Late in electrification of its range, the FCA group has chosen the iconic 500 to launch its electric offensive. Both chic and trendy, the little Italian has serious advantages in the face of increasingly fierce competition.
While the electric Fiat 500 has already been available in California since 2012, it was not until 2020 and the arrival of new CO2 standards that the manufacturer decided to invest in the European market. Far from wanting to show off, the Italian brand has decided to start from scratch by offering a 100% electric turn to its city car. Still in the catalog, the classic petrol and diesel versions from the previous generation should thus disappear within two years.
The architecture of this new Fiat 500 is therefore unique and above all designed for electrics. Compared to its predecessor, this third generation is at the same time longer (3.63 m), higher (1.53 m) and wider (1.75 m). Without breaking the typical silhouette of the model, the design has also evolved with new optics, handles integrated into the body and a solid grille in the center of which sits the 500 logo topped by two chrome rods.
Inside, you can enjoy a large touchscreen compatible with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. 100% digital, the instrumentation is quite complete, with the steering wheel controls allowing you to navigate between the different menus. As with the exterior, the styling is very neat and full of small details such as the “Made in Torino” integrated into the doors, the 500 inlay on the seats or the small electric button to open the door.
The navigation system displays nearby charging stations
When it comes to livability, the Fiat 500 is a strict 4-seater. Offering enough elbow room but little for the legs, the two rear seats are reserved for children or small adults. The trunk is in the standard of the category. It accumulates 185 liters and has a small double bottom to accommodate the charging cable.
Under the hood
If the new 500 electric is also available with a small battery of 27 kWh, it is the large pack of 42 kWh, including 37.3 useful, that we were able to take in hand for this first test. Promising more than 300 km of autonomy, it is coupled to a 118 horsepower and 120 Nm engine placed on the front axle.
When it comes to recharging, the little Italian is quite versatile. Configured in 11 kW, the on-board three-phase charger allows a complete recharge in approximately 4 hours. On the fast charge side, count 35 minutes for an 80% recharge via the Combo standard in 85 kW.
A lively and well-balanced drive
At the wheel, the Italian is more lively than the Twingo ZE. Restricted to 150 km / h, it ensures 0 to 100 km / h in 9 seconds where its competitor to the diamond, limited to 135 km / h, performs the same exercise in 12.9 seconds. With 9.7 m of turning radius, it is however a little less manoeuvrable than the Twingo which remains the queen of the market with 8.6 m.
Well balanced in the corners, the electric Fiat 500 benefits from a steering that is both light and responsive. This is enough to forgive a few small tremors in terms of damping which are justified by both the short wheelbase and the presence of 17-inch rims.
Designed for the city, the new electric 500 is also comfortable on the highway. The 118 horsepower of its electric motor allows it to fit easily into traffic lanes. On the other hand, air noises are more present as the speed increases.
Normal, Range and Sherpa … In use, the driver can choose from three driving modes. Sherpa mode favors performance while the Range is similar to an Eco mode. By limiting performance under acceleration, this also enhances the effect of the engine braking. Well marked, the device slows the car to a stop. Enough to consider one-pedal driving for those who are keen on the economy.
When it comes to battery life, the 17 ’’ version of our test model is not the most economical. In the WLTP cycle, its range is estimated at 312 km. That’s 8 km less than the entry-level 15 ’’ which promises up to 320 km. In reality, it will be better to count on 200 to 250 km depending on the type of driving. In consumption, we achieved an average of 16.4 kWh / 100 km. A value close to the 14.4 kWh / 100 km announced by the manufacturer.
From 24.500 €
In terms of prices, the electric Fiat 500 starts from € 24,500 excluding bonuses but it will be necessary to be satisfied with the small battery. At 27 kWh, it offers only 185 km of autonomy. The 42 kWh versions start from € 27,500 excluding bonus, while the Icone Plus finish of our test model climbs to € 31,500.
Compared to the competition, this small electric 500 finds its place on the micro-city car market where it fits between the electric Twingo, less expensive (€ 21,500) but also less efficient, and the Mini Cooper SE, more sporty with a base price of € 37,600. Another advantage of the Turin city car over its competitors: its wide choice of bodywork. Apart from the “sedan” configuration of our test model, the little Italian is also available in Cabriolet versions and in 3 + 1 with doors opening antagonistically.