A 500 with pumped up muscles, Abarth has been breathing its performance magic on Fiat’s hugely popular city car for nearly 15 years. With turbocharged petrol engines pumping out up to 187bhp in standard form, 500 Abarths have gained a cult following for being nippy, fun and distinctive hot hatches.
Now, Abarth – itself a sub-brand in its own right – is launching its first electric 500. Called the Abarth 500e, the brand is highlighting the benefits of an electric powertrain alongside better balance and enhanced handling as trade-offs for reduced top-end power. Whether it can continue the following that the petrol cars have gained remains to be seen, but Abarth is certainly aiming to do so.
Abarth makes no secret that it has targeted the 500e’s performance to be strongest in urban and suburban driving, meaning punchy low-down acceleration and rapid ‘in gear’ sprints. Outright power isn’t massive at 152bhp and 173lb-ft of torque, but it’s still no slouch hitting 62mph in seven seconds dead – faster than bog standard petrol Abarth 500s, but slower than the more focussed ones such as the 695 Biposto.
However, in on-the-move sprints, compared to the Abarth 695 the 500e is one second faster between 12 and 25mph and can dispatch 25-37mph in just 1.5 seconds. Between 37mph and 62mph – perfect overtaking speed – the 500e is again one second faster. It’s possible to dial back the power by putting the car in ‘Turismo’ mode, reducing things to 134bhp, whilst ‘Scorpion Street Mode’ offers max power and more intense regenerative braking. For those who care about such things, the Abarth 500e is the first city car to gain a sound generator which reproduces the so-called Abarth ‘roar’, though we’d probably turn it off…
A relatively small 42kWh battery can be charged at up to 85kW, reaching 80 per cent in 35 minutes. Range hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Abarth has applied its beefed up, chunky styling to the 500e. There’s a new, dedicated sporty front bumper with cheek intakes akin to those on the petrol-powered cars. A low-level, diffuser entry is highlighted in white paint, whilst the blanked off grille now simply houses the name ‘Abarth’.
Alloy wheels have been specially designed for the 500e, with Scorpionissima launch edition wheels being 18 inch diamond-cut, titanium grey wheels. Mirror caps are also titanium grey, providing a distinctive contrast along the car’s profile. On the coupe, there’s an integrated, high-level spoiler to aid aero performance, whilst a cabrio version will also get a specially designed, integrated spoiler.
Finally, for detail fanatics, the Abarth scorpion logo has been tweaked to reflect the brand’s new EV era.
Abarth is doing a limited run of 1949 Scorpionissima launch edition cars which will be fully loaded with tech and equipment. Perhaps the most eye-catching element is the Acid Green or Poison Blue paintwork and side graphics. Sporty touches include steel pedals and an engraved kick plate, steel door sills with Abarth lettering relief and a titanium grey dashboard ring.
Sports seats welcome the driver and passenger up front and are clad in Alcantara complete with Abarth logos. The dashboard fascia is similarly clad in the material, albeit with a part-leather steering wheel. In terms of tech, as standard the 500e gets Uconnect tech delivered through the 10.25 inch touchscreen with integrated navigation as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Performance Pages are a new feature which enables drivers to track the car’s performance as they drive. Various functions can be controlled via the Fiat app.
Other convenience features include auto lights and wipers, wireless entry and go, auto climate control and auto high/low beams, plus a wireless phone charger. All-round cameras enable a 360-degree drone view as well as parking aid, whilst a JBL sound system provides the tunes. Driving aids include traffic sign information, autonomous emergency brake, intelligent speed assist, lane keep assist, drowsy driver detection, attention assist, cruise, blind spot warning and emergency call functionality.
Abarth will be selling the 500e via a completely online buying process which is already available for those who want a Scorpionissima launch model. Down the line, cars will make it to showrooms, however. We don’t know the pricing just yet, but given the equivalent Fiat 500e costs just under £35k, we’d imagine that’s a starting point.
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