Abarth 500e

Abarth 500e

Steering is lighter and more relaxed than a petrol car, but maintains precision. The front end feels sharper and corners more precisely, offering greater resistance to the understeer that eventually overcomes it.

It feels like you can carry more speed into and out of corners despite not being agile. Braking is solid and is mostly done by disc brakes (yes, even at the rear, unlike most EVs) in the Scorpion Track driving mode which prevents regenerative engine braking.

As the speed increases, the sense of speed doesn’t increase, perhaps as much as the fact that it’s a single speed transmission with no real crescendo built into the speed side.

It’s fun rather than exciting, it can be faster, but the emotions seem slower. As for what all this does to the battery, run close to the circuit, expect a range of 50 miles.

Eighty miles is about as much as you usually want on a gas 695 on the highway before it gets a little uncomfortable. Not so in the 500e, which, like the best hot hatches, does its best work on back roads.

It’s a lovely car to tackle a series of corners, easy to set up and precise with its handling and a good level of driver involvement in the chassis. Ride quality and comfort is a big improvement over the 695, with the bumps and vibrations of the old replaced by firmness but refinement now, even in our test car’s large 18-inch alloys.

It’s a well-calculated compromise between everyday comfort and driver involvement when needed, like the Volkswagen GTI model. Yes, there are stiffer and more svelte hoods, but there’s nothing about the chassis that prevents you from driving long distances in search of the road you love.

This is probably more than the transmission system itself. After a while you search for the ‘off’ button noisily as it’s so obnoxious and really annoying towards the end as you know it’s fake. To turn it off, you have to stop the car and go through a few menus on the instrument panel, but do so and you’ll be rewarded with peace and quiet, at least. However, what remains can be the electric drive of almost any car: it is fast and instantly responsive, but so is the Skoda Enyaq. Not even the funniest cars can beat this powertrain engagement challenge.