Say buongiorno to the New Abarth 500e, a high-performance pocket rocket from Fiat’s sport sister brand that is intended to offer “pure, distilled and hardcore fun”.
The new machine is the first electric model to come from the long-running brand, and is an extensively reworked version of the existing Fiat 500e, with an upgraded powertrain and styling upgrades. The Mini Electric rival will be offered alongside the Abarth 595 and 695, which are similarly reworked versions of the petrol-engined Fiat 500.
Fiat and Abarth boss Olivier Francois said that the new model is “one of the most exciting launches in the history of the brand” – which is a pretty big claim given that Abarth was founded back in 1949.
Responding to question about why Abarth was going electric, Francois added: “Performance made us do it,” adding that the model offered “better acceleration, better handling, more fun”.
Sounds intriguing. How sporty is this New Abarth 500e then?
The New Abarth 500e (yes, the ‘new’ is officially part of the car’s title) is powered by a 113kW and 173lb ft motor, up from the 88kW and 162lb ft offered by the Fiat version. That seems positively tame compared to many performance EVs, but then the Abarth 500e is a lot smaller and has a focus on city fun. Besides, that power still enabled the car to sprint from 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds, a full 2.0secs faster than the Fiat. The firm also claims the new motor is “more responsive”.
Abarth says that the motor has been optimised for maximum response in city driving, noting that it is one second faster from 12 to 25mph that the top-sped Abarth 695. The EV can also sprint from 25mph to 38mph in just 1.5 seconds, more than a second faster than its fossil-fuelled sibling.
The New Abarth 500e retains the Fiat 500e’s 42kWh battery. The firm hasn’t given an official range figure yet, but with the extra power it is likely to be slightly less than the 143 miles of the Fiat, in part because it doesn’t offer the same range-extending Sherpa mode (we’ll get into the Abarth’s drive modes in a bit). The battery can be fast-charged at speeds of up to 85kW, which offers an 80 per cent charge in 35 minutes.
Right, those drive modes then: the Abarth will offer three: Turismo, Scorpion Street and Scorpion Track. In Turismo mode, the power will be limited to 100kW and the acceleration smoothed out to make the driving experience more efficient. Scorpion Street gives access to all the power, but also offers maximum regenerative braking – Abarth claims one-pedal driving is possible in both of the standard drive modes.
Stick the car into Scorpion Track mode and you get maximum performance, but at the inevitable expense of some of the efficiency.
Has anything else been done to boost performance?
The New Abarth 500e also features a longer wheelbase and widened track widths, designed to offer greater stability and better handling and dynamic balance. The firm claims it can achieve a “quicker response, better corner entry, and a higher cornering and exit speed” than the Fiat version.
Well, since you mention sound... Abarth says that because noise is so important to the heritage of the brand it has created an “immersive sound experience” so that fans of the brand can go electric without giving up “the famous and unmistakable Abarth roar”.
What does that mean? Well, when you turn the car on or off it creates a guitar noise inside the cockpit, while the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS) that is required at low speeds to alert other road users to your presence will feature a special ‘jingle’. Abarth given specific yet, but given the Fiat 500 played Nino Rota’s Amarcord we’re intrigued.
And there’s more: the first time you exceed 12.5mph a strumming guitar note will play, and there’s also the option of a built-in Sound Generator that can recreate the Abarth ‘roar’ should you so desire (and yes, you can turn the noises off if you want).
What about the styling?
The new Abarth looks like a regular Fiat 500e that has gulped down an excessive amounts of protein shakes. It’s putting on its big angry face, but it’s so cute it’s still hard not to like it.
The major changes include a new front bumper, side skirts, rear diffuser inserts, special alloy wheels and grey mirror caps. There’s also LED front lights, front and rear disc brakes and a host of other sporty design details.
As with the Fiat 500e, the new machine will be offered in both hatchback and cabriolet forms. While the hatchback gains rear privacy glass, the fro-top festered an integrated spoiler.
The other big change is a reworked version of Abarth’s scorpion logo, which is given more prominent placement on the car, apparently in a bid to tell you the machine “means business”.
What will it cost and when can I buy one?
Deliveries are expected to start in early 2023, and while pricing hasn’t been confirmed we’d expected a starting point or around £35,000. Notably, Abarth says the new model will only be offered online. The machine is now available to pre-book, although for the first month that will be exclusive to members of the Abarth community.
Abarth insists its community of more than 160,000 fans – which it calls Abarthists – helped shape the design and features of the car through a ‘performance creators’ initiative.
At launch the New Abarth 500e will be offered in a special launch edition that is rather brilliantly called the Scorpionissima. It will be available as both a hatchback and convertible and in a choice of acid green or poison blue paint.
The Scorpionissima also features special 18in alloys, steel pedals and a special kick play, a bespoke ring around the dashboard and special door sills. The sports seats also feature Alcantara trim, and that material is also splashed over the dashboard. The steering wheel gets both leather and Alcantara trim.
The special edition also includes heated front seats, automatic windscreen wipers, keyless entry, climate control, a 360-degree camera and a range of driver assistance systems. It also features a 10.25in infotainment touchscreen with bespoke Abarth graphics and a special Performance Pages feature, a range of driver assistance systems and and the Sound Generator as standard.
What’s next for Abarth?
The New Abarth 500e was revealed at the same time as the firm launched the Abarth Pulse, a petrol-powered performance crossover that will initially only be offered in Brazil - signalling the brand’s entry into the South American country.
Abarth says that the new 500e “completes” its line-up in Europe alongside the 595 and 695, although it is understood that the firm will offer performance versions of most electric Fiat models going forward.
That could include a hot version of the anticipated forthcoming Panda revival, a compact crossover based on the Centoventi concept first shown in 2019.
Both Fiat and Abarth could be aided in expanding their model line-ups in the future by access to shared platforms from within the Stellantis group, which also includes brands such as Peugeot, Vauxhall and Alfa Romeo.