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First Drive

First Drive: Fiat 500e

The story: Fiat has turned its iconic 500 hatchback electric with an all-new model that will sit alongside its petrol 500.
Category:City Car
Key rival:Honda e
Efficiency:Range: 199 miles
On sale:Now

Fiat’s most iconic of cars has joined the electric revolution, with this new 500 coming only with electric power from a pair of battery sizes.

The smaller gives the 500e a pre-grant price entry point of £22,940 for the 24kWh 95hp car, which has a range figure of 118 miles.

The 42kWh and 118hp car comes in three trim levels, as well as hatch or, in what Fiat claims is an EV first, convertible shapes. That car has an official range of up to 199 miles, agonisingly close to the magical 200, and the larger battery will also charge at a faster rate if using a public charging point of over 50kWh.

First Drive - June 2021 - Fiat 500e - Image 7The petrol-powered 500, which first launched in 2008, will continue for the foreseeable future alongside the all-new electric version, and Fiat is keen to stress the difference between the two, with no components shared between them.

The 24kWh car is only available in entry Action trim, which comes with a smartphone holder rather than a touchscreen. The Passion spec on the 199-mile 42kWh car, which is a very reasonable £3500 jump for the extra range, performance and equipment, gets a 7.0-inch touchscreen, then the top Icon spec – another £1500 – has an impressive 10.25 screen among the additional kit. The Icon is expected to be the dominant choice, which is a logical prediction, looking at the line-up, especially with its larger touchscreen.

The cabin is all rather pleasant and characterful, although the driver’s seat could do with a height adjustment, and interior stowage spots are plentiful enough for a compact car. That same conclusion applies to the rear space, with the 500 just about able to house four adults, at a push, as long as they’re not too big.First Drive - June 2021 - Fiat 500e - Image 5

The performance is pretty sprightly given the modest powertrain, and the light steering combines with tiny turning circle to make the 500 feel well at home in its familiar urban setting. Given the short wheelbase, the ride is more than okay.

However, the boot space is a very tiny 185 litres, although that’s in the ballpark of the 171 for the Honda e and 211 for the Mini Electric, both of which cost at least £2000 more than the Fiat.

paul barker

First Drive: Volkswagen ID.3



The verdict

A really good reinvention, and electric power is very logical for the 500. It makes for a very credible small EV.