2021 Fiat 500 electric city car: prices, specs and new limited-edition model

The special-edition Fiat (500)RED is available as a hatchback or convertible, with prices starting from £22,995 after the plug-in car grant

This is the Fiat (500)RED: the first limited-edition version of the zero-emissions city car, created in collaboration with international AIDS charity (RED). It's available to order now in both hatchback and convertible forms, and the same choice of battery sizes as the standard 500, too.

There's a choice of four paint schemes, the most distinctive being the single-tone ‘red by (RED)’ option. Go for one of the other colours (Ice White, Onyx Black or Mineral Grey) and you still get red door mirrors and badging at the front, rear and in the centre of the steering wheel.

Inside, the dashboard is also painted in the charity’s signature red, and you get a contrasting driver’s seat in red while the others are in black. There’s a red anodised aluminium accelerator pedal, too, while owners also receive an e-mail from Fiat boss Olivier Francois welcoming them to the (RED) community.

The (500)RED was unveiled in September 2021 at the opening of a new exhibition at Fiat's historic Lingotto factory in Turin. It’s offered in the same range of configurations as the regular electric 500, including hatchback or convertible bodystyles and a choice of either a 24 or 42kWh battery, for a range of 115 and 199 miles respectively.

Prices for the (500)RED hatchback with the 24kWh battery start from £22,995 after the government’s plug-in car grant (PiCG), while those fitted with the 42kWh unit are priced from £25,995 after the £2,500 grant has been deducted. The convertible (500)RED is only available with the larger battery, and starts from £28,645.

The third-generation 500 was launched in 2020 and is electric-only. The range starts from £20,995 after the plug-in car grant has been deducted, stretching to £27,995 for the range-topping La Prima. Prices for the convertible version run from £28,645 to £30,995 (more trim-level details below).

There'll be no petrol-engined version of this third-generation Fiat 500, although the mild-hybrid version of the previous-generation model remains on sale and is also available in (RED) trim. A high-performance Abarth version of the electric 500 hasn't been ruled out, although there are no official plans for one at this stage.

In Europe, Fiat offers an '3+1' version of the electric 500, with a small rear-hinged back door on one side only that gives easier access to the back seats. This version is currently available in left-hand-drive markets only; it weighs just 30kg more than the standard car, but there's no impact on range.

Rivals for the new electric 500 include the Honda e, BMW i3 and MINI Electric, while the 500 convertible goes head-to-head with the Smart EQ ForTwo Cabrio.

New Fiat 500 electric: prices, specs, batteries, range and charging

The electric Fiat 500 range kicks off with the hatchback-only Action trim level, priced at an eye-catching £20,995 after the plug-in car grant. It comes with a 24kWh battery and a 94bhp electric motor for a top speed of 84mph. The 0-62mph sprint takes 9.5 seconds, while Fiat claims a driving range of 115 miles for this model.

Standard kit on the Action includes safety technology such as driver drowsiness monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance and traffic-sign recognition. In place of a built-in infotainment system, it has a smartphone cradle and Bluetooth connectivity so owners can use their own phone apps for navigation and music playing – much like you would in a Volkswagen e-up!. Keyless go, rear parking sensors and a seven-inch digital instrument panel are all standard.

The same 24kWh battery and 94bhp electric motor are also available in the aforementioned RED trim for £22,995. Models in this trim feature red exterior accents, dashboard and contrasting driver's seat, as well as a 16-inch alloy wheels and a 10.25-inch central infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and voice control as standard.

The Fiat (500)RED is also available with a larger 42kWh battery and more powerful 117bhp electric motor – a combination that reduces the 0-62mph time to nine seconds exactly, boosts top speed to 93mph and extends the maximum driving range to 199 miles. This powertrain is offered in both hatchback and convertible bodystyles, with prices starting from £25,995 and £28,645 respectively after the plug-in car grant is deducted.

Above the limited-edition 500(RED) is Icon, priced at £25,995 as a hatchback or £28,645 as a convertible. It also uses the 42kWh battery and 87kW motor, and features the 10.25-inch dashboard screen previously mentioned, plus 16-inch alloy wheels, hands-free entry, a body-coloured dashboard and further interior styling touches.

Above Icon sits the 'La Prima' launch model which was the first to be announced. 'La Prima' models get the same 42kWh battery and 87kW motor combination, with the addition of 17-inch alloy wheels, reversing camera and wireless smartphone charging. Prices for these start from £27,995 for the hatchback and £30,995 for the convertible.

Recharging 500 models fitted with the 24kWh battery will take around four hours if you use a 7.4kW wallbox, while those fitted with the larger 42kWh units will need closer to six before being fully topped up. For rapid charging at public stations, the entry-level Action with the 24kWh battery can charge at up to 50kW, which is sufficient for a 10-80% top-up in under half an hour. On models with the larger 42kWh battery, the fastest charging speed is 85kW, which will top you up to 80% in 35 minutes from a correspondingly fast public point.

On-board technology

The new pure-electric Fiat 500 gets a lot of new technology. The car can be operated in three driving modes: Normal, Range and the interestingly-titled Sherpa setting. The latter can adjust the car’s maximum speed, throttle response and climate-control to maximise efficiency and range.

Normal mode is described as being ‘as close as possible to driving a vehicle with a normal combustion engine’, while Range mode allows for one-pedal operation and maximises regenerative braking.

Remarkably, in place of the usual synthesised noise required to alert pedestrians of the car’s presence, the 500 plays music from the classic Italian film Amarcord, composed by Nino Rota. This feature, Fiat says, will be "available later" rather than included at launch.

The 'Level 2' autonomous equipment fitted to the new 500 includes adaptive cruise control, lane centring, road-sign recognition and a blind-spot warning system, plus a driver attention assist feature and 360-degree parking sensors.

Fiat has also fitted the 500 (in RED trim and above) with its latest Uconnect 5 infotainment setup – an Android-based system displayed on a touchscreen. It features Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity, plus integration with a telematics box that can automatically call the emergency services, or be used to monitor the car (or control certain functions) remotely using a smartphone app.

Design

Although it's brand-new from the ground up, the chic supermini looks a lot like the old 500, with a familiar face and recognisable proportions. The differences between the convertible and hatchback are subtle – the latter swaps the sliding fabric top for a panoramic glass roof, while there’s a new rear spoiler and a tweaked tailgate design.

Sleeker, more minimalist touches to the exterior and a much more luxurious interior are particular highlights, while a ‘500’ badge now takes pride of place on the car’s nose, highlighted in blue to signify the electrification underneath.

According to Fiat brand president Olivier Francois, the new electric 500 "has to bring new customers to the brand. The 500 has this power to pull new buyers coming from anywhere. I mean, people go from a Range Rover to a 500. They just want the thing, badly, because it’s so cool. So we thought because of this power of attraction, we really had the duty to use this to attract people to electric.”

Francois adds: "I think you’re going to have a bit of a two-fold customer. On the one hand, you'll have people who are totally new to electric, who've never had an electric car. but who are passionate about the design, the coolness, the statement that the 500 makes about who you are.

“The other aspect will be the fanatics, who are not necessarily green. It’s just people who want the 500, and they're very loyal. They have bought maybe two or three 500s over the past few years. And now, if they want the latest new car, they have to go electric as well. I think it'll be a mix of conquest and loyalty. But in both cases, our objective is the same: to convert drivers from petrol to electric."

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