Abarth 500e Electric Hot Hatch Revealed

The new Abarth 500e heralds a new electric era for the sporty Italian marque, but is it a true hot hatch? Here’s all the details…

Abarth has long been the provider of feistier versions of Fiat’s more sensible offerings, but like everyone else, it’s now got to figure out how to cram all that sportiness into electric powertrains too.

Its first attempt is this – the Abarth 500e. On paper, the Fiat 500 that it’s based upon does seem like the right platform for EV power to shine. Its pint-size dimensions ensure that the basic Fiat is relatively light – 1365kg to be precise – and although we don’t have the exact figure for this Abarth version yet, that should mean it’ll be in good shape to make use of the instant acceleration that comes with battery power.

A side profile of the new Abarth 500e.

To be precise, that battery power equates to around 152bhp and 173 lb ft of torque. Admittedly, those are hardly groundbreaking numbers these days, but they still represent a 34bhp and 11lb ft increase over the regular electric Fiat 500e. Performance-wise, you’re looking at a 0-62mph time of around 7 seconds (2 seconds quicker than the regular Fiat).

Dynamically. The Abarth 500e promises to be quite rewarding too. There’s uprated suspension to cope with car’s bigger 18-inch alloys, as well as disc brakes all-round instead of drums at the rear. Plus, the EV architecture provides the 500e with a wider track and lower centre of gravity compared to its petrol-powered predecessor. With any luck, that should hopefully translate into a bit more poise.

A rear-quarter shot of the car at night.

Mind you, if you’re concerned about range, you probably won’t want to push the Abarth to its performance limits all that much. The official range figures haven’t yet been provided, however the common or garden Fiat 500e is rated at about 130 miles (in combined driving scenarios). If we assume that the Abarth’s range will be slightly less than that, a heavy right foot could soon drop its expected range to something nearer 100 miles.

Happily, it’s fairly quick to charge back up again. When making use of its maximum 85kW charge rate, you’ll get 25 miles of range back in just five minutes, while 80% of the battery’s power can be regained in 35. Besides, long distances are not what this car’s about. It’s a supermini designed to dwell in urban areas and be used in short bursts, not travel halfway across the country. For that, its ballpark range expectations are ample.

The Abarth's interior is similar to that of the Fiat 500e.

Then there’s the issue of noise. Plenty of enthusiastic drivers still want their performance cars to SOUND like performance cars, which gives EVs an inherent problem to overcome. Abarth’s way of getting around this is by pumping in the burbly tones of engines from the past, though the lack of authenticity may prove to be just as jarring for sports car purists.

So, to answer the question we asked right at the top: is this a proper hot hatch? Well, upon first impressions… yes. Sure, it won’t rival bigger C-Segment hot hatches for pace, but it is undeniably a more potent, more visually engaging incarnation of the regular 500e that promises to be a good laugh when scything through city streets.

A close-up of the car's wheel rim design.

As far as electric cars go, there isn’t really anything else on the market like it. Though, if you aren’t fussed about going green, it’s fair to say that petrol-powered cars like the Hyundai i20N or Ford Fiesta ST still represent a more enticing prospect from a driver’s point of view (while you can still get them, that is).

Pricing is yet to be announced, but if you do fancy getting one of these Abarths, expect it to cost you from around £35,000 upwards. UK deliveries are intended for June 2023.

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2022 Lamborghini Countach recalled because rear glass may detach

Even exotic supercars are occasionally subject to recalls. Lamborghini just issued one for every 2022 Countach LPI 800-4 delivered in the U.S. so far. The recall affects nine cars.

The new Countach is being recalled because of rear glass panels that may detach from the car, according to the NHTSA. Lamborghini blames a supplier error, saying in a recall report that the supplier didn’t correctly bond the glass panels to the engine covers of affected cars.

Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4

Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4

The incorrectly-bonded panels could detach from the car while driving, creating a potential road hazard, Lamborghini noted in the report. The automaker first became aware of this problem in October after receiving a report from a dealership in Qatar about a problem with one of the four glass panels on the Countach’s engine cover. Lamborghini isn’t aware of any issues with cars in other markets, however.

Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the glass free of charge. Lamborghini plans to begin mailing letters to owners notifying them of the recall by Jan. 13, 2023.

Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4

Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4

Unveiled during 2021 Monterey Car Week, the Countach LPI 800-4 was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Countach’s debut. Its styling is a modern interpretation of the iconic wedge-shaped original Countach, but the LPI 800-4 is based on the outgoing Lamborghini Aventador, and features a hybrid powertrain producing 803 hp.

While it’s just one of several Aventador-based special editions to launch ahead of that model’s replacement, and isn’t any quicker from 0-62 mph than the non-hybrid Aventador Ultimae coupe, the Countach LPI 800-4 had no trouble finding buyers. The entire 112-unit production run reportedly sold out shortly after the car’s reveal despite a price tag estimated to be well within the seven-figure range. Lamborghini began delivering cars earlier this year.

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Driving Guide: How To Get The Best From Your Build

So, you’ve got your car properly set-up and you’re ready to go. Now find out how to get the best out of it with this handy driving guide.

Driving Guide: Car & Road Types

Before you set out, it’s worth considering what type of car you’ve got. The size, engine layout, drivetrain and many other factors will affect its handling and, naturally, certain cars will be better suited to certain roads. Whether you own a 150bhp FWD Golf or 300bhp RWD BMW, follow our driving guide to find out where your vehicle will feel most at home.

A Ford Focus RS driving on a rural road.

Twisty B-Roads

A small, light car is well suited to B-roads, as with power and top speed being of little consideration, it’s all about the car being nimble and responsive. Due to power not being as important, what wheels are powered is also less important, so front, rear, or 4WD are all perfectly suitable. The emphasis here should instead be on rapid response with zero lag, and close gearing to keep turbo cars in the powerband on tight corners.

A Nissan GT-R driving on an open road.

Fast A-Roads

Once away from single track roads and onto the fast but winding A-roads this country is full of, there is a little less emphasis on instant response and nimbleness, and a lot more on grip, acceleration and braking. These attributes will all enable you to keep a higher average speed. Tuned 4WD rally-bred cars and some of the larger engined turbocharged hot hatches are ideal for this scenario, as they are able to accelerate hard on the straights while still giving great grip in the sweeping corners.

Rear drag shot of twin-turbo Ford Mustang at Santa Pod

High-Speed Runs

Although you won’t be turning tight corners during the majority of high-speed runs, any corners you do encounter will be taken at rather high velocities. So, not only do you need a car that can take sustained full throttle action for long periods of time, but one that is also designed to be sure footed and stable at high speeds with good aerodynamics. Best left for the track or airfield!

All-wheel drive Audi vehicles have a tendency to understeer.

Driving Guide: Driving Styles

Understeer & Oversteer

Contrary to popular belief, front-wheel drive cars don’t just understeer, and rear-wheel drive cars don’t just oversteer. If set up in a particular way, any car can behave in either of those ways. Most standard RWD cars are set to understeer unless provoked, and conversely more and more hot FWD cars are quite easy to oversteer rather than the expected understeer. The behaviour of standard 4WD cars varies a lot, with the majority biased towards understeering, especially Audis and Subarus, but some have a tendency to oversteer such as Skyline GT-Rs and Mitsubishi Evos for example.

If you feel your car has too much under or oversteer, you can adjust that in a number of ways: from simple tyre changes, to fitting fully adjustable suspension.

TOYOTA COROLLA AE86

Drifting

The simple rules for a good drift car are as follows – engine in the front and rear-wheel drive. Although you can drift mid-engine and 4WD cars, and oversteer FWD cars, for drifting in the true sense of the word a front-engine rear-drive car is the only sensible option. Pretty much any front-engine rear-drive car can be made to drift, but as ever, some cars are more suited than others. S-Chassis Nissans are a very common choice as they have a good blend of power, handling, and are lightweight straight from the factory, but the choice really is yours.

An EP3 Civic on the drag strip.

Drag Racing

A big power 4WD vehicle will make for a competent street-legal drag car, able to swap between the road and strip with relative ease. FWD and RWD cars are also able to produce some blistering times, even in road legal form, but usually require more of a compromise to their overall road usability to produce the same times as a 4WD, mostly due to less grip on road tyres with two less driven wheels. Mid-engined RWD cars are generally good for drag racing due to the extra weight over the driven wheels, but in general finding a car with relative light weight, good power potential, and a lot of room for wide and sticky tyres are your main concerns.

A Vauxhall Astra VXR driving on a track.

Track Day (Grip)

Although track day cars are the most varied of all these disciplines and you can have great fun in almost anything, it’s worth considering your skill level. A FWD car will naturally understeer and be easier for a novice to get to grips with. A RWD car will oversteer and should be treated with respect until you understand the feel of it. For many, a great handling 4WD car like an Impreza or Evo is the natural choice as both have very high levels of grip. Just bear in mind that when you find the limit in a 4WD car, there’s little chance of saving it!

A Renault Megane taking a corner at pace.

Driving Guide: Top 3 Handling Mods

1. COILOVERS
Most stock cars are too comfort orientated, and though usually fine at standard power/speed, even a remap on a turbocharged car can increase performance so much that the stock suspension can’t keep up with the speed the car now rips up the road. With so much more adjustability and prices being so much lower than in the past, we would recommend going straight to coilovers when looking at uprating your suspension.

2. TYRES
Tyres are your car’s sole connection with the tarmac, and therefore have the biggest influence on your car’s all round performance. Quality should not be skimped on, go for the biggest and the best you can afford.

3. ANTIROLL BARS
With uprated ARBs fitted you are no longer reliant on setting your coilovers to extra hard to reduce your car’s body roll, meaning you can soften them up and then adjust the front and rear to suit your chosen under or oversteer characteristics.

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