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
- Fun to drive
- Decent real-world range
- Lots of standard kit
- Patchy interior quality
- Convertible lacks refinement
- No touchscreen on basic models
|Battery size||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|24kWh*||115 miles||2hrs 30mins (0-100%, 11kW)||30mins (10-80%, 50kW)|
|42kWh||199 miles||4hrs 15mins (0-100%, 11kW)||35mins (10-80%, 85kW)|
* currently unavailable due to supply-chain issues
Much like the similarly retro-styled MINI, the Fiat 500 was reinvented for the 21st century when the first modern reincarnation of the small Italian car was launched in 2007. Now, while a mild-hybrid version of that previous generation remains on sale, the latest generation of Fiat’s iconic city car is available exclusively with electric power.
At launch, the entry-level version of the Fiat 500 was fitted with a 24kWh battery and 92bhp electric motor for a range of around 115 miles. However, as of July 2022, that’s no longer available to order due to supply constraints, bringing the starting price of the MINI Electric and Honda e rival to just under £29,500.
For that, you get a larger 42kWh battery for an impressive near-200-mile range – a much higher figure than either of its key rivals can muster – as well as a bump in power to 112bhp and more kit as standard. You can even have a folding fabric roof.
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 – however some lower-spec cars get a seven-inch unit or even just a smartphone cradle instead. 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.
Its electric motor produces 220Nm of torque, all of which is available in an instant. The regenerative braking system is fairly aggressive in Range 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 85kW.
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…
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe 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 & driveEasy 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 & comfortThanks to a trim-level update, the electric city car features a generous amount of luxury kit as standard, while remaining cheaper than key competitors
- 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