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Iconic FIAT 500 goes all-electric.

Iconic FIAT 500 goes all-electric.

The Fiat 500 was reinvented for the modern age back in 2007, and now the latest generation of the iconic city car is available exclusively with electric power. The new 500e is the first fully-electric car produced by Fiat, and it competes against rival EV city cars such as the Honda e, Renault Zoe, Opel Corsa-e and the Peugeot e-208.

Smoother, Cooler & More Simplified.

Fiat’s exterior design team has made the new 500 look smoother, cooler and more simplified than before, with the old car’s headlights replaced by two semi-circular lights that give the car a distinctive character. The new 500 is marginally longer and wider than its predecessor, and it is available in a traditional 3-door hatchback body style as well as a convertible with a folding fabric roof. The elegant interior of the new 500 brings the car right up-to-date in terms of infotainment and safety technology. There is a new 7-inch digital display instead of the traditional dials of old, and a big 10.25-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring situated on top of the dashboard. The physical controls for the heating and air-conditioning are grouped together under the central touchscreen, with the Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive buttons intuitively located side-by-side at the bottom of the dashboard. A storage compartment with an integrated drinks holder is located between the two front seats, and this is where you will find the electronic parking brake button, along with volume controls for the audio system and an e-Mode selector switch. In a nod to the past, a dedicated ‘500’ logo adorns the stylish steering wheel, and is reshaped to recall the essential style of the two-spoke steering wheel found in the original Fiat 500 in 1957. The innovative and sustainable seats in the new 500 are made with Seaqual™ yarn containing upcycled marine plastic and they look durable enough to last the test of time. Space in the front is good for two adults, but it is still a tight squeeze for anyone other than children in the back. The 185-litre boot space in the new 500 is big enough for the average weekly shopping trips, but the split-folding rear seats can be folded down to accommodate larger items when required.

Trim & Battery Options.

Trim levels in the new Fiat 500e consist of entry-level Action, mid-spec Icon and range-topping La Prima in the hatchback body style, while buyers of the convertible can choose between Icon and La Prima trims. The Action variant is powered by a ‘City Range’ 24kW battery which produces 93bhp and has a combined range of up to 190km. Powering the Icon and La Prima variants is a ‘Long Range’ 42kW battery with 118bhp and an official combined range of up to 320km. Both batteries come with fast charging capability, and this allows for a 0-80% charge in as little as 30 minutes (24kW) or 35 minutes (42kW). A full charge (0-100%) via a domestic wallbox charger can be completed in two and a half hours for the 24kW battery and four and a quarter hours for the larger 42kW unit.

Test Car.

My test car was a new 500e Icon (42kW) which was finished in Ice White paintwork with stylish multi-spoke 16” Burnished alloy wheels. Key standard equipment includes a DAB radio, Uconnect Services, LED daytime-running lights, automatic air-conditioning, navigation, eco-leather steering wheel, electric windows, keyless entry & start, rain sensor, cruise control, and 85kW fast-charging capability, along with a suite of safety features that includes Attention Assist, Lane Control, Traffic Sign Recognition, and E-call emergency call function. Upgrading to La Prima trim will add LED headlamps, 17” alloy wheels, chromed side mouldings, eco-leather seats, Fiat Co-Driver (Assisted Driving Level 2), wireless charger, 360-degree drone view & rear view camera, and Urban Blind Spot Detection. The car is capable of completing a 0-100km/h sprint in 9-seconds and the instant acceleration on offer, along with suitably light steering, makes the car super-easy to control. There is enough power available for safe overtaking, and the car never feels short of punch around town, but even on a motorway, the car feels right at home. The 500e strikes a good balance between ride and handling, and there is a lovely control and predictability to the way it drives. The 500e starts every journey in ‘Normal’ mode, but there’s also a ‘Range’ mode that steps up the regenerative braking to one-pedal strength if you want to get more from the battery. For the ultimate in efficiency there is also the ‘Sherpa Mode’, which limits you to 80km/h, turns the air-conditioning off and has an even stronger regen effect.

Verdict & Pricing.

Overall, the new all-electric Fiat 500 is a well-rounded and accomplished city car, and it is exciting to drive too. Decent real-world range, good levels of standard equipment, easy charging options, and head-turning looks combine to great effect in the new 500e. Pricing for the new Fiat 500e starts at €25,995 with my test car specification priced at €29,995. Prices quoted exclude dealer delivery-related charges, and are inclusive of a VRT rebate and SEAI Grant for private buyers.

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