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
£26,195 - £34,195
Fuel Type:
Electric

Pros

  • Fun to drive
  • Decent real-world range
  • Lots of standard kit

Cons

  • Patchy interior quality
  • Convertible lacks refinement
  • No touchscreen on basic models
Battery sizeRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
24kWh118 miles2hrs 30mins (0-100%, 11kW)30mins (10-80%, 50kW)
42kWh200 miles4hrs 15mins (0-100%, 11kW)35mins (10-80%, 85kW)

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 500. 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. You can even have a folding fabric roof for £3k more.

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 currently comes as standard on all models. A reversing camera is also the preserve of higher-spec trims, but given the excellent visibility from inside the electric 500 and its ultra-compact proportions, it’s not missed.

Thankfully, the third-generation 500 also has more space up front than its predecessor, due to being wider and offering more headroom. 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. However, the 500’s steering is still light, and with that superb visibility, it remains an excellent city car. 

Circa 100bhp might not sound like much these days but the 500's electric motor produces 220Nm of torque, all of which is available in an instant so it feels pretty punchy on the move. If that's not enough, there's a faster Abarth version arriving later this year which can sprint to 62mph in exactly seven seconds.

The standard car's regenerative braking system is fairly aggressive in Range and Sherpa mode, but if you switch to Normal mode the car will coast more – ideal for those who haven’t driven an electric car before. Once you get used to it, though, you’ll be able to enjoy one-pedal driving in the 500 around town like in the MINI or 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, with its low centre of gravity providing good stability. You also get rapid charging as standard, at speeds up to 50kW in 24kWh models and 85kW if you for the bigger battery. A 10-80% charge will take a little over half-an-hour with both models.

In short, the Fiat 500 is one of the most exciting and accomplished electric cars available right now. As a runabout for those based in the city, or as a second vehicle for a suburban family, the 500 electric comes 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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