ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS REPORTS ON THE NEW #ABARTH 500e
I have driven the Abarth 500 on a number of occasions and each time I have stepped out of the Italian “pocket rocket” with a smile on my face. A car which delivers style, performance and that passion that somehow comes from cars made in Italy. The Abarth 500 with its kart-like handling is legendary and while its stiff suspension may not appeal to the masses, but it certainly scores for me.
Now comes news of yet another chapter in the Abarth 500 story, the arrival of an EV version; yes this little gem is taking to the electric highway. According to Olivier Francois, the Abarth CEO, he states that performance made us do it. In fact, every change made in the Abarth is about getting the best driving performance. The founder of the company Carlo Abarth, always went for performance, and according to Francois nothing has changed: better acceleration, better handling and more fun. The newcomer is the most responsive and exciting Abarth 500 ever in city driving, performing better than an Abarth 695 in responsiveness and it is one second faster in the urban pickup, which means 50% faster acceleration from 20kph (12mph) to 40kph (25mph) than its petrol-powered counterpart. Also faster outside of city driving, for example on hairpin bends, where from 40kph (25mph) to 60kph (37mph) it can reach the target speed in just 1.5 seconds, much faster than its petrol version, which lags behind by 15 metres, reaching 60kph (37mph) a second later. On the open road, the full electric Abarth 500e performs overtaking manoeuvres faster than its petrol version, reaching a speed of 100kph (62mph) (starting from 60kph (37mph) when its petrol counterpart is still driving at 90kph (56mph), with a difference of approximately one second; you could say, every second counts.
The more responsive electric motor, a longer wheelbase, improved support due to widened track widths, and the better balance between the axles offer great handling and driving dynamics, providing the newcomer with a quicker response, better corner entry, and a higher cornering and exit speed. Equipped with a powerful 42 kWh battery coupled with a powerful e-motor, resulting in 113.7kW/155hp and combining the performance of the Scorpion with the innovation of electric mobility. In fact, it can reach 100kph (62mph) from zero before you even realise it, in just seven seconds and it boasts of best-in-class acceleration, and, in the meantime, ensures zero emissions. There are three driving modes which focus on performance, Turismo, Scorpion Street and Scorpion Track, giving drivers total freedom to fully enhance the sporty set-up and unleash the power of their Abarth in every challenge on the road. Exciting and fast, precisely in those conditions where you can really have fun and surely that is one of the joys of driving. That is how the brand has succeeded in uniting its enthusiasts with people who have never raced before. In fact, the 500e is aiming to enlarge the Abarth target market while still staying true to its roots and DNA.
To minimize its charging time, the 500e is equipped with the 85-kW fast-charging system to charge the car’s battery very quickly and for example, all it takes is less than five minutes to build up a sufficient energy reserve for daily requirements around 40kph (25 miles), which is less than the time it takes to choose your next destination. When in a hurry, the fast charge reaches 80% of the range in only 35 minutes. I always enjoyed the engine sound of an Abarth, not too worry, the 500e is the first and only city car that can be equipped with the Sound Generator, that roar this little Italian can produce. Exterior styling remains sporty and with the interior the theme continues. Scorpionissima is a special launch edition, just 1,949 units which pays homage to the brand’s birth year. A very high spec version available in hatchback and cabrio style and will be available in Acid Green or Poison Blue.
Still with the 500 story, British designer Afzal Kahn has unveiled the Fiat 500ec Designio, a version based on the ultimate electric city car, which showcases Anglo-Italian styling, bringing diverse influences into balance in a decidedly contemporary design. The styling of the front and rear has been sensitively refreshed to ensure that the much loved 500 DNA remains, but with a more modern, aggressive feel. Adorned with a plethora of sporty and luxurious upgrades that set it apart from the standard 500e, this quintessential city car sets a new benchmark with its more powerful appearance.
A Designio grille in gloss onyx black gives the vehicle an unmistakable identity, whilst a remodelled satin black front bumper valance has been inspired by track focused racing vehicles from both past and present. The four spoke 18 inch light alloy wheels were manufactured at Fondmetal, the legendary Italian foundry and long-time associates of Kahn, and are finished in hyper silver, while the sports suspension, which lowers the vehicle by 25mm, was developed in partnership with industry-leaders H&R. The theme is continued with Designio insignia shields, finished in gold, and a Designio signature coach line emphasising traditional craftmanship.