fiat 500 ev

Fiat 500 Electric Review

The Fiat 500 has long been a symbol of Italian style and flair, and with the introduction of the all-electric Fiat 500, it has become even more appealing. This small EV offers a practical, real-world range and updated onboard tech, making it a top choice for those in the market for a stylish and capable electric city car.

Featured Image credit: topgear

A Modern Evolution of an Icon

The Fiat 500 has a storied history, dating back to 1957 when the original city car graced the streets. In 2007, the modern interpretation of this iconic vehicle made its debut as a three-door hatchback. Fast forward to today, and the latest third-generation model has shifted to all-electric power, maintaining its distinctive Italian flair.

This new Fiat 500 is slightly longer, wider, and taller than its petrol-powered predecessor. It utilizes an all-new platform designed exclusively for electric power, ensuring no compromises on interior space. This is a common issue when manufacturers attempt to retrofit a zero-emissions powertrain into a combustion-engined car. The result is a more spacious cabin, making the Fiat 500 Electric one of the best small cars currently available.

Performance and Power Options

The Fiat 500 Electric offers buyers a choice between two battery sizes and power outputs, both driven by a single electric motor powering the front wheels. The base model features a 24kWh battery and 92bhp, allowing it to cover 118 miles on a single charge. While this range may not suffice for all buyers, a more potent option is available.

For those seeking an extended range and more power, there’s a variant with a 42kWh battery, pushing the range to a more impressive 200 miles, with 116bhp at your disposal. While not a speed demon, the Fiat 500 Electric offers a respectable 0-62mph time of around nine seconds. Enthusiasts can also anticipate a hot version, the Abarth 500e, arriving soon with even more performance.

Competitors and Trims

The all-electric Fiat 500 competes directly with two main rivals: the MINI Electric and the Honda E. The MINI Electric offers a classy alternative, while the Honda E stands out with its futuristic styling. Other options in the small electric car class include the Ora Funky Cat, Peugeot e-208, Vauxhall Corsa Electric, and the Renault Zoe. However, these options may need more curb appeal to seal the deal.

Buyers of this car have the choice of two battery sizes and power outputs. The base model comes with a 24kWh battery and 92bhp, providing a range of 118 miles. For those who require more range, there is a more significant 42kWh battery option, extending the range to 200 miles, with 116bhp on tap. An even hotter version, the Abarth 500e, is set to arrive soon with additional power.

The trim structure has undergone several revisions since its launch, with the current options being the base 500 (RED) edition and ‘La Prima by Bocelli’. Prices for the electric 500 start from just over £28,000, making it one of the cheapest EVs on the market. Upgrading to the larger battery adds £3,000 to the price, and the convertible versions command an additional £3,000 premium.

A Fresh Start with Electric Underpinnings

Unlike previous models, the new Fiat 500 Electric lacks combustion engines. It is built in a new Turin factory, leaving the existing 500 factory free to continue manufacturing petrol-powered models for a few more years. This transition to electric is commendable, earning the Fiat 500 Electric the title of the Best Small Electric Car for 2023 in the Parkers New Car Awards.

The interior has received a modern makeover, moving away from the retro charm of the old model. It offers a more contemporary and better-built environment. Top-end models come equipped with digital dials paired with a widescreen infotainment display. The cabin design minimizes buttons and switches for a cleaner look.

City Driving Excellence

The Fiat 500, both the original and the modern-day version, has always excelled in urban environments. The new Fiat 500 Electric continues this tradition with its light steering, making maneuvering around tight corners, roundabouts, and parking lots effortless. The car’s agility is complemented by its impressive turning circle of under 10 meters, second only to the Honda E.

Additionally, it offers a ‘Range’ mode with regenerative braking, which can save energy and extend your driving range. This feature can take some getting used to, as it feels like firm braking, but it proves useful for those concerned about range anxiety.

Highway Performance and Features

While the Fiat 500 Electric thrives in city environments, it does face some challenges on the highway. Wind and tire noise become more pronounced, which is understandable given its focus on urban driving. The car offers automated cruise control, auto-steer for added safety, and lane-keeping technology.

Acceleration and overtaking capabilities have improved over its petrol-powered predecessor, instilling confidence for highway driving or navigating heavy traffic.

Driving on Twisty Roads

On country roads, the Fiat 500 Electric’s suspension may feel unsettled, more so than in urban or highway settings. This is due to the car’s weight and firm suspension, which is necessary to counterbalance the added weight of the batteries. However, the lower center of gravity helps maintain stability through corners.

While it may not match the Mini Electric in terms of driving fun, the Fiat 500 Electric still offers its unique charm, blending style and heritage.

Interior and Storage Space

The interior of the Fiat 500e is modern and well-built, with top-end models featuring digital dials combined with a widescreen infotainment display. The cabin design minimizes buttons and switches, creating a clean and sleek appearance. Base models come with a smartphone cradle, while higher trims offer a fully integrated infotainment system.

Storage space is surprisingly generous for a small car. The door bins can accommodate a generous-sized bottle, and additional storage areas are between the front seats. Lift the central armrest, and you’ll find a deep storage area. However, the rear of the car needs more storage options, with a lack of cupholders being an obvious omission.

The rear seats of the 500e are best suited for children or small adults, as taller individuals may struggle with headroom and legroom. The boot space is sufficient for three small suitcases, with the option to fold down the rear seats for additional storage. The tall tailgate provides easy access to the boot.

Design and Exterior

The car retains the classic charm and retro aesthetic of its gasoline-powered counterpart. It features the same iconic silhouette and compact dimensions, making it perfect for urban environments. However, some subtle design changes set it apart from the traditional Fiat 500.

The front of the vehicle has been updated with a closed grille, which enhances aerodynamics and gives the car a more modern and futuristic look. LED headlights and a redesigned bumper complete the front-end refresh. The overall result is a car that retains the character of the original Fiat 500 while embracing the electric future.

Interior and Features

Inside the Fiat 500 Electric, you’ll find a well-designed, comfortable cabin combining modern technology and retro-inspired details. The use of sustainable materials, such as recycled plastics and eco-friendly fabrics, adds to the car’s eco-conscious appeal.

The dashboard features a 10.25-inch touchscreen display that provides access to the car’s infotainment system, which includes navigation, smartphone integration, and various connectivity options. The digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel offers clear and customizable information about speed, range, and energy consumption.

Other notable features include a rearview camera, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, and a comprehensive suite of safety features like lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking. Despite its small size, it offers surprising interior space, with ample legroom and headroom for both the driver and passengers.

Performance and Range

The vehicle is powered by a 42 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that drives a 118-horsepower electric motor. This combination gives the car peppy acceleration and responsive handling, making it a joy to drive in urban settings. The instant torque delivery of the electric motor adds to the car’s agility, allowing it to navigate through traffic easily.

In terms of range, it offers an estimated 199 miles on a single charge, which is more than enough for most daily commutes. The car also features regenerative braking, which helps to maximize range by converting kinetic energy into electricity during deceleration.

Charging and Infrastructure

Charging the Fiat 500 Electric is a breeze, thanks to its compatibility with both AC and DC charging. With a standard AC charger, the car can be fully charged in 6-8 hours, while a DC fast charger can provide an 80% charge in 30 minutes.

Furthermore, Fiat has partnered with various charging networks to provide easy access to a growing number of public charging stations. This ensures that owners of the Fiat 500 Electric can confidently embark on longer journeys without the fear of running out of power.

Verdict: A Stylish and Capable City Car

Overall, the Fiat 500 Electric is an excellent electric city car, provided you do not require excessive interior space or expect luxury-level quality. The retro-chic design is undeniably appealing, and the range and charging capabilities are competitive. It offers a balance of efficiency and performance, making it an ideal choice for urban driving. The inclusion of safety features such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control further enhances its appeal. While there are limitations in terms of interior space and overall practicality, the Fiat 500e makes up for it with its distinctive style and agile performance.

While its class may have more spacious options, it excels in urban environments and offers a unique driving experience. If you are drawn to its iconic looks, the Fiat 500 Electric is definitely worth considering.