The Fiat 500e is the first full-electric model in Fiat history and is 100% designed, engineered and manufactured in Turin, Italy. In Australia the 500e is available in just one spec, La Prima, and this is my favourite colour out of the six available; it’s called Rose Gold.
Exclusive to the 500e are the diamond cut, glossy black 17” alloy wheels that go very nicely with the pink hue of my 500e. While the other design elements that are exclusive to the 500e include the very cute LED day running lights that look like eyebrows on the hood and at the front of the 500e Fiat have incorporated an “e” into the 500 logo.
Remaining true to its traditional small hatchback proportions the Fiat 500 Electric is the perfect city car, being only slightly wider (~+56mm) and longer (+61mm) than the Fiat 500 to accommodate the lithium-ion battery pack. The ride in the zippy 500e is comfortable enough, but can be a bit bouncy over bumps because of its short wheelbase.
The 42kWh high voltage lithium-ion battery pack is manufactured by Samsung SDI in Hungary. As such these batteries are subject to the European Council’s new regulation that aim to promote a circular economy by regulating batteries throughout their life cycle. The regulation establishes end-of-life requirements, including collection targets and obligations, targets for the recovery of materials and extended producer responsibility. They also provide for mandatory minimum levels of recycled content for industrial, SLI batteries and EV batteries. These are initially set at 16% for cobalt, 85% for lead, 6% for lithium and 6% for nickel.
The front-mounted electric motor in the Fiat 500e is paired with a Single Speed Reduction Gear transmission driving the front wheels. The motor produces 87kW of power and 220Nm of torque and this will accelerate the 1.3 tonne 500e from 0-100km/h in 9.0 seconds and on to a maximum speed of 150km/h. The e-mode selector on the central console enables the driver to select three different driving modes: Normal, Range, and Sherpa. I spent most of my time driving in Normal mode and used 15.5kW/100km giving me a maximum range of around 270km. The claimed energy consumption is 14.4kW/100km and a WLTP range of 311km.
Charging is undertaken using 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 completes a 0-80% charge in a claimed 35 minutes and using 11kW AC charging Fiat claims a 0-100% charge will take 4hours and 15 minutes. The 500e only comes standard with the Mode 2 cable charge cable, so if you want to charge at home using a standard household AC plug, as I did, you will need to purchase a Mode 3 cord from JET Charge. The charge port is located at the rear of the vehicle on the driver’s side and when you attach the cord it makes a locking sound and the green lights next to the plug indicate that charging is occurring and its progress, with the driver’s dash displaying the time remaining for your charge.
Smart keyless entry is available on both doors, but when you lock the 500e there is no noise to indicate that the vehicle has locked. I found this a bit disconcerting and I kept checking to make sure that it had actually locked. I did work out though that the blinkers flash once when the vehicle is locked and twice when it is unlocked. To exit the 500e you press the e-Latch door button or there is another release latch lower down should the button not work for some reason.
I like that you have to press the start button in the 500e rather than it being ‘always on’ like some other electric vehicles and that when you do this the Fiat plays a little tune for you. I don’t like the small footwell on the driver’s side as it’s tight for me, so people with larger feet may find it even more uncomfortable. There are nods to the 500e’s Italian heritage on the interior with the Turin city skyline embossed on the wireless charge pad and ‘Made in Torino’ pressed into the plastic in the door pull.
The classic Fiat dashboard insert, the two-spoke steering wheel and the rounded cluster make a clear connection with the 1957 original 500. But behind the steering wheel you get a 7” full digital cluster that displays all the information that you will need. A fixed panoramic glass roof comes standard with the Fiat 500e and fills the interior with light, but the retractile curtain is transparent so you can’t block out the sun completely and you will get a hot head on a typical summer’s day. Thankfully then the single zone climate control is capable of adequately cooled the cabin on those hot days.
The seats and door trims are covered with Ice beige eco-leather with FIAT monogram stitched into them, which is a nice touch. Both front seats are heated and have manual adjustment for recline and forward/back with the driver also getting manual seat height adjustment.
There’s no transmission tunnel through the middle of the vehicle increasing available floor space and allowing for a new organised central console to provide a storage option for everything. Tall slim drink bottles can be placed in the centre console cup holder and at the front of the console is a flip out cup holder with grippy sides. The drink bottle storage cubbies in the front doors are only suitable for small bottles and the slim shallow cubby behind them and seems a bit pointless because you can’t get your hand down into it when the doors are closed.
Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come as standard or there’s wired connection available via the USB-A port located on the ledge under the 10.25” central touchscreen. The wireless Android Auto does connect easily, but did drop out on me a few times while I was driving. In the centre console area, there is also another USB-A port, one USB-C port and a 12V socket and wireless charging for the key fob.
Voice control can be used to access some of the infotainment menus and is activated by pressing the button on the steering wheel with the masculine looking silhouette on it. The voice control worked well for me for making phone calls, changing the radio station, and setting a destination on the sat nav. The sat nav can also show you charging locations from multiple different charging companies and when you clink on the location for more information it gives you supply type and other information, but does not indicate if the charger is available or not.
To access the rear seats, you pull the lever on the shoulder of the front seat and slide it forward and the gap that opens up was big enough for me to get into the back seats. But in reality, the rear seats are not suitable for adults to sit back there with head and leg room both being tight for me and my knees were also sitting up high. If you really had to you could fit three smallish adults in the 500e with one in the back with the passenger seat slid forward to give the maximum amount of leg room and the driver. There are mats in the rear foot wells, but not over the transmission tunnel and there are no rear air vents or USB ports.
There are two ISOFix/two rear tether child seat restraint points in the rear seats and a third restraint point on the passenger side seat. 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.
The boot has a power assisted tailgate and enough space for a small weekly shop. There is a tyre repair kit placed in a bag that is stored in the boot and under the boot floor is storage for your charge cable. If more space is required the rear seats have a 50:50 split fold mechanism with the release of the seat shoulders.
The Fiat 500e 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).
Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Centering are included on the 500e and the La Prima launch specifications also incorporates a rear-view parking camera with front and rear parking sensors, 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, high-beam assist and rain sensing wipers.
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%.
All new eligible Fiat vehicles come with a three year or 150,000km (whichever comes first) factory warranty and three year’s roadside assistance. In addition, the Fiat 500e has an 8 year/160,000km warranty on the high voltage battery. The service schedule is every 12 months/15,000kms, whichever comes first, with the first eight services capped at $250 per service.
The Fiat 500e La Prima is one of only a few EVs in the Australian car market that is built entirely in Europe to their environmental standards giving this rose an even sweeter scent. It’s priced from $52,500 excluding on-road charges and as tested with the optional Rose Gold premium paint ($700) this 500e cost $53,200 plus on-roads. You can price your Fiat 500e online or visit your preferred Fiat dealer for more information.
|It’s perfect for city driving
|The transparent blind over the sunroof
|The cute design features
|Doesn’t make a noise when you lock it
|It’s made in Europe to their environmental standards
|Doesn’t come standard with a Mode 3 charge cord
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.