Fiat 500 electric performance, top speed & drive
Easy to drive, quick and comfortable, the latest Fiat 500 ticks a lot of boxes. It's more adept at motorway cruising than you might imagine, too
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What's the electric Fiat 500 like to drive? Well, the news is good; while the old petrol car was always playful, it was flawed in so many ways – not least its high-set driving position. But that has changed with this latest version.
The driver’s seat is now slightly lower; you still feel as if you're perched a little high, but it's much easier to get comfortable than before. The way the car drives is far more rewarding, too. Electric power really suits the 500 – it feels nippy and agile, with more than enough performance for day-to-day driving.
There is no Sport mode, so the car will default to its Normal setting when you start it up. If you’re less fussed about outright speed and prefer to eke out every last mile of electric range, other drive modes limit the amount of power on tap and ramp up the regenerative braking. Much like the MINI Electric's Green+ mode, the Fiat’s Sherpa setting turns off the air-conditioning and softens throttle response for maximum range.
This car is definitely at its best around town, where the light steering makes it super-easy to drive. It’s perhaps not as well suited to faster, flowing roads, but it never feels out of its depth – not even at speed on the motorway.
Fiat 500 electric 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration
No matter which Fiat 500 electric you go for, every model does 0-62mph in around nine seconds – despite the fact that the bigger-battery model getting a chunk more power. Acceleration is brisk, but the Fiat isn’t as quick as a MINI Electric or Honda e. A hot Abarth version is arriving later this year, which should satisfy those after a chunk more power.
Regardless, even the standard Fiat 500 seems to be enough power on tap for overtakes, and around town you never feel short of punch. Even on the open road or motorway, the Fiat feels right at home – just don’t go attempting any land speed records.
Let’s get things straight – the Fiat 500 isn’t as sharp to drive as the MINI Electric. But the trade-off is a more compliant ride that offers a level of comfort missing from this car’s main rivals.That’s not to say the Fiat feels sloppy when you pick up the pace.
There's enough power to put a smile on your face and there’s a lovely control and predictability to the way it drives. Although the steering is very light and doesn't offer much in the way of feel, it’s easy to place the 500 on the road, too. Unfortunately, Fiat doesn't offer a Sport mode for the 500 electric, but the forthcoming Abarth 500e will surely be more fun to drive, so if that kind of thing is a priority, then it might be worth the wait.
Comfort is good, as well. The Fiat strikes a good balance between ride and handling, ironing out all the worst lumps and bumps without feeling too soft or wallowy during faster changes of direction. Body roll is noticeable, but it's no more pronounced than in a Renault ZOE.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe iconic Fiat 500 city car has gone electric-only in its latest incarnation – and it's better than its petrol predecessor in every way
- 2Range, battery & chargingThe zero-emissions Fiat 500 manages to beat both the Honda e and MINI Electric for driving range thanks to a 42kWh battery
- 3Running costs & insuranceZero tailpipe emissions and low insurance ratings make the electric Fiat 500 an incredibly cheap car to run – for private buyers and company-car drivers alike
- 4Performance, motor & drive - currently readingEasy to drive, quick and comfortable, the latest Fiat 500 ticks a lot of boxes. It's more adept at motorway cruising than you might imagine, too
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThe Fiat 500 electric isn't as good value as it once was, but the option of a smaller battery has brought the city car's price down again
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityPoor practicality is the Fiat 500’s biggest downfall, due to its cramped rear seats and tiny boot, whichever model you go for
- 7Reliability & safety ratingAs this is Fiat's first pure-electric model, it's hard to comment on reliability just yet; it does have a reasonable four-star Euro NCAP safety score, though