The 500e is the most engaging Abarth ever made, the brand says
Italian brand brings power hike and handling focus for long-awaited performance EV; on sale June 2023
Italian sporting brand Abarth has made its first step into the EV era with a performance variant of the Fiat 500 Electric, which it claims to be the most engaging, responsive and dynamic model it has ever created.
Fitted with a host of technical upgrades, including a more responsive motor, the Abarth 500e sends 152bhp and 173lb ft – increases of 35bhp and 11lb ft over the Fiat – to the front wheels, and draws power from the same 42kWh battery as the car on which it’s based.
This extra kick only gives the hot hatch a 7.0sec 0-62mph time, 2.0sec faster than its sibling – and only slightly slower than the petrol-powered 180bhp Abarth 695 (6.7sec).
But Abarth says blistering standing acceleration – a hallmark of electric cars – was not the outright aim, instead opting for better mid-range power: the new EV hot hatch gets from 12-25mph in just one second and from 25mph-35mph in under 1.5sec (compared with the 695’s 2.5sec).
With a wheelbase 24mm longer and track 60mm wider than the Fiat, coupled with a lower centre of gravity afforded by the under-floor battery, the 500e also promises improved handling over its petrol sibling, with a boost in turn-in response and higher corner exit speeds.
Another highlight will be its artificial petrol engine-aping soundtrack, Abarth claims. The firm says “sound has always been important” to the brand as a “distinctive” characteristic. The feature, which is equipped as standard, can be switched off for silent running.
Olivier François, CEO of both Fiat and Abarth, said: “The new Abarth 500e is one of the most exciting launches in the history of the brand: a great new addition to the Abarth line-up. I like to think of it as family, so our fanbase will be involved in every step of our electrification journey.”
He added: “You may ask ’why electric?’. Well, basically, performance made us do it: in fact, every change made in the Abarth is about getting the best driving performance. That’s exactly how our founder, Carlo Abarth, always went at it.”
As with other Abarth models, the 500e is marked out from its standard Fiat sibling by a dramatic performance-themed design overhaul, bringing a wider, squared front end (which is adorned by the brand’s name), lower side skirts and a subtle rear lip.
Inside, the car is near-identical to the Fiat, with standard kit including a 7.0in instrument screen, rear-view camera and 10.25in infotainment touchscreen. Top-of-the-range models get Alcantara-clad sports seats, and JBL speaker system.
The Abarth 500e – which will be available in either hatchback or cabrio variants, like the 695 – is expected to get marginally less range from the 42kWh battery than its Fiat sibling (143 miles) due to the higher state of tune of its motors – and lack of any range-extending ‘Sherpa’ mode, as fitted to the Fiat 500 Electric. However, it will match that car’s 85kW fast-charging speed, meaning it can be topped up from empty to 80% in 35 minutes.
Pricing, not confirmed at the time of writing, is likely to start above £35,000, given the Fiat’s £30,646 base price.
Deliveries will begin in June next year, starting with the Scorpionissima launch edition, which comes with exclusive Acid Green or Poison Blue paint, 18in alloys, a glass roof, and steel pedals.
Abarth has essentially been a one-car brand since its hot take on the Mazda MX-5-based Fiat 124 Spider bowed out in 2019. It has yet to put an end date on production of the petrol-powered 695, with parent company Fiat keeping the equivalent 500 on sale alongside its electric sibling for the foreseeable future.
Details of which future Fiat models will get the Abarth treatment are still to come, but likely candidates include a Punto-sized Fiat supermini – inspired by 2019’s Centoventi concept – due in 2023 to rival the Vauxhall Corsa Electric, and an electric successor to the Fiat Panda, which was confirmed last year by François but its arrival date has not yet been disclosed.