Fiat 500 electric motor, drive & performance
Easy, quick and and comfortable, the latest Fiat 500 ticks a lot of boxes. It’s more adept at motorway driving 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 all changed with this latest version. The driver’s seat is now lower, meaning it’s much easier to get comfortable, while the way the car drives is far more rewarding than before. Electric power really suits the 500, in fact; it feels nippy and agile – even in Normal mode – with more than enough performance for day-to-day driving.
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. Much like the MINI Electric's Green+ mode, the Fiat’s Sherpa setting turns off the air-conditioning 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 car gets a chunk more power.
Acceleration is brisk, but the Fiat isn’t as quick as a MINI Electric or Honda e. There always seems to be enough power on tap for overtakes, however, 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 Honda e and 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 a lovely control and predictability to the way it drives, and although the steering is light and doesn't offer much in the way of feel, it’s easy to place the 500 on the road. The power leveraged by your right foot is sufficient to put a smile on your face, too.
Ride 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 & chargingThere are two batteries to choose from, with the larger 42kWh model beating both the Honda e and MINI Electric for driving range
- 3Running costsLow prices and zero-emission running make the electric 500 an incredibly cheap car to run – for private buyers and company-car drivers alike
- 4Electric motor, drive & performance - currently readingEasy, quick and and comfortable, the latest Fiat 500 ticks a lot of boxes. It’s more adept at motorway driving than you might imagine, too
- 5Interior & comfortMid-range electric Fiat 500s come with a good list of standard equipment, and while there are some cheaper materials in some areas, on the whole the electric hatchback feels well built
- 6Practicality & boot spacePoor practicality is the Fiat 500’s biggest downfall, due to its cramped rear seats and tiny boot, whichever model you go for
- 7Reliability & safetyAs this is Fiat’s first pure-electric model, it’s hard to comment on the latest 500’s reliability