The Abarth 500e Turns The Loudest Italian Hot Hatch Whisper Quiet

Abarth 500 Topshot

The Abarth 500e might just be the worst-kept secret the automotive world has seen in years. Not only had Abarth issued a litany of teasers, the full car managed to leak an entire week before its official reveal. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still reason to be interested. Judging by prior Abarth sales in America and future plans for a U.S.-spec 500e, this tiny electric hot hatch stands a chance of making it stateside. Without further ado, let’s dive into the Abarth 500e to see what makes it tick.

Abarth 500 Right Front Three Quarters

Thanks in part to a 42 kWh battery pack, the Abarth 500e puts out 155 horsepower and 173 lb.-ft. of torque. That might not sound like massive output, but the way electric vehicles put power down means that the new Abarth 500e should be quicker than the old gasoline-powered model. Abarth figures its new car can run from 25 mph to 37 mph in just a second and a half, good stuff for quickly punching out of corners. In addition, Abarth claims that the location of the battery pack results in improved weight distribution and handling.

As with the 500 Abarth of old, the Abarth 500e’s output depends on which drive mode is selected. Keep it in Turismo and you’ll only see 134 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft. of torque as opposed to full whack in either Scorpion mode. Still, base output seems like stout numbers for most A-segment cars, but that’s assuming a low curb weight. While Abarth hasn’t released the 500e’s weight, the regular Fiat 500e weighs 3,009 pounds. That’s 103 pounds more than what Honda quotes for a Civic Si, but a back-to-back scale test is likely required to offer a definitive judgment.

Abarth 500 Side

On the outside, Abarth has chosen to show off the 500e in a sort of Nuclear Kermit green that’s mildly uncomfortable to look at. It’s like it got gunged at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. However, once you either love or get past the paint and ignore the Abarth wordmark in one hundred and eleventy point font across the car’s nose, Abarth’s styling revisions seem quite agreeable. The deep front air dam and chunky side skirts do a proper job of playing up hot hatch heritage, while fresh alloy wheels adopt a directional pattern. While previous Abarth 500s featured two massive cannons on the rear bumper, this electric model uses a bit of white diffuser-look trim to break up the rear valence while coordinating with the front fascia.

All electric vehicles must come with a pedestrian warning system but Abarth has put a unique twist on its external noisemaker. When the Abarth 500e hits 12 mph, the standard eerie hum transforms into what the marque calls a “strumming guitar.” Given the boisterous demeanor of previous Abarth 500s, I’m expecting metalcore chugs that make you want to chug Monster Energy and make a wall of death. If a spot of guitar isn’t enough, Abarth will also offer the 500e with a sound generator that makes fake engine noises.

Abarth 500e Rear

While the Abarth 500e seems to offer superior objective performance to the old dino-burning 500-based Abarth models, I have my reservations on how well it will embody the spirit of old. The 500 Abarth Americans are familiar with felt like a beer can full of the world’s angriest bees. It would snort and shout and pop like a lout, goad you on into driving harder, and annoy just about every neighbor. Sure, it wasn’t the fastest hot hatch in the pack, but it made 40 mph feel like a million. Upon first glance, the new car doesn’t seem nearly as antisocial. However, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to have a go in it. After all, if the future of cars is electric, the fact that hot hatches may still exist is certainly a warm one.

All photos courtesy of Abarth

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33 Responses

  1. I always like the styling update for this model and was sad to find out we would not longer be getting this car now that it looks better. But, looks like now we will be getting it, just in electric only

  2. as an Abarth Owner, i’ve been curious how they might re-imagine such a vehicle, especially considering Fiat’s terrible foray back into the US which started with a small (500 trim level)pop and quickly faded.

    The Abarth had both attitude and a nice sort of retro appearance. it is uproariously fun, with less refinement.

    this new 500E edition looks interesting for sure, but my concerns are twofold:

    1. will improved weight distribution and handling be enough to offset the relatively modest power and (perhaps more importantly) lack of aggressive sound? that remains to be seen, and i wonder what aftermarket solutions may add to the equation. i know my scorpion is a lot more fun after some simple bolt-ons and a piggyback system.

    2. range. its the age old question for almost all EVs. in this case with such a small battery pack, the range is already on the small side. and that’s fine for a city car. but now you make a more aggressive trim that people are going to use to discharge electrons as quickly as they can, and that smaller pack is going to give you even smaller range. i can make the occasional 300 mile round trip to Chicago and back to Madison, or up into the northwoods without much concern in my current Abarth. will the new one add much more inconvenience to those infrequent (but still necessary) trips? I suppose I can chill at a recharger for an hour on those rare occasions, but if i have to make more than one stop like that, that’s going to be a problem

    1. if you drive a 500 you should try the electric when it arrives. or even an old 500e, it might surprise you despite 111hp and 3000lbs. it really feels much more powerful than it is…until the torque starts to fade
      the torque is massive thanks to the short gearing and it punches out of corners. lot of wheels pin unfortunately but it should be fixed with sporty rubber, Abarth suspensions plus the larger wheels in the new gen. you may love it or hate it..
      to put things into perspective, the heavier and less powerful electric Abarth clocks significantly faster than the 180hp version on their track. it won’t be as bad as you think on long trips, with 200miles of range, 30 miles per 5min of charge/35min to 80%. you should be able to drive 300 miles with “only” 20mn of charge in best conditions (start with full battery, end with 10%). of course it depends how fast you drive, speed kills range on Evs. definitely not the best car to travel coast to coast but I’d say it should be decent if you do occasional 300miles drives
      I don’t know what to think about artificial sounds, the 500e has a slight motor sound that has grown on me, but coming from an Abarth, it could sound out of place/artificial

    2. A smaller battery does not necessarily equate to less range. This is a small car powered by a small motor, so the weight reduction and lower CdA may make up for the smaller capacity.

  3. The 2013 Abarth in my driveway is now worried I’m going to cheat on her with a younger, more spunky Abarth imbued with instant torque and a proper stereo that’s capable of streaming music. Our relationship, while exciting at times, is starting to feel a bit flat.

    Also, her BFF the Honda E refuses to visit my house – or my country. I’ve had the hots for her for a while now. I guess I’ll stick with the temperamental Italian.

    1. FIATs can let themselves go before you know it. You had better be taking ‘her’ out for some exercise everyday. The Stalantis family likes their pasta.

      *Looks out the window at a 500X and wonders what happened?*

  4. All that Abarth lettering makes me think it’s delivery vehicle for a department store. I’d rather see scorpions.

    “Without further ado, let’s dive into the Abarth 500e to see what makes it tick.”
    Do EVs actually tick? Should they?

  5. Hot hatch? I’m afraid there’s nothing “hot” about 155 horsepower and a 173 pound feet of torque in a 3,000+ pound car. This will be lukewarm, I’d imagine 0-60 will probably be in 8 second range. Unless it gets a bunch of handling goodies I’m not really sure why you’d get this over the regular 500e.

    Although I’ve never driven one, I definitely have a soft spot for the ICE 500 Abarth. They look great, they sound great, and although they aren’t all world performers they’re apparently a fun, engaging, visceral driving experience. I’m not one of the “poo poo every EV” types but I genuinely don’t see the point of this. It can’t deliver on what gave the old car so much character and it’s not powerful enough to really have fun with.

    It’s an EV, so it’s not like it has a manual or rowdy exhaust to make it more engaging. The only option the technology offers engagement wise is MO POWAAAAA BABY and at 155 horses this ain’t got shit in that regard.

    1. My 1971 Alfa Spider 1750 has 135 HP SAE and 137 ft-lb of torque. It weighs 2290 lbs gross. It runs 0-60 in the mid-8’s. So, the Ebarth has more torque but more weight; I’d expect somewhat similar performance.

    2. FWIW, it looks like the regular 500e is predicted to do 0-60 in the low 8’s despite a 40hp deficit (the old 500e was already that quick). With the 3100lbs/181hp Mini Electric being good for 6.1 seconds, the Abarth should end up somewhere between that (right about in line with the old ICE Abarth).

    3. Completely agreed.

      This thing could have 300+ horsepower and the same 173 lb-ft of torque for not much more manufacturing cost. Keeping the same top speed it currently has, it could be re-geared for 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds if this were to happen. A missed opportunity if there ever was one. Probably because of price discrimination that what we see is what is the case, as if this was done and the price didn’t budge much, it would cannibalize the sale of pricier higher-margin vehicles. This is one of the reasons GM killed the turbo Fiero; it was cheaper than and out-performed the pricier, higher-margined Corvette.

  6. Barking dogs seldom bite, as with this rowdy slowpoke in ICE trim. Please at least allow normal people to turn off that hip-happening now-a-go-go sound effect machine. If I get lonesome for it, I’ll put baseball cards in the wheel spokes like I did on my Schwinn Sting Ray.
    Get off my lawn!

  7. Does this mean we get more ads with Catrinel Menghia?

    “On the outside, Abarth has chosen to show off the 500e in a sort of Nuclear Kermit green that’s mildly uncomfortable to look at.”

    This is why we can’t have nice things. And by things I mean colors. If you can look at an Abarth without it leaving an afterimage in your vision then it isn’t bright enough. 😛

  8. Having only 155 horsepower and 173 lb.-ft. of torque and keeping it FWD sounds mildly disappointing to me given the outgoing model had a bit more HP and almost as much torque.

    I think they could have done something far more interesting with the Abarth version of the 500e… such as making it RWD which should be a much easier proposition to engineer in a BEV.

    And that would actually be in keeping with the very original 500 Abarth which was rear-engined/RWD.

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