Why we’re running it: To find out if the reborn 500 in fully electric guise is just as charming to live with as it is to look at
Life with a Fiat 500 EV: Month 5
Our EV meets its potent, Abarth-badged petrol sibling. Is it a taste of what’s to come? - 4 May
It would be easy to assume the electric cars rapidly reshaping our definition of performance exist only at the upper end of the price spectrum: think Tesla Model S Plaid, Rimac Nevera or Lotus Evija. But it’s occurring in the city car segment too.
Where once you might have walked into an Abarth dealership, ticked a few options boxes and driven away in a 595 Competizione, now you can head to the other side of the office, spend a similar amount on an electric Fiat 500 and be comfortably beating ICE-engined cars at every set of traffic lights on your way home.
Does that sound like an easy decision? Perhaps, if you never leave the city limits. Both cars achieve 0-30mph in a little under 3.0sec and have not too dissimilar torque outputs (162lb ft in the 500 versus 184lb ft for the 595), despite the EV being about 300kg heavier and some 60bhp down on power.
But while the Fiat’s accelerative efforts then begin to drop off as its speedo needle continues to climb, the Abarth is still surging forward. Officially, it’s more than 2.0sec faster to 60mph, and is accompanied by a rorty four-pot soundtrack.
The thing is, I’ve found the 500 to be rather entertaining when shown a good bit of B-road, with stiff suspension that allows for very little roll through corners and a low centre of gravity, thanks to the placement of the battery.