Abarth 500e Review (2023) | Autocar

The steering is lighter and more relaxed than the petrol car, yet retains the precision. The front end feels sharper and it turns in more keenly, offering greater resistance to understeer that ultimately still wins out.

It feels like you can carry more speed into and out of corners despite not being as fleet of foot. Braking is strong, and done chiefly by the disc brakes (yes, even at the rear, unlike in most EVs) in the Scorpion Track driving mode that limits regenerative braking from the motor.

As the speeds rise, the sensation of that speed oddly doesn’t, perhaps as much to do as the fact it’s a single-speed transmission with no real crescendo built alongside the speed.

It’s fun rather than exciting, objectively faster it might be but the sensations feel a bit slower. As for what all this does to the battery, driven on circuit expect a range of 50 miles. 

Fifty miles is about as much as you’d normally fancy in the petrol 695 on the road before it all gets a bit too uncomfortable. Not so in the 500e, which like all the best hot hatches does its best work on B-roads.

It’s a pleasing car to attack a series of bends with, easy to place and precise with its controls and a good level of driver involvement from the chassis. The ride quality and comfort is an enormous improvement over the 695, with the crashing and wincing of the former replaced by firmness but sophistication now, even on the large 18in alloys of our test car.

It’s a well-judged compromise between everyday comfort and driver engagement as required, a bit like a Volkswagen GTI model. Yes, there are sharper and more engaging hot hatches yet there’s nothing in the chassis to perturb you from covering big distances to seek out a favourite road.

That is perhaps apart from the drivetrain itself. After a while you go hunting for the ‘off’ button for the noise as it’s quite droney and actually annoying in the end as you know it’s artificial. To turn it off you have to stop the car and navigate some menus on the instrument cluster, but do so and you’re rewarded with some peace and quiet at least. Yet what’s left behind could be an electric drivetrain from almost any car: it’s quick and has instant responses but so does a Skoda Enyaq. Not even this most fun-spirited of cars can overcome this powertrain engagement challenge.

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