Road Test: Fiat 500 Electric
Martyn Collins reckons the new 500 moves a proven city car formula on, with great success.
SECTOR City car PRICE £22,995-£32,995 CHARGING 7kW AC / 85kW DC RANGE 115-199 miles
The modern Fiat 500, which was launched an unbelievable 14 years ago, seemed to quench the desire for small cars that could be personalised to customers’ tastes.
Now we have an all-new electric-only 500 hatch and convertible to appeal to the next generation.
It might look like an updated version of the attractive original, but the third-generation 500 is based on an all-new electric platform. So, it’s also grown – being 61mm longer, 56mm wider and 29mm taller than the previous generation.
There are bigger changes inside; although the basic dashboard shape looks similar, the instruments are replaced by a 7-inch TFT, with up to a 10.25-inch infotainment screen perched on top. Elsewhere, there’s a wireless phone charger in the centre (where fitted), with some neat detailing celebrating the fact that this car is made in the Italian Mirafiori plant dotted around the interior. The extra space brings a more comfortable driving position for taller drivers, although this compromises rear space.
We could be picky and say we’re not fans of the buttons that replace interior door handles – they’re fiddly. Plus, we feel the interior plastics should be better quality. The Action trim has basic kit, but Passion includes 15-inch wheels, 7-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connection, plus cruise control, climate control and rear parking sensors.
Icon adds the 10.25-inch infotainment screen and 16-inch alloy wheels. And the range-topping La Prima has six-way adjustable seats trimmed in eco-leather, 17-inch alloy wheels and a six-speaker sound system.
Entry-level Action has a 24kWh battery, bringing 95hp and a range of 115 miles. The Passion, Icon and La Prima trims are fitted with a bigger 42kWh battery, with a longer range of 199 miles and 118hp. Our Icon hatch, expected to be the most popular trim for fleet, has a top speed of 93mph, plus a 9-second 0-60mph acceleration time.
Likely to be the most interesting figures for fleet buyers are the 1% BiK figure and a time of 30 minutes to fast-charge to 80% via an 85kW fast charger.
The electric version has to be the quickest-accelerating 500 this side of the sportiest Abarth. There are also three driving modes, giving this Fiat a different character. ‘Normal’, as the name suggests is the most conventional mode and closest in terms of feel to a combustion engine. ‘Range’ mode makes the 500 capable of ‘one-pedal’ driving, with acceleration or deacceleration done with just the accelerator – that works well. ‘Sherpa’ is a get-you-home mode, to make the most of any limited range left in the battery and take the driver to the nearest charging point.
The steering is also precise, although it could do with more feel, but this 500 still handles well and the ride was comfortable on the 15-inch alloy wheels.
So, it’s no surprise to find the 500 makes an excellent EV. Fiat has cleverly moved its successful formula on and, if electric is not for you, the second-generation ICE model continues to be offered alongside for now.
The electric Fiat 500 follows a proven formula, being stylish inside and out and good to drive. However, the electric drivetrain has a useful range and there’s more interior space to give added comfort.
Key Fleet Model: Fiat 500 e Icon
Strengths: Chic styling, easy to drive, range
Weaknesses: Interior trim, tight rear space
Fleet World Star Rating