for a long time no longer cubed 695 cm3! – we (again) fall under the spell of the gurgles and backfires of the sport exhaust. And revving always so pleasurable, barely interrupted by the passage of reports of the robotic transmission. We also find roman chariot sinking which serves motor skills and highlights ultra lively behavior when lifting the foot in turn. The very selective layout of the small circuit and the wet track only aggravate the phenomenon: our little scorpion alternates under and over the bend, which the poor anti-skid has a hard time controlling. A frenzied rock & roll which reminds us of a scene from Fellini’s masterpiece, La Dolce Vita, where Adriano Celentano ends up falling off his platform, he sways so much! We stayed on the track.
Back to the future and radical change of atmosphere aboard the electric scorpion. If the noisemaker creates an illusion for a few seconds by trying somehow to restore the oh so charming and characteristic sound signature of the famous Monza escapement dear to Karl (the Austrian first name of Carlo), it quickly becomes tiresome as it remains monotonous. Only in slow motion can it deceive. Of which act.
First observation, between two bends it pushes as hard as the 595, or even slightly more counts given the torque which, although slightly lower – 235 Nm against 250 on the thermal – is immediate. And yet the maximum power is “only” 155 hp… only full battery. Still, beyond 100 km / h, the sensations fade quicklythe power curve remaining dramatically flat. Mention very well on the other hand to the chassis, already very well born on the Fiat 500e, which offers remarkable efficiency here, especially as the weight distribution is optimized (57/43%). A weight that reaches 1,435 kg, including 294 for the batteries. If the thermal weighs barely 1,100, this mass is not exaggerated for an electric model. The wheelbase has been increased by 2.4 cm and the tracks widened by 6 cm. Except some small loss of traction “foot in the sheet” when exiting bends, typical of electric cars, the docility of the chassis is stunning. The anti-skid is so effective that you can stay “welded” in wet curves! Efficiency also to be credited to depreciation whose amplitude and progressiveness are without common measure with those of the thermal version. Gossips will point out that it is not difficult to do better since its origins – from Panda – date back to… 2007.
Qualities confirmed on the road…
In addition to these few laps, a short road trip of around sixty kilometers will only confirm these first good impressions. In addition to faultless ergonomics, with particular mention of excellent semi-bucket seats and small flat sports steering wheel, the atmosphere on board contributes to the charm of this scorpion. If all the materials are not irreproachable with the persistence of certain plastics of very ordinary quality – we do not change! – we appreciate a design and certain materials such as Alcantara which covers part of the dashboard, typically Italian. An origin proudly recalled on the storm doors: “Made in Turino”, this 500th being manufactured at the Mirafiori site. Like the silhouette of the scorpion that can be found everywhere on board (seats, steering wheel, pedals, etc.) as well as on the outside (grille and rims in particular). The new logo alone – an electric green striped scorpion crossed by a lightning bolt – would justify the purchase! By the very admission of its parents, its design required a long work.
Another good surprise, the cushioning comfort proves satisfactory, especially for a small sports car here fitted with 18” specific Bridgestone Potenza Sport. What to complete the silence of operation, once cut the virtual exhaust, and the rear habitability, far from being ridiculous. All that remains is to deal with a trunk that only holds 185 liters.
Driving pleasure further enhanced by an e-pedal mode, on two of the three driving programs, making it possible to completely forget the brake pedal, while reinforcing the regeneration of the batteries. Was added, on our Cabriolet version, the charm of the retractable canvas pavilion which, in the absence of being able to enjoy the gurgles of the exhausts, makes it possible to take advantage of the first rays of the sun which, lack of pot, were not there in the plain of the Po!
Equally favorable balance sheet on the consumption side since – for once – our average was set at a lower level than the official one: 16,4 kWh, against 18.1! Enough to count on a real autonomy of nearly 230 km. And this despite unrestrained driving with even several spikes, just to check the maximum speed (155 km/h).
There is no doubt that despite its electric prices, this new version will fully satisfy a segment of the current customers of the thermal Abarth 500, followers of urban cruising, elbow to the door. As for the real amateurs of small bombinettes, they will salute its chassis but will remain unsatisfied in terms of sensations and… sound!
Technical sheet Abarth 500e
Version tested: €44,300 (Turismo Cabriolet)
From : €36,900 (sedan)/€42,300 (Cabriolet)
CO2/bonus : 0/from 5,000 to 7,000 €
Fiscal power : 3 CV
Manufacturing country : Italy
Electric: 155 hp, from €36,900 to €46,000
Engine : permanent magnet synchronous electrics, 400 v nickel-maganese-cobalt battery, 42 kWh (37.3 kWh net)
Transmission : front-wheel drive, 1-speed automatic (+ reverse)
Power maxi : 155 ch
Couple maxi : 235 Nm
Weight (kg) : 1 435
Long.xlarg.xhaut. (m) : 3,67×1,68×1,52
Wheelbase (m) : 2,32
Turning diameter : 9,7
Max speed (km/h) : 155 km/h
0-100 km/h : 7”0
Average consumptione (kWh – manufacturer/during test): 18.1/16.4
Autonomy manufacturer/during test (km): 242/227
Charging time : 15h15 (3 kW), 4h15 (11 kW), 35’ (borne rapide 85 kW, 0-80%)
standard tires : 205/45 R 17
Test tires : Bridgestone Potenza Sport (205/40 R 18)
5/2 chest (l): 185/550
- Sound Pack: 2.0 exhaust + JBL audio (€1,500)
- Mode 2 charging cable (300 €)
- Honda e, 153 hp, from €42,100
- Mini Cooper SE, 184 hp, from €37,400
- Future electric Alpine GTi
Also read on auto-moto.com:
Essay Honda e
Essay Mini Cooper SE
Future electric Alpine GTi