Abarth 500e 2024 long-term test

Keen urban drivers have long had to confront a tricky dilemma when buying a car: do you want something that moves with relaxing frugality through cramped, congested city streets, or something brawnier, firmer and less practical but which comes into its own once you’ve vaulted the ring road and found some twistier and more enticing asphalt?

Rarely are you able to have it both ways. Until now, perhaps. Lay off the loud pedal (literally, in this case) and the hot 500e is a fairly sensible commuter, down to the surprisingly generously damped suspension and Savoy hotel-friendly turning circle. But having driven it on the North York Moors a few months back, I know its a giggle on a good road, too.

The tricky bit, though, will be reaching those good roads in the first place, because just getting clear of the M25 takes about 15% of the compact, 42kWh battery. So by the time I’ve nursed it to the start of one of my favourite test routes in, say, Oxfordshire or Sussex, it’s time to plug in – and the Abarth doesn’t top up its battery fast enough to make that a trivial concern. I feel a shift in mindset coming on.

Trivialities such as range and practicality aside, you might have already made up your mind about the 500e, and especially so if you’ve heard the artificial sound generator under the boot, from where it emits a synthesised version of the petrol-powered Abarth 595’s exhaust note in a bid to heighten the sensory satisfaction.

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