Atomik 500

Explosive Fiat 500-based supermini takes electric cars to new level.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

With its carbon fibre panels, hi-tech electric motors and advanced lithium-ion phosphate batteries, the Atomik was never likely to be cheap – but the £105,750 price tag puts it well out of the reach of most motorists. Look beyond this, though, and its space-age styling, outrageous performance and zero emissions status provide plenty of appeal. And if the Fiat 500 isn’t your cup of tea, watch this space. Atomik is already working on high-performance electric versions of the MINI and Smart.

Based on a Fiat 500 but inspired by a lunar buggy – it’s the world’s first all-electric supermini supercar! French manufacturer Atomik’s 500 mixes blistering performance and jaw-dropping looks in a city car-sized package. And Auto Express was the first and only magazine to get behind the wheel.

If ever there was a vehicle that drew comparison to an iPod on wheels, this is it. The pearlescent white paint shows off our pre-production prototype’s bulging wheelarches, huge air scoops and curious front end perfectly. Apart from the doors, roof and bonnet, all the redesigned panels are crafted in-house from carbon fibre. None of the exterior features is without function, though. The blanked-out front grille is possible because the advanced lithium-ion phosphate batteries don’t need to be cooled; the extra-wide rear track is there to accommodate unique multi-link suspension, an electric motor and batteries; and the 13-inch wheels are exact replicas of those found on a late Seventies Renault Formula One car.

Inside, a large LED screen replaces the instrument panel, displaying speed, remaining charge and motor temperature. Besides Recaro sports seats and the occasional splash of carbon fibre, the cabin is standard Fiat 500 – plus, there’s a full-size boot. Even weight distribution is maintained by an innovative layout, which includes batteries located under the bonnet and bootlid, and along the transmission tunnel, feeding an electric motor on each axle – delivering four-wheel drive. These are no ordinary electric motors, either. Made in Italy, they were originally designed to rotate antennae on satellites in space. As a result, they’re half the size of any off-the-shelf items currently available, as well as more efficient and 20 per cent more powerful.

Flick the switch where the gearlever would be, squeeze the throttle and you pull away smoothly with only a distant whine. Grip the chunky steering wheel hard, push the throttle to the floor and a surge of acceleration pushes you deep into the bucket seats – it feels much quicker in a straight line than an Abarth 500! In corners, it’s harder to hide the car’s 1,400kg kerbweight – around 500kg more than standard – although multi-link rear suspension modelled on that of the BMW 1-Series and four-wheel-drive grip keep it glued to the road. Plus, the car is suited to daily commuting and country blasts alike, as there’s a range of 120 miles and a charge time of eight hours.

The Atomik 500 looks like nothing else on the road, and is massive fun to drive. But there’s no escaping its eye-watering £100,000 price tag – which makes this strictly for super-rich buyers looking for a new toy.

Rival: MINI E Electric MINI is marked down for its lack of rear seats, but it’s fast, fun and easy to drive. Plus, it’s available to lease now on a trial basis in limited numbers.

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