Pros: Style icon, digital cabin, fun to drive in town.
Cons: Unsettled ride, small boot, small rear seating.
The iconic Italian city car goes electric. Relaunched as the new 500 back in 2007, the Fiat 500 has been a top seller for Fiat ever since. Badged the Fiat 500e, the latest 500 now boasts zero emissions and a driving range possible of up to 320 kilometres, depending on which version you go for. It’s chic and cute but has Fiat done enough to give the 500e the substance it needs to hold its own in a competitive market now rammed with small electric cars like the Peugeot e-208 and Mini Electric?
Fiat 500e Design
The Fiat 500 is a modern design icon and thankfully Fiat has not sacrificed any of this car’s style for the electric version. It’s fair to say the 500 has never looked better. Built on a new platform, the Fiat 500e has grown a little in several directions, but it’s still tiny measuring less than four metres in length. If you’re looking for a city car, the 500e practically defines the segment.
The Fiat 500e is available as a classic, three-door hatchback or as a cabriolet with a folding fabric roof. It has been suitably modernised for a new generation with charismatic split lighting at the front, a closed grille with large 500 logo in the centre and gill-shaped indicators that are a design tribute to the original 500 from 1957. There’s a chrome strip along the shoulder line and around the windows, while new flush door handles add an upmarket finish.
At the back there’s a roof spoiler, new light clusters, and a chunky bumper. Wheel sizes vary between 15 and 17-inches depending on which trim you go for.
Fiat 500e Interior
The Fiat 500 electric has a new cabin with lots of cool digital features and fabrics from recycled materials. On the driver’s side there’s a new two-spoke steering wheel and digital display. The dashboard has a simple and straightforward design built around the new Fiat Uconnect infotainment system. All but the entry model get an impressive 10-inch touchscreen with lots of functionality and crisp graphics. But no matter which version you go for, there’s wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The top of the range model also comes with wireless smartphone charging. The material quality is okay, but it’s not the best in the segment. There’s still quite a lot of exposed plastic but it’s mixed with some nice features like a fabric panel on the dashboard. The range-topping La Prima model gets gorgeous eco-leather seats.
The cabin feels bright and airy thanks to a large windscreen and windows. There’s more shoulder room and legroom than before, so two adults can get comfortable up front. It’s tighter in the back with just two seats and seatbelts. Both come with Isofix but this is hardly the most practical small car on the market, though Fiat also fits Isofix to the front passenger seat. The boot measures 185 litres and will accommodate a few bags.
Fiat 500e Performance & Drive
The Fiat 500e comes with the choice of two batteries. The 500e 24kWh has 95hp and a range of up to 190 kilometres (WLTP), which is limiting unless this will be a second car or exclusively used for city driving. The 500e 42kWh offers more flexibility with up to 320 kilometres of range (WLTP) and 118hp. Driving modes allow you to alter the driving style somewhat. The Range mode offers efficient one-pedal driving, and the Sherpa mode turns off the air conditioning and reduces the top speed to 80km/h to conserve battery power.
The 500e is at its best in town and city driving where you can make the most of the compact dimensions and light steering. Out on bigger roads, the 500e doesn’t feel quite as mature as some other small electric cars. The bouncy ride can be a bit frustrating on longer journeys.
AC and DC fast charging are possible with the 500e. You can fast charge the 500e at up to 85kW, getting to 80% charge in about 35 minutes. You’re more likely to be charging the 500e at home, and because it’s not a huge battery, it only takes about 6 hours to charge to full from a standard 7kW wallbox.
Fiat 500e Pricing
In Ireland the Fiat 500e is available in three trim levels: Action, Icon, and La Prima. The 500e 24kWh is available only in the Action trim (from €24,995), but the version with the larger 42kWh battery is available in Icon (from €29,995) and La Prima (from €33,495) trim. All cars do come well equipped with even the entry model getting air con, keyless entry, and safety equipment such as traffic sign recognition and lane control. There’s also the Fiat 500e Red special edition available from €29,995 with a 42kWh battery.
The Fiat 500 has grown up and it’s never looked better. The Fiat 500e 42kWh offers decent battery range for a car that should spend most of its time in town and comes well-equipped. Some rivals offer more space and are better all-rounders, but nothing can match the iconic 500 for style and image.