This is the Fiat 500 e, the first full-electric model in Fiat history. Its looks are a nod to the original 1957 Fiat 500 with the incorporation of quintessential design cues paired with a modern electric experience that has been 100% designed, engineered and manufactured in Turin, Italy to European environmental standards.
The launch edition of the Fiat 500 e is only available for one trim level only for now, ‘La Prima’ directly translating from Italian to ‘The First’ in English. You can choose from one of six colours, all inspired by nature: Ice White (standard), Onyx Black, Ocean Green, Mineral Grey, Rose Gold (optional $700) and Celestial Blue (optional $1,600). My favourite colours were the Rose Gold and Celestial Blue and I thought the LED day running light ‘eyebrows’ on the hood were just too cute. The full EV nature of the new Fiat 500e is clearly identified by the logo on the liftgate, carrying also a distinctive light blue accent colour. The new 500 logo has been designed to introduce the “e” into the well-known 500 logo. The same logo is also visible in the side at the back end of the daylight opening moulding.
Powering the 500 e is a 42kWh high voltage lithium-ion battery pack and in Europe the Fiat 500 e is certified to a range of 311km. When I get to spend a longer time with the 500 e in early 2024, I will have a better understanding of what the real-world range is like for me.
It has three different charging modes and is equipped with a CCS COMBO Type 2 socket that enables both domestic AC and DC fast charging at a rate of 85kW in dedicated public stations. DC fast charging at a rate of 85kW is offered as standard with a 0-80% charge capable in a claimed 35 minutes. The location of public charging stations is displayed on the built-in satellite navigation with information showing if the charger is AC or DC, but not if it is currently available for use.
The Fiat 500 e is equipped with a front-mounted electric motor outputting 87kW with an e-mode selector on the central console enabling the driver to select three different driving modes: Normal, Range & Sherpa. It has a peak torque output of 220Nm, enough to push the new 500 from 0-100km/h in 9.0 seconds.
This might sound slow, but it was enough for zipping through urban traffic and to have some fun along the twisty roads, on my recent drive to the idyllic retreat called Guestlands. The ride comfort of the 500 e was as pleasant as the four course Italian lunch that was enjoyed in the al fresco dining area amongst the beautiful gardens of the Guestlands estate.
Unique to the e-powertrain, the vehicle features no transmission tunnel through the middle of the vehicle increasing available floor space and allowing for a new organised central console. It incorporates a deep storage pocket between the two seats for a taller drink bottle and one cup holder at the front of the centre console. The driver’s side footwell did feel cramped, even for me, so those with larger feet will most likely notice this more.
The inside of the Fiat 500e has been just as thoughtfully designed as it’s outside with great focus on the quality of fit and finish. Occupants will immediately recognise a contemporary interpretation of the timeless style reflected by some unique design cues, including the classic Fiat dashboard insert, the two-spoke steering wheel and the rounded cluster make a clear connection with the 1957 original 500. An unmistakable 500 glass roof comes standard with the Fiat 500e and fills the interior with light, but if you need some shade form the Australian sun there is also a retractile curtain that can be pulled over.
Paying homage to the birthplace of the Fiat 500e the new wireless charging pad, conveniently positioned under the 10.25” infotainment system, features the Turin skyline. In this cubby there is one USB-A port and within the centre console there is one USB-C port and a 12V socket.
Then there are the small touches that will make you smile, like the tune that the 500 e plays on start-up, the push button to open the doors, and the ‘Fiat’ stitched into the seat upholstery. Both of the front seats are heated with manual adjustment for recline and forward/back and the driver’s seat also gets height adjustment. There is a lower ISOFix anchorage and a top tether anchorage fitted to the front passenger seat.
There is not much room in the back seats, but there are another two ISOFix/two rear tether child seat restraint points. ANCAP noted that space in the second row of the Fiat 500e is limited, and installation of typical child restraints available in New Zealand showed that several of the selected child restraints – particularly those installed with soft ISOFix attachments – could not be safely installed in rear seating positions. Boot space is also limited, but what you would expect in a small vehicle like this.
The Fiat 500 e has a 4-star (2021) ANCAP safety rating with dual frontal, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting (curtain) airbags fitted as standard. The Adult Occupant Protection score is 78% (29.66 out of 38) and the Child Occupant Protection score is 79% (38.76 out of 49).
Fiat 500e features Autonomous Driving Level 2 as standard. A forward-looking camera, located behind the internal rear-view mirror, supports longitudinal and lateral control of the vehicle, performing intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Centering. ANCAP tests of the autonomous emergency braking (AEB) (Car-to-Car) system showed an overall performance level of MARGINAL with collisions avoided at the lower test speeds, and mitigated in the higher test speeds. The AEB system does not react when turning across the path of an oncoming vehicle, and hence AEB Junction Assist tests were not conducted. ANCAP tests of lane support system functionality showed some GOOD performance, including in several of the more critical emergency lane keeping test scenarios and the overall ANCAP Safety Assist score is 67%.
The La Prima launch specifications also incorporate a rear-view parking camera, blind spot monitor, autonomous emergency brake control with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane control, attention assist, intelligent speed assistant with traffic sign recognition, tyre pressure monitoring system, automatic headlamp on, seat belt reminder, high-beam assist and rain sensing wipers.
All new eligible Fiat vehicles come with a three year or 150,000km (whichever comes first) factory warranty. In addition, the Fiat 500e has an 8 year/160,000km warranty on the high voltage battery. The 500 e’s service schedule is every 12 months/15,000kms, whichever comes first, with the first eight services capped at $250 per service.
Priced from $52,500 excluding on-road charges, the La Prima Fiat 500e is not be one of the cheapest EVs currently on the Australian market. But when you are weighing up the price against other EVs ask yourself ‘at what cost does a cheap EV come?’ Visit your preferred Fiat dealer for more information about the super cute Fiat 500 e.
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.