► It's an all new Fiat 500!
► Chic looks updated, new tech underneath
► Claimed 200-mile range is ahead of rivals
Fiat has joined the EV city car race with a new battery-only version of the 500. According to Fiat, it’s the company’s first electric car, and although it’s blessed with similar styling to what has come before, the third-generation 500 is described as a clean-sheet car – more that can be said for the Mini Electric it’s up against.
It joins the recently-launched mild-hybrid 500 in bringing Italy’s favourite small car on sale today fully up-to date. As well as becoming a fully-fledged EV in its own right, the 500 Electric is said to be the first open-topped four-seater EV on sale today.
The new styling is same-again despite what Fiat says, but the new flush headlights and tidied-up front end give the 500 a much cleaner look. Sat on its new platform, it’s 6cm wider and 6cm longer, and has a 2cm-lengthened wheelbase. So, it’s no longer quite the tiddler it was. The good news is that although it might be less wieldy in town, it’s certainly bigger inside.
So, how good an electric car is it?
Although rivals Honda and MINI play down city-car EV range with their new entrants, in an attempt to justify their 120-mile (ish) distance-to-empty figures, Fiat has ensured that those with range anxiety won’t have anything to moan about with the new 500 Electric. It comes with a 42kWh battery for a 200-mile range in official WLTP testing, and it’s quick to top up thanks to a built-in 85kW fast charger.
How quick will it recharge? Fiat says that if you plug it into a fast charger, it’ll take just five minutes add 30 miles of range, and to take it from (near-) empty to 80% takes 35 minutes. Covering all bases, it can be charged via AC or DC.
Performance is typically peppy in an EV-sort of way. The maximum power is 117bhp (87kW), and that makes it one of the quicker-accelerating 500s you can buy. The 0-62mph time is 9.0 seconds, and 0-30mph takes a hot hatch-like 3.1 seconds. Maximum speed is limited to 87mph.
What other tech do you get?
Although it’s primarily a city car, the 500 Electric comes with the option intelligent adaptive cruise control, which combines automatic lane-keeping and a pre-defined distance between you and the car ahead. That’s great news for those who rack up miles on the motorway – we’ll see how many people take up the option.
There are also other big car-style features such as blind spot monitoring, Autonomous Emergency Braking and 360-degree parking assist. The 10.25in infotainment system is now fully connected, and based on the Android operating system. Want to plug in your smartphone? You get Apple Carplay or Android Auto as well.
Designed for home charging
If you buy the launch edition of the Fiat 500 Electric, you get a free wallbox thrown in – and has plenty of connected tech, so you can manage your ‘plug and charge’ set-up via Bluetooth. The advantage of Fiat’s homcharger is that you don’t need to have it professionally installed – it comes with 3kW out of the box.
For those with decent wiring at home, the wallbox can be upgraded to 7.4kW, allowing you to fully charge the 500 Electric in a little over six hours. The 500 Electric also comes with a Mode 3 cable for charging at up to 11kW from a public charge point.
Anything else you need to know?
As per usual in an EV, it comes with various drive modes designed to harvest the maximum amount of distance you can get out of it. You have Normal, Range and Sherpa – with the latter being focused on getting the best from you battery, including a nav program that limits maximum speed to 50mph and reins in acceleration.
Normal is, er, ‘normal’ to drive, while the Range mode equates to a one-pedal drive, with lots of regeneration when you take your foot off the accelerator.
How much is it and when can I buy one?
We’re not sure on the UK price yet, but we do know that the 500 Electric will be initially available in La Prima Convertible launch edition, which gets LED headlights, eco-leather upholstery and 17in alloys as standard. As per usual, the launch edition will be limited in numbers – in this case, 500.
The La Prima Convertible comes in at €37,900 (£32,970) in Italy, and UK pricing will be announced later.