It plays angry guitar noises when you drive fast.
Abarth is entering an all-new era with the introduction of the Abarth 500e. We can't say we're shocked by the announcement, following a few teasers and an apathetic Italian film crew who exposed the entire car a full week before its official launch. At least Abarth managed to keep one secret - you can also have it as a drop-top.
The news is both good and bad. We'll start with the good first. Thanks to the all-new 500e's electric architecture, the Abarth has a longer wheelbase, better weight distribution, and an improved torque delivery compared to the ICE models we know and love. According to Abarth, it's "faster and more exciting in both urban and suburban driving."
Abarth claims a 0-62 mph time of seven seconds flat, but it's bound to feel faster. EVs almost always feel faster than their claimed figures suggest, purely because of that instant torque delivery.
Because most people will likely use the Abarth 500e in the city, the Italian manufacturer provided more useful acceleration figures. It's 50% faster from 12 mph to 25 mph than the Abarth 695 with a turbocharged gas engine. It can get from 25 mph to 37 mph in 1.5 seconds, a full second faster than its ICE brother. From 37 mph to 62 mph, it's a second faster.
Around Stellantis' famous Balocco test track, the 500e beats the 695 by over a second. According to Abarth, the main reason is the 500e's ability to enter and exit a corner at a higher speed, most likely due to the extremely low center of gravity.
The claimed power figure is 152 horsepower and 173 lb-ft of torque, a nice increase over the standard Fiat 500e's 117 hp and 162 lb-ft. As we predicted, the Abarth has a larger 42 kWh battery. No range claims are available, but Abarth says it can reclaim 80% of the unknown range in 35 minutes using 85 kW fast charging.
You can save some range by using the Turismo Mode. It limits the power output to 134 hp and 162 lb-ft. But if you want to save energy, why not just buy the 500e, which will debut in the USA in 2024?
We're far more interested in the Scorpion Street and Scorpion Track modes. Scorpion Street gives you full power and engages one-pedal driving. As soon as you lift off the throttle, the regenerative braking kicks in. Basically, this is a no-lift kind of car. If you lift, everyone will know.
Oddly, Abarth failed to provide more information about the Scorpion Track mode, simply saying it was designed for those looking for top performance. We suspect the electronic nannies will be dialed back a bit.
If you've had the pleasure of driving an ICE Abarth, you'll know they make a pleasing sound. It's comical to hear such a small car emit rorty exhaust noises and the telltale whistle of a turbocharged engine.
Abarth gets around the silence of the new EV in one of two ways. As standard, the car ships with an Acoustic Vehicle Alert System, which is a series of guitar sounds. All of the usual zoom-zoom noises are recreated with a guitar. The strumming guitar becomes more intense when the car goes above 12 mph. It's an exciting concept, and we can't wait to hear it in action.
If that's not your thing, you can go for the optional Sound Generator, with reproduces the sound of an Abarth gas engine. We're big believers in EVs leaning into what they do well, so the Sound Generator gets a hard pass from us.
On the outside, the Abarth 500e debuts the new modernized and electrified Scorpion logo. It also gets sportier bumpers front and rear, a rear diffuser, model-specific alloy wheels, and Titanium Grey mirror caps.
The LED headlights get their own Abarth signature, which differs from the standard Fiat LED pattern. The front and rear brakes feature Abarth lettering in Dark Titanium Grey, along with the new electrified Scorpion logo.
Standard comfort and convenience features include a 10.25-inch screen running the latest Uconnect touchscreen interface with live updates. It also displays model-specific performance pages, as we've seen on previous Stellantis performance products. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are also available. You also get a wearable key, climate control, a wireless charger, and a JBL sound system to play the angry guitar performance tunes.
To coincide with the European launch, Abarth is introducing a limited-edition 500e Scorpionissima. We can forget about getting one of those in the USA since we still have a long wait ahead for Fiat and Abarth's new models.
At the recent LA Auto Show, Fiat announced that the 500e would be sold in the USA in early 2024. The American spec is still being developed, so Fiat chose to show three one-off creations instead.
The Abarth 500e has not been confirmed for the USA, but if Fiat is brave enough to bring the tiny 500e stateside, we see no reason why Abarth can't do the same. Pricing and availability will likely be unveiled when the American-spec 500e makes its debut at the 2023 LA Auto Show next year.