This is more like it. Not ridiculously fast, but small, chuckable, responsive and slightly bouncy in a puppyish way. Yep, unlike the MG 4 XPower I drove last week, this Abarth 500e feels more like an electric hot hatch. But is it a good one, and does it work on UK roads?
All right, this particular Abarth 500e isn’t strictly a hatchback, because it’s the convertible, with the fabric roof that folds back, but they’re the same car. We’ll get to the roof.
The Abarth 500e is the sporty version of the electric Fiat 500 (which confusingly isn’t called the 500e) that came out about two years ago. While that might not sound like a logical progression if you’ve never driven the Fiat, the little electric car has always been surprisingly good to drive. It was ready for a bit more power, some better steering, grippier tyres and some sportier touches.
And that’s exactly what the Abarth has got. The 42kWh battery remains the same, but the front motor has been upgraded to 152bhp and the gear ratio has been reduced, sacrificing some range and for acceleration. The springs are stiffer and the dampers have been retuned, and there are 17in or 18in wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza Sport tyres.
Visually, Abarth has made much more of an effort than MG. Aside from the new wheels, there are more aggressive bumpers front and rear and a range of unique colours, while inside there are Alcantara bucket seats, an Alcantara three-spoke wheel and Alcantara dashboard trim. Hope you like Alcantara.