Fiat 500e review: the handbag dog of EVs
Fiat's city car icon has gone electric and while it remains fundamentally flawed, it’s nevertheless bursting with charm – and should be cheap to run, too
- Fun to drive
- Low running costs
- Convertible model available
- Patchy interior quality
- Cramped interior
- Rivals have more range
Wallbox charge time
Rapid charge time
4hrs 15mins (0-100%, 11kW)
35mins (10-80%, 85kW)
Fiat 500e verdict
The Fiat 500e is undeniably one of the most stylish and desirable small electric cars out there, but things aren’t all ‘dolce vita’. Despite a growth spurt, the electric 500 is just as impractical as its petrol predecessor, while starting at over £28,000, base models are rather expensive, especially given that they can only cover around 100 miles on a charge. All of that being said, the plug-in Fiat city car is incredibly smooth and easy to drive and we’re pretty impressed with the tech that’s on offer. It may not ooze the same retro charm as the original, and the larger 600e SUV ultimately offers more bang for your buck, but the 500’s appeal nevertheless continues to outgrow its tiny size.
Range details, specs and alternatives
The Fiat 500 you see here might look a lot like the retro remake that launched back in 2007, but in reality it couldn't be more different. While a mild-hybrid version of that previous generation car remains on sale, the latest generation of Fiat’s iconic city car is available exclusively with electric power.
There are currently two powertrains offered for the Fiat 500e. The first uses a 24kWh battery and 92bhp electric motor for a range of up to 118 miles, but if you upgrade to the 42kWh battery not only does power increase to 112bhp, the 500’s range jumps to around 200 miles. Each variant gets 50kW and 75kW DC rapid charging capabilities, respectively, allowing for a 10-80% top-up at a public charger in around half-an-hour.
If you’re after a bit more poke, there’s now the hot Abarth 500e which shares the Fiat’s cheeky styling, but gets a more potent 153bhp powertrain for 0-62mph in seven seconds. Range drops to a maximum of only 164 miles, though.
But Fiat hasn’t simply stuck an electric motor into its dinky city car and called it a day. The electric 500 is 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.
The elegant design continues inside, with a slim two-spoke steering wheel and a circular instrument pod containing a seven-inch digital display that’s fitted to all models as standard. That’s paired with a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard that comes with built-in sat nav, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Speaking of standard equipment, the 500e is available in three trim levels: New 500, (RED) and La Prima. Despite starting from almost £30,000, the base ‘New 500’ is far from lavishly equipped; all cars do get climate control, lane-keep assist and cruise control, though. Opting for the (RED) edition adds, as you’d expect, plenty of red styling accents, but little else in terms of additional equipment.
The top-spec La Prima model is rather expensive, not least because it’s only available with the larger of the two battery configurations. It does add a plethora of goodies, though, including a glass sunroof, heated seats, LED headlights, a JBL sound system and, perhaps most crucially for some, a reversing camera – the base 500 doesn’t even get parking sensors, although given its small size, we don’t think this should be a dealbreaker.
For roughly £3,000 more, Fiat offers the convertible 500Ce, which has an electrically folding fabric roof. At the time of writing, the Italian brand is also offering its own £3,000 ‘Fiat E-Grant’ on all of its 500e models, which makes now perhaps a better time than ever to jump into ownership of this dinky city runabout.
Click here to see why you can trust DrivingElectric reviews, or for a more detailed look at the Fiat 500e, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingFiat's city car icon has gone electric and while it remains fundamentally flawed, it’s nevertheless bursting with charm – and should be cheap to run, too
- 2Range, battery & chargingWhile the smaller battery 500e is really only suitable for driving around town, the larger 42kWh version allows for some longer journeys
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe Fiat 500e is incredibly cheap to run and the brand’s E-Grant makes it slightly more affordable to buy, too
- 4Performance, motor & driveThe Fiat 500e feels nippier than you might expect and has been perfectly designed for pootling around town
- 5Interior, dashboard & infotainmentThe Fiat 500e’s interior isn’t quite as plush as its price point suggests, but the infotainment system is good, nonetheless
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityPoor practicality is the Fiat 500e’s biggest downfall, due to its cramped rear seats and tiny boot, whichever model you go for
- 7Reliability & safety ratingFiat's customer satisfaction record isn't great, the 500e should be pretty safe though