All-new electric Fiat 500 launched

Fiat waves goodbye to petrol power with its new electric 500 and this popular city car looks set to lose none of its chic in the process

James Wilson
Apr 29, 2020

The all new Fiat 500 is here and there are big changes afoot - namely, the fact the small Italian city car is now solely available as an electric car. Initially, Fiat’s new 500 will be offered in just one specification - that also happens to be a convertible - priced at just under £30,000, and it will come with a claimed range of 199 miles.

That's a huge amount of money for such a small car, but it's not too surprising when you consider the expense of the electric technology and the folding soft-top. Hopefully PCP finance rates will prove more affordable when the car goes on sale. City cars like the Fiat 500 are prime targets for electrification. They are rarely used for long journeys, have ample opportunity to plug-in around town and can also recuperate energy from the brakes during stop-start journeys.

To stand out from the crowd, Fiat’s new electric 500 looks set to up the plushness. A large central media display, simplistic dashboard and retro two-spoke steering wheel all hammer this stylish feel home. Fiat is also promising impressive levels of equipment and technology - such as adaptive cruise control, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality.

Those thinking that Fiat has jumped off the deep end by halting production of an affordable petrol-powered model need not panic, as the Italian carmaker has said it intends to continue manufacturing the older 500 until the end of 2021, at least. As this version of the 500 has been on sale for more than a decade, however, drivers after the best value 500 would be better off buying a much cheaper - but very similar - used Fiat 500.

Quick facts

  • Claimed range of 199 miles
  • One version available from launch
  • Priced from £29,000
  • Convertible only at launch
  • Up to 85kW charging
  • Top speed of 93mph

Electric Fiat 500 range and charge times

All electric Fiat 500s will come with a 42kWh battery pack. Fiat claims that this battery pack is sufficient to power the 500 to a range of 199 miles, based on the most recent - and most challenging fuel economy test, the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) which is significantly more accurate than the older format. As a result, while it may be a city car by name, it should be able to cope with long motorway trips too.

Fiat has stated that the 500’s electronics can handle up to 85kW power supplies for charging - the higher the figure, the faster charging is - although chargers with this capacity are rare and typically only available on commercial premises, such as at select service stations.

That said, when using an 85kW charge point, plugging in the 500 for five minutes is claimed to add around 30 miles of range to the battery. Using a 7kW wall box (the type that you could install at your house), the 500 can be fully charged in just over six hours.

Electric Fiat 500 performance

Powering Fiat’s new 500 is a 117hp electric motor, which, according to the Italian car manufacturer will allow its city car to hit 93mph flat out. Accelerating from a standstill to 62mph is claimed to take 9.0 seconds, meanwhile.

That's pretty nippy for a city car. The most powerful standard version of the outgoing petrol-powered Fiat 500 comes with 105hp and can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 10 seconds. That said, Fiat did make a number of sporty versions of the 500 that were branded as Abarth 595 models, which were much faster than this.

Electric Fiat 500 trims and specs

As it stands, Fiat has only confirmed one trim for the new 500 - it’s called La Prima, which translates to 'the first'. It will solely be available as a convertible, which is something of a unique selling point in itself, as electric convertibles are rare as hens’ teeth.

At a later date, Fiat is expected to expand its electric 500 offerings with more affordable trims and a regular hatchback body style that does without the folding roof. Moving back to La Prima models, though, there is a choice of three colours from launch - grey, green and blue.

Standard La Prima equipment includes LED headlights (with automatic high beam), 17-inch wheels, a raft of driver convenience tech (such as a rearview camera), a commemorative numbered plaque (for the first five-hundred models sold) and a 10.3-inch touchscreen media system.

On top of the above, there are three one-off special edition models designed by some of Italy’s most well-known brands - Giorgio Armani, Bulgari and Kartell. Highlights from the three include paintwork which has been treated by lasers (to give the impression of a fabric finish), silk-scarf seat inserts, removable amethyst, topaz and citrine steering wheel-mounted brooches and wheel caps made from recycled plastic.

These are little more than showcases of what the 500 can become, as these unique one-off creations will be auctioned off by Fiat, with the company donating the proceeds to charity. So don't get your hopes up for speccing up an identical model any time soon.

Electric Fiat 500 prices and deals

Prices for La Prima models are set to start at around £29,000 after the UK Government’s £3,000 plug-in car grant has been applied. While order books are open now, first deliveries are not expected until late 2020/early 2021.

To help sweeten the deal, Fiat is including its 'Easy Wallbox' charging setup for owners. Cash prices for more affordable specifications and hardtop versions are as yet unconfirmed, but expect Fiat to be quick to introduce strong value PCP finance options, as this is how most new cars are paid for - especially smaller, less expensive cars.

Electric Fiat 500 tech

The 10.3-inch touchscreen display on offer forms part of Fiat’s new UConnect 5 media system. UConnect 5 boasts wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality as well as sat-nav, car tracking and Wi-Fi hotspot features.

Also part of the UConnect 5’s box of party tricks is a supporting smartphone application, referred to as 'My Remote'. MyRemote allows users to adjust the 500’s climate control remotely - useful for cooling a cabin prior to setting off on a hot day - lock/unlock their vehicle, set a time for charging (which can result in making the most of cheaper electricity tariffs) and set sat-nav destinations.

Furthermore, Fiat’s new 500 is set to come with a host of autonomous technology, which while rare for the city car sector is increasingly common on electrified city cars. Nevertheless, the 500 will come with adaptive cruise control, lane centring, speed sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring and driver attention monitoring (if the car thinks you are tired, it will recommend that you stop). Here’s hoping it has good taste in restaurants.

There are a number of driving modes, too - Normal, Range and Sherpa. Range mode ups 'regenerative braking' - meaning the car slows more quickly when you lift off the throttle, adding charge back to the batteries - to maximise range per charge. Upping regenerative braking also means that drivers can, for the most part, drive using the accelerator pedal only, as you can bring the car to a reasonably prompt stop just by lifting off the throttle sharply.

Meanwhile, Sherpa mode is all about extending the 500's range by reducing power output and reigning in energy-sapping systems such as air-conditioning to reduce how much energy they drain from the batteries.

One final feature worth mentioning is the acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS) for driving at speeds of up to 12mph. AVAS is mandatory on all new electric cars sold in Europe but unlike some, which use rather uninspiring noises, the 500 comes with music taken from the soundtrack of an Italian comedy-drama - which could be rather fun. Or spectacularly annoying. We'll let you make up your own minds.

Electric Fiat 500 rivals and alternatives 

Before going any further, it is worth keeping in mind that all the quoted car prices below include the £3,000 grant offered by the UK government for buyers of plug-in electric cars. Fiat isn’t the first marque to electrify a small car (and it definitely won’t be the last) with Volkswagen, Honda, Mini and Seat all already in on the action.

Volkswagen, Seat and Skoda are all part of the same larger company, so share a platform upon which their respective city cars are made (hence them all looking mighty similar) and they recently announced electrified versions of all of them. In fact, Seat and Skoda now solely offer their city cars as all-electric vehicles - they are called the Mii electric and Citigo-e iV respectively.

The Volkswagen e-Up finishes off the trio and all models come with around 160 miles of range and start in the region of £17,500 to £20,000.

There are also rivals from the likes of Mini and Honda - the former recently launched the aptly named Mini Electric and the latter the Honda e. Both are a slight step up in size and cost over the likes of Skoda’s Citigo, with Mini costing from around £25,000 and the Honda around £26,000. There isn’t an increase in range, mind, with the Mini claiming 145 miles on a full charge and the e 137 miles.

That’s not it for rivals either. The long-reigning champion of the small electric car sector is the Renault Zoe, which is now in its second generation. It costs from around £26,000 and boasts an impressive range of 245 miles. Then there is the Peugeot e-208, Vauxhall Corsa-e, Smart EQ ForFour and BMW i3. In short, the Fiat 500 does not have the market to itself.

 

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