Is this the first proper electric hot hatch? It really does seem that way, as the all-electric Abarth 500e is revealed to the world. Gone is the parping 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, in are a 42kW and 155PS (114kW) e-motor.
A lot of the appeal of the old Abarth however, was in its style. Does the new car carry on that legacy? Well it's certainly an Abarth – with the script and badge emblazoned across the front. The honeycomb-punched vents down below are sporty, as is the metallic effect splitter element and diffuser. All that said, it doesn’t give off as aggressive an attitude of the old Abarth, which was a key part of that car’s appeal.
On the inside, there are plenty of reminders that this is the sporty one. The Scorpion on the wheel and in the dials, and the Abarth script in the infotainment are dead giveaways, as are the steering wheel’s Alcantara appointment and centre stripe. The Alcantara embossed dash matches the design on the sportier seats, too.
It’s claimed this 500e is “more Abarth than ever”, which is a tall claim. So what about performance? Given the potential of electric power, the Abarth sports some shall we say, modest figures, more in keeping with its predecessor. That 155PS (114kW) and 235Nm (173lb ft) makes for a seven-second 0-62mph time.
Abarth is quick to emphasise the deployment of the 500e’s performance is more effective than that of the petrol giving it more overtaking potential. The point is to be exciting and fast in the conditions where you can really have fun. How much of a Lotus Evija’s 2,000PS can you deploy at one time, and how much of that upper number actually adds fun rather than fear?
Three driving modes dictate the character of the Abarth 500e. Turismo is your ‘normal’ mode, limiting power and torque and increasing range. Scorpion Street gives you extra power but maintains one-pedal driving options as well as regen in general. Scorpion Track mode gives maximum performance. Exact changes to suspension and chassis setup haven’t been stated, though we expect some refinements to mark it out from the standard 500e.
There are even synthesised sporty sounds, from the Sound Generator, which plays guitar sounds on startup and reproduces Abarth engine sounds for an "unmistakable roar". That sound carries on through to an enhanced mandated Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS), which is that hum electric cars now make by law.
Abarth’s launch version for the 500e is called the Scorpionissima and features an upgraded sound system, larger 18-inch wheels, Abarth graphics and that lurid acid green paint. Just 1,949 cars in this series are to be produced, a reference to the year the company was founded.
Given the outgoing cars’ flamboyant specs – at one point a version was equipped with a dog ring gearbox – were very Abarth, we look forward to verifying.