Abarth, the performance arm of Fiat, has unveiled its first electric model – the 500e hatch and cabriolet – after it was leaked last month.

    It’s due here late in 2023, following the local launch of the related Fiat 500e early next year. That’s a much shorter delay than the Fiat is experiencing, having first launched in Europe in 2020.

    Abarth says the 500e provides more performance than the petrol 695, with improved responsiveness in city driving that sees it go from 19 to 40 km/h 50 per cent faster thanks to “improved weight distribution, better torque, and a wider wheelbase.”

    Under the bonnet is a permanent magnet electric motor that provides 114kW of power and 235Nm of torque and takes the car from 0 to 100 km/h in seven seconds.

    The motor is paired with the same 42kWh lithium-ion battery as the Fiat 500e on which it is based.

    It supports DC fast-charging at up to 85kW, giving the Abarth 25 miles of charge in five minutes. The 500e reaches the 80 per cent mark in 35 minutes.

    The low-speed acoustic alert has a distinctive sound, while a “strumming guitar” sound plays when you first exceed 19km/h.

    In the absence of the rorty engine note of one of its petrol engines, Abarth has developed an optional Sound Generator which “faithfully reproduces the sound of an Abarth petrol engine” including its own distinctive, petrol car-like low-speed acoustic alert sound.

    Three driving modes are available: Turismo, which dials outputs back slightly to 113kW and 220Nm; Scorpion Street, which balances power and energy efficiency; and top-performance mode Scorpion Track.

    Both Turismo and Scorpion Street utilise the one-pedal driving feature, which allows drivers to decelerate by lifting their foot and simultaneously recovers kinetic energy to recharge the battery.

    While the Abarth, like the Fiat 500e it’s based on, closely resembles its older petrol counterpart, it features some distinctive design elements like a closed-off grille, honeycomb air intake, and a new Acid Green hero colour.

    The new model also features the brand’s new lateral scorpion logo, Titanium Grey mirror caps, LED headlights, and dark grey Abarth lettering front and rear.

    Inside there are sports seats, as expected for an Abarth, as well as a 10.25-inch touchscreen with built-in navigation and a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, plus leather upholstery with Alcantara detailing.

    The new model is being celebrated in Europe with a special edition 500e Scorpionissima, which is limited to 1949 units – a nod to the founding year of the brand.

    The limited edition has a slightly more racing-inspired look with steel pedals, an engraved kick plate, exclusive side stickers, 18-inch diamond-cut Titanium Grey alloy wheels, and a three-spoke leather steering wheel.

    Deliveries of the Abarth 500e are expected to begin in Europe in the second quarter of 2023, and a one-month pre-booking phase has opened for ‘Abarth community members only’ before opening to the general public.

    Last year, Abarth announced that it will be electric-only by 2024, which is six years ahead of Fiat’s 2030 target.

    “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. So, from that point of view, let’s say that nothing has changed: better acceleration, better handling, more fun. And then there’s Abarth’s legendary signature: it’s sound,” said Fiat and Abarth CEO Olivier Francois.

    Eilidh McNaughton
    Eilidh McNaughton is a Contributor at CarExpert.
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