The Fiat 500e, but not yet the Abarth 500e, is just being launched in NZ. I got an email invite from Andrew Sims who had the 500e press preview car for test drives today (Sat Feb 11) & tomorrow prior to the Autumn public release. Decided not to waste their (limited) time booking one—as I won't be buying—but was curious to see the 500e in the metal.
I typically go for a bike ride on Sunday but with Cyclone Gabrielle approaching, forecast arrival Sunday evening through to Tuesday, Saturday was a better bet.
The morning was dedicated to my usual orchard, vege, butcher and supermarket shop. With everyone in 'pre-cyclone mode', and advised to have a few days supplies in hand, the shops were crazy busy and Margan Ave (Fruitworld, Aussie Butcher etc) was packed.
The carpark was gridlocked with vehicles (lots of utes and SUVs) waiting/manoeuvring to park so I didn't even bother trying. There were a few vehicles already on the wide grass verge outside, as it was firm, so parked the Abarth there. Besides a light car, with wide for its size tyres, was no problem and I was in and out before some had even found a park...
On my bike...
As I left home, about 1pm, there was already a bit of Easterly headwind so took a more direct sheltered cross-country route to Newmarket via New Lynn, Mt Roskill (Oakley Creek) bike paths and Dominion Road.
There was some encouragement chalked on the SH20 overbridge, a legacy of the morning park run...
Love this path through a restored, formlery overgrown and rubbish strewn, creek that has turned a hazardous eyesore into a community and ecological asset.
The electron powered Italians... full electric and hybrid
I've cycled to Newmarket for decades to look at new cars. Just as I got to Andrew Sims, I saw the 500e head off on a test drive. I knew, from the invite, it was max. 30 minutes before it would be back. Time for a circuit of the other nearby yards to see what else new was around.
An Alfa Hybrid...
Wingers Maserati and Alfa Romeo had their usual stock—Maserati MC20, Ghibli, Quattroporte, Levante and Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio—but also the new Alfa Romeo Tonale Hybrid.
Left to right: Alfa Romeo Tonale (hybrid) from $59,990, Maserati Levante from $157,000, Alfa Romeo Stelvio from $99,990.
I thought the production Tonale looked underwhelming in photos, even dated compared to the sleek three-door concept car which previewed it (below) and set expectations high.
Both the TI and Veloce are five-door and look much better in the metal, even in white, with some nice detailing front and rear. They have the same 1.5 Litre 118kW engine, additional 15kW 48-volt hybrid electric motor, 0.8 kWH battery and 7-Speed Dual Clutch Automatic Transmission.
Ferrari plug-in hybrid
Continental Cars Ferrari also had a plug-in hybrid. A 2021 SF90 with 3,900km on the odometer, asking $909,990 if you're interested...
The Fiat 500e
The Fiat 500e is just being launched in NZ and this is one of the preview cars. It's an all-new full electric platform; nothing in common with the existing ICE 500 (or Abarth). Although the style is similar the proportions and lines are quite different. Somehow it seems both 'chunkier' and sleeker, more so with a giant Dodge RAM looming in the background!
There are two trim levels: the $59,990 'POP' or $64,990 'ICON'. Both share the same 87 kW 220 Nm Electric Motor, 42.0 kWh battery (320km WLTP claimed range), 80% charge in 35 mins, 0-100 km/h in 9 sec and Level 2 autonomous driving. There is no sign of the cheaper 70 KW 24.0 kWh battery model offered in Britain.
The POP is already comprehensively equipped (see details here) with the ICON adding 17" wheels (instead of 16"), 'eco-leather' interior trim seen below (instead of cloth), sunroof, LED headlights (with auto high beam) and even more driving aids (360° parking sensors, Blind Spot Monitor, iACC w/ Lane Centering & Traffic Jam Assist).
There are some lovely details; 500e badging and the headlight 'eyebrows'.
A tidy rear, no need to port exhaust pipes through the diffuser!
No front storage, under the short bonnet is packed with electronics and drivetrain.
One of the demo staff recognised me, we had a bit of fun getting replacement Abarth rear struts during the COVID shipping chaos, and said... "Probably a bit quiet for you"...
I like the design but the ~$50,000 difference between AHBART's likely trade-in value buys a lot of fuel, even at ~$3.00/litre! They had a selection of new Abarth on display but I noticed all were the semi-automatic. Think I'll stick with my old manual AHBART.
A rapid ride home...
From Newmarket I rode towards St Heliers via Orakei Basin.
I have put on a few kilograms compared to this time last year but not yet approaching the maximum weight for the Meadowbank shared bike path...
Glover Park had the strange juxtaposition of normal summer cricket in the park and people filling sandbags for the impending storm...
By the time I got to Archilles Point it was apparent Cyclone Gabrielle was on the way. Although still more than a day away the 30-40km/h Easterly wind made the ride home fun.
I flew around the waterfront, damage from last week's record rain still apparent. Was surprised how many slips there were between Kohimarama and Ngapipi Road. I thought there was only a couple but saw many more on the exposed cliff faces.
I took the SH16 Northwestern Cycleway to the Central Park Drive turnoff between Te Atatu and Lincoln. It was easy to maintain 30km/h+, a rare pleasure compared to the prevailing Westerly headwind.