Abarth is developing its own coupé version of the Fiat 500 in a bid to create a more exclusive, extreme version of the popular city car.

This caricature-like official artist’s impression gives little away about the car, which is inspired by the Zagato Abarth 750 T of 1959.

See the official artist's impression of the new Abarth 500 speedster

But it hints at a shallower glass area, cut-down windscreen and faster rake of the roofline and D-pillars. It’s understood the car will be offered in open and closed forms. The hard-top version will have the Zagato-signature double-bubble roof of the original.

The 750 T had huge scoops to feed its rear-mounted engine, and these will be hinted at by a new, enlarged tail spoiler. Bigger wheels and multiple detail changes will also distinguish these models, which will be the first modern Abarths with body styles exclusive to the marque.

There will be interior upgrades too, and some versions will have their rear seats removed, as was often the case with Italian coupés of the 1950s and 1960s.

The Abarth coupé is likely to be offered with the 178bhp 1.4 litre T-Jet engine from the limited-edition Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari.

An alternative would be Fiat’s new 1.4 MultiAir engine, which has just appeared in the Abarth Punto Evo. That engine develops 163bhp and 184lb ft of torque in standard form or 178bhp and 199lb ft of torque with Esseesse tuning.

Either way, the coupé is likely to be quick, with a 0-62mph time that should come inside the 7.4sec of the 500C Esseesse. Its top speed should be higher too.

This new 500 body style is expected to remain exclusive to Abarth and will be followed by a pure two-seat sports car, also expected to be unique to the brand.

The roadster was originally scheduled to have been based on the aluminium bonded chassis of the Lotus Elise, but insiders now say its core will be sourced elsewhere.

Richard Bremner