Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt First drive: Abarth 500e
Cookies on Businesscar

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Business Car website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookies at any time

BusinessCar magazine website email Awards mobile

The start point for the best source of fleet information

First drive: Abarth 500e

Date: 18 August 2023   |   Author: Martyn Collins

Proof that EV hot hatches don't have to be fast to be fun.
Standard equipment:
17in alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, automatic climate control, keyless go, LED headlights and taillights, single-piece sports seats, cruise control, Uconnect 10.25in touchscreen, 7in TFT digital cluster, Abarth Sound Generator.
Electric: 152hp
Equipment grades:
500e, Turismo
Single-speed automatic

Like the ICE-powered Abarth 500 models before it (which continue on sale), the 500e is based on the current Fiat 500 - this time the EV version, which confusingly isn't called the 500e. 

Name confusion aside, the All-Electric Fiat 500 has proved to be a decent small EV, in the past two years it has been on sale. 

Although, it always felt like a sportier version was on the cards, to solve the only shortcomings with the electrified 500. We felt that the car could really benefit from more power, and keener dynamics.

To address the power issue, the Abarth gets a more powerful 152hp motor at the front, with a reduced gear ratio, equalling quicker acceleration. There are also rear disc brakes to help the 500e stop.

The most novel drivetrain addition is the 'Sound Generator,' with speakers inside and out, to fool you into thinking you're driving an Abarth 500 ICE model.

To tighten up the 500's handling, the 500e gets stiffer springs, retuned dampers, and the choice of new 17 or 18in alloy wheels.

Outside, on top of the bigger wheels, the Abarth gets more aggressive front and rear bumpers and a range of bright, unique colours to show off these changes. Inside, a set of Alcantara bucket seats is fitted, along with an Alcantara-trimmed multi-function steering wheel and Alcantara dashboard trim. 

All this Alcantara  makes the 500e's interior feel special, although the plastics are unchanged from the standard electric 500 and are hard and scratchy.  Elsewhere the driving position, even for tall drivers, is comfortable, but this comes at the expense of rear space. 

On the road, the Abarth 500e impressed us more than we thought it would. Although not quite a hot hatch, it seems Abarth has made a credible warm(ish) EV alternative. 

Let's start with the 'Sound Generator' - we were told Abarth engineers have put a massive 6,000 hours into developing it. Unless you turn it off (which you can, but the 500e must be at a standstill and it's hidden in a menu that's hard to find!), when you press the start button you're first met by the strum of an electric guitar, and then by the loud hum of a sporty exhaust note. 

To add to the confusion, dab the accelerator and the Abarth revs like you would expect an ICE car to. 

On the move, it works well at B-road speeds and is amplified in the sportiest, Scorpion Track driving mode. However, at higher, motorway speeds, with no gearchanges, the engine noise turns to a drone that soon becomes annoying. 

The three-spoke steering wheel is nice to hold, then when you come to a corner, the 500e surprises with quick and well-weighted steering. Grip levels are high, and the Abarth boasts poised and adjustable handling.

We've talked about the Scorpion Track driving mode, but the Scorpion Street mode is less noisy, with more re-gen effect and is better in our opinion for everyday use. 

The other mode, Turismo, is perfectly suited for town work, as it limits the power.

Also worthy of note is the ride, which is generally comfortable, despite the dynamic changes because of the extra performance. In fact, it only seemed to be troubled by imperfections and the undulating country roads which featured on our test route. 

Finally, the brakes, which are strong and have an unusual amount of feel considering it's an EV - maybe this is down to the new rear-fit disc brakes? 

In fact, the only issue could be the reduced 157-mile range, thanks to the increase in performance. Although this is more than the Mini Cooper SE, and we're sure itwould be fine for a short cross-country commute or urban use.

The Abarth 500e is available in hatch and Convertible versions. The hatch, our favourite, feels the stiffer of the two. 

In our opinion, the Abarth 500e seems like a car setting a trend. It will be interesting to see how the hot hatch EV segment develops with the next Mini EV hatch due to arrive on the marketplace next year.

Abarth 500e Turismo 

P11D: £38,140

Residual value: 48.4%

Depreciation: £19,654

Fuel: £4,334

Service, maintenance and repair: £2,268

Cost per mile: 43.76p

Range: 157 miles

CO2 (BIK %): 0g/km (2%)   

BIK 20/40% a month: £12/£25

Luggage capacity: 185 litres

Battery size/power: 37.3kWh/152hp


  • Looks great inside and out
  • Keen drive
  • Not cheap
  • Predicted depreciation
  • Compromised range
  • Sound Generator will not appeal to all