In-depth reviews

Fiat 500 electric review

The iconic Fiat 500 city car has gone electric-only in its latest incarnation – and it’s better than its petrol predecessor in every way

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£22,714 - £29,714
Fuel Type:
Electric

Pros

  • Fun to drive
  • Decent real-world range
  • Good value mid-range models

Cons

  • Patchy interior quality
  • Convertible lacks refinement
  • No touchscreen on basic models
Battery sizeRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
24kWh115 miles2hrs 30mins (0-100%, 11kW)30mins (10-80%, 50kW)
42kWh199 miles4hrs 15mins (0-100%, 11kW)35mins (10-80%, 85kW)

The Fiat 500 is up there with the MINI when it comes to retro-styled small cars. Just like its major rival, the Italian car was reinvented for the 21st century, and now both are embracing electrification. In the Fiat's case, electric is your only option if you want to buy one, although its petrol-engined predecessor will continue to be sold alongside it as the '500 Classic' for some time.

Key to the new Fiat 500’s appeal is its price tag. This is a small electric car that – after the government grant has been taken into account – starts from just over £20,000. If you’ve got a bit more money to spend, there are bigger batteries and plusher specs on offer, and you can even order one with a folding fabric roof.

The style-conscious people the 500 is so squarely aimed at will love what Fiat has done. In the metal, it looks fantastic; the designers have applied just enough changes to freshen it up, without losing the car’s iconic shape. It’s actually about 60mm longer and wider than the old car, and up front, there's an elegant line splitting the LED headlights in two. The switch to electric power also allows a nod to the classic 500's smooth front end, as the rear-engined original didn't need a grille at the front either.

But looks aside, this new 500 is a genuinely talented small electric car. It’s got an unbeatable image, a smart interior and loads of on-board technology. The elegant design continues inside, with a slim two-spoke steering wheel, a circular instrument pod containing a seven-inch digital display, plus a larger 10.25-inch infotainment screen. The latter makes another nod to the 500's past, as it sits atop the centre of the dashboard, where the rear-view mirror was mounted in the 1960s original.

This third-generation 500 has more space up front than its predecessor, thanks to being wider and offering more headroom. The latest Fiat UConnect infotainment system works well, too, offering full Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. Good news for front-seat occupants, then, but it's still a tight squeeze for anyone bigger than a toddler in the back and the boot remains very small, at just 185 litres.

Practicality isn’t its strong suit, then, but if you can live with the small boot and cramped rear seats, this new Fiat 500 is much more than a style-focused one-trick pony. It might be 12 months late to the 'fashionable small electric car' party, but it does just enough to trump its city-car rivals when it comes to all-round appeal.

Plus, the 500’s steering is still light, and with excellent visibility, it remains an excellent city car with the added bonus of all its electric motor’s 220Nm of torque available in an instant. The regenerative braking system is fairly aggressive in Range mode, but if you switch to Normal mode the car will coast more – ideal for those who haven’t experienced driving an electric car before. Once you get used to it, you’ll be able to enjoy one-pedal driving in the 500 around town like in the Honda e.

The 500's ride does become slightly busy at low speeds when you encounter potholes and bumps, but it’s still fun to drive, will do nearly 200 miles on a charge and can top up using some of the latest rapid chargers.

The Fiat 500 is one of the most exciting and accomplished electric cars available right now. As a runabout for city-based young people, or a second vehicle for a suburban family, the 500 electric come close to ticking all the boxes. For a more detailed look at the car, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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