Stellantis announced earlier this year its bold plan to go purely electric in Europe by the end of the decade and Abarth will be among its first brands to lose the combustion engine. Kickstarting the EV onslaught will be an amped-up version of the latest-generation Fiat 500, which is being sold exclusively as a zero-emission model. Mind you, the old 500 is still around with ICEs and Abarth keeps pumping out new versions to keep it relevant.

Although we are not expecting any major changes in terms of design, the prototype our spies caught was wearing a lot of camouflage. Abarth went to the trouble of covering the wheels and side mirror caps while the roof-mounted spoiler at the rear is tucked away under a piece of black tape. Aside from redesigned bumpers, the spicy version is expected to have prominent "Abarth" lettering at the front where it's bound to replace the large "500" logo of the standard Fiat model.

2023 Abarth 500 EV spy photos

The prototype doesn't seem to be wider than the regular 500, but rest assured the engineers will make an assortment of mechanical changes. These should bring uprated brakes and a stiffer suspension setup for better handling, along with a revised chassis. The most important upgrade will be to the powertrain, which is likely to be based on the version equipped with the larger 42-kWh battery pack.

The standard 500 offers 117 bhp and an instant torque of 220 Newton-metres (162 pound-feet). It remains to be seen how Abarth will improve on these output figures that help the regular model accelerate to 62 mph (100 km/h) from a standstill in nine seconds. Fiat has an electronic top speed limiter programmed to kick in at 93 mph (150 km/h).

Provided it retains the battery – which has a usable capacity of 37.3 kWh – the range is likely to fall below the 199 miles (320 kilometres) achieved by the Fiat 500 according to the WLTP test cycle. Fitting an even bigger battery would add weight, which in turn would hamper performance, so it must've been challenging to develop the Abarth derivative.

Expect the world premiere to take place either by the end of this year or early 2023.