New Abarth 500e electric hot hatch revealed in full

The hot version of Fiat’s electric city car does 0-62mph in seven seconds, and will be offered as a hatchback and convertible

Abarth 500e

Abarth’s souped-up versions of the Fiat 500 city car have been part of hot hatch lore since the 1960s, but now the performance brand has swapped petrol for electric power to create the new Abarth 500e, available as a hatchback or Cabrio convertible from the end of this year.

In traditional hot-hatch style, the Abarth 500e is front-wheel drive only, but its single electric motor produces 152bhp and 235Nm of torque, compared to the regular Fiat 500’s 116bhp. The result is a 0-62mph time of seven seconds dead, compared to nine seconds in the Fiat.

The Abarth 500e uses the same 42kWh battery as the Fiat 500, but while the Fiat offers up to 199 miles of range, the electric hot hatch can only cover 155 miles on a charge.

There's a new set of drive modes for the Abarth called Turismo, Scorpion Street and Scorpion Track. The first is the equivalent to eco mode, restricting the performance of the electric motor to 132bhp and 230Nm, while Scorpion Track is for when you want full power and less regenerative braking. One-pedal driving is still available in the Abarth 500e, but only in Turismo and Scorpion Street modes.

Abarth has turned up the wick on the city car’s styling, too, adding a more aggressive front bumper, side skirts and a rear diffuser, plus a new alloy wheel design. Every model features LED lights and a revised version of the brand’s iconic ‘scorpion’ logo. The convertible version also gets an integrated spoiler in its fabric roof.

Inside, there’s a new three-spoke steering wheel, sports seats and leather upholstery with Alcantara trim. You get the same seven-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch touchscreen as the electric Fiat 500, but Abarth has added ‘performance pages’ for displaying more detailed driving data.

The sound of Abarth’s hot hatches is part of their identity, so in the absence of any exhaust note, the Abarth 500e features a sound generator that the maker says is capable of “faithfully reproducing the sound of an Abarth petrol engine”. Owners can switch the synthesised ‘roar’ off when stationary, replacing it with the strum of a guitar that plays when the car is switched on or off.

Abarth claims that the electric 500’s bespoke platform – which to date hasn’t been used by any other EV – gives the model a wider track, longer wheelbase and better weight distribution than the old petrol-powered Abarth 695. The 500e is also a full second faster around the Balocco test track than its combustion-engined predecessor, according to Abarth, thanks to those chassis gains and punchier acceleration.

The Abarth's 85kW maximum charging rate is enough to add around 30 miles of range in five minutes, and a 10-80% top-up in 35 minutes from a suitably fast rapid charger. Alternatively, it’ll take around six hours to fully replenish the 42kWh battery using a typical 7.4kW wallbox at home.

The limited edition Abarth 500e Scorpionissima will be the first version to go on sale, and comes with all the bells and whistles. Just 1949 examples will be made, but it's offered in both hatchback and Cabrio form, with a choice of Acid Green or Poison Blue paint. Members of Abarth enthusiasts clubs have an exclusive one-month pre-ordering window, before order books open to all at the end of the year. UK pricing hasn't been revealed yet, but we’d expected a starting price of around £33,000 to £35,000 for the Abarth 500e. 

It appears 2023 is already shaping up to be the year of the electric hot hatch. Along with the Abarth 500e, the Volkswagen ID.3 GTX is due to arrive within the next 12 months, as is a spicier version of the Cupra Born we saw undergoing testing in September. MG has also confirmed it’s introducing a 443bhp dual-motor MG4 in 2023.

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