We tested the electric Fiat 500. The small Italian city car keeps its retro charm, but is clearly looking to the future.
This is the 2nd generation of the modern Fiat 500. Same hot, but new car: 96% new parts, 100% electric propulsion with a large battery and 2020 generation infotainment. Our test in the heart of his birthplace, Turin.
Technical sheet of the electric Fiat 500
A timeless design
The timeless design of the modernized Fiat 500 has been so popular since its launch in 2007 that it has not only given the chic little Italian city car an ultra-long career of 13 years (double the normal life cycle of a car), but it is used in its large widths for its brand new electric version. To the point that you have to place them next to each other to realize the evolution achieved, while retaining the immediate sympathy given by his unique little face. Its eldest is also continuing its path in micro-hybrid versions.
The charm of the new 500 therefore always acts as well, despite its increased dimensions, with +6 cm in length, or 3.61 m and +6 cm in width. It stands out especially for details such as its LED headlight eyelids, its raised side indicators and its hollowed door handles. The logo is now a big “500”, exhibited as a brand in its own right.
The iconic silhouette is available in a sedan, in a convertible version and in an original 3 + 1 derivative with a mini rear right door offering better access to the small rear seats, to be reserved for children. In any case, the boot is as tight as in the previous generation, with only 185 liters of volume.
On the other hand, in the front seats, with 5 cm more width and an elegant dashboard without center console, you feel perfectly at ease. The first impression is almost premium, but we quickly find rather low-end plastics and buttons. No matter, here is an original and flattering city car, with excellent ergonomics and, in our trial version, a magnificent 10.25-inch screen which sits in the middle of the dashboard.
Next generation connectivity
The brand new UConnect 5 infotainment system was produced alongside Harman and Magneti Marelli, with TomTom for navigation with traffic information and the possibility of remote updates for the whole. It is based on Android Automotive (it is one of the first cars on the market to introduce it with the electric Volvo XC40), offers very modern graphics and magnificent GPS navigation that is both quick to program and efficient in its use. guidance, very precise. It is easy to personalize the home screen, everything is done very instinctively and the responsiveness of the whole is appreciable. It is true that the car, as technological as it is, is presented as having to be ” as easy as an iPhone ». Successful bet.
Note the easy integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wireless as well as the presence of an integrated virtual assistant as well as Alexa. In a Wi-Fi hotspot, the car can connect up to 8 devices, even if one wonders the usefulness of so many connections in such a small car …
Fortunately, the air conditioning controls remain entrusted to physical buttons for more direct interventions. The instrumentation behind the steering wheel is displayed on a very clear 7-inch screen, with a cursor recalling the level of energy expended instantly or, on the contrary, the recovery.
An anti-stress battery
Fiat boss (French) Olivier François recalls the three main barriers he sees when buying an electric car, knowing that 90% of potential customers have never tried one before: autonomy, recharging and the “nerd” aspect. For this last point, we have just seen the effort on the onboard interface. And for the other two, the brand has spared no effort.
The smaller battery (Samsung) of 23.7 kWh (180 km of WLTP range) is dedicated to the base model, but many customers will rather go for the generous 42 kWh battery of the other versions, guaranteeing an excellent radius of production. action of 320 km before recharging, or even more than 400 km in town, its natural environment. What to drive all week without recharging for many users.
For recharging, count 9:15 a.m. to go from 40 to 100% on a domestic outlet and 2:35 a.m. on a public AC terminal of 11 kW. If you opt for an 85 kW DC fast charging station, it is then possible to gain 48 km in just 5 minutes. To find happiness, Fiat offers an application to locate a charging point, reserve it and pay for the energy consumed. An RFID card is provided, free for the first year.
Fiat offers a clever rewinder for the charging cable and, for home charging, a 2.4 kW Easy Wallbox to install yourself (499 euros), or 7 kW (1,149 euros). An 11 kW Wallbox will cost 1,500 to 2,000 euros.
Packages de solutions
Fiat is banking on new modes of consumption for this model and will set up its first stores dedicated to mobility Leasys Mobility Store in France in 2021. Rental, pay per use with Leasys Miles, possibility of car sharing with the Leasys Go app, access to My Dream Garage to have a thermal car for a weekend or a vacation (from the small Fiat 500 X 124 SUV to the Maserati Levante, including the Ducato utility vehicle: many options are on the program).
Prices start at 24,500 euros with the small battery (23.7 kWh) and 27,500 euros with the large 42 kWh battery (excluding the ecological bonus of 7,000 euros, then 6,000 euros from July 1, 2021). For the convertible version, count 3,400 euros more, or 2,000 euros for the 3 + 1. But be careful, all the equipment accessible in this car is not standard.
Depending on the trim level, including the options, prices rise quickly and a Passion version (1st level with the 42 kWh battery) with all the driving aids combined in the Co-pilot pack (2,000 euros), alloy rims (550 euros), an induction charger (200 euros) and a metallic paint (600 euros) comes close to 31,000 euros before bonus – very expensive for a small city car …
Fortunately, behind the wheel, we are not at all disappointed by this first foray of the Italian manufacturer into the world of electricity. Forgotten, the antediluvian platform of the previous model which dates from the Panda 2! At the same time efficient, precise and comfortable, the electric 500 plays as much on the rutted streets of the capital of Piedmont as on its highways, with an excellent level of silence, hardly disturbed when it sets off by the magnificent nostalgic music signed Nino Rota in the film Armarcord (F. Fellini). Italians definitely have a sense ofgimmicksympathetic marketing.
The 118 hp and 220 Nm of torque of the engine are enough to take this rather light car for an electric (1.4 tons) with liveliness, but in a compromise aimed at user comfort rather than accelerations that stick to the seat, and c so much the better. Even on wet ground, traction is efficient and we quickly take pleasure in driving this car, which can be driven in a very natural way.
In town, we immediately adopted single-pedal driving which generates strong decelerations when lifting the foot: delicacy is required. A downside, the car will go to a complete stop, but there, a little sudden is felt. Another complaint, the amount of windshield and the large mirror hamper visibility a little.
The driving aids allow, like the models of the higher categories, a level 2 semi-autonomous assistance, with longitudinal support (adaptive regulator with driving function in stop & go traffic jams) and lateral (centering in the queue) very efficient and natural. A maturity that makes it a very successful model and allows it to face the Mini Cooper SE and Honda e without shuddering, or even the Twingo Electric with the small battery version.