Fiat 500 small battery electric test: the perfect city car

Fiat writes this prominently on its website and in its advertisements. Your electric 500 starts at €109 per month. Quite attractive for this city car that has lost none of its charm when switching to electricity and is perfectly adapted for the city. To make this proposal, Fiat is based on the small battery version, which has 23.8 kWh of power and 190 km of autonomy. This reduces the entry price to €25,400 in the Action front bonus trim, against the €30,900 minimum for the top model (42 kWh battery and 320 km of range) in the Icon trim.

Fiat 500 electric price

The offer of €109 per month extends over a period of 37 months and 30,000 km. It is accessible without charge but requires a contribution of €2,500 excluding bonuses. This proposal, therefore, concerns the low-end model, which may be sufficient depending on the use of the car, but you must also be satisfied with the Quite simple action finish: no radio, no touchscreen and small 15-inch wheels. It’s better to go up on the Action Plus at €159 a month which gets a more modern endowment with Apple Carplay and Android Auto on the small touchscreen or reverse radar. (see equipment on page 2). Definitely the best deal in the range.

Fiat 500 electric RED with 23.8 kWh battery. Price before bonus: €28,400.

The RED finish of our test model is more elegant. The large 10.25” touchscreen, automatic climate control, soft-touch steering wheel, 16-inch rims and chrome window frames are standard. More beautiful but also more expensive: count €28,400 before a €6,000 bonus and a rent that rises to €175 per month The €109 pledge is getting smaller… and the difference will increase with each option checked, like metallic paint (the RED is not just red!) or the charging cable for public terminals (see list on page 2). However, there is a way to contain the monthly fee for this electric 500 by lowering the contract mileage, because 10,000 km per year for an electric city car with low autonomy is a lot.

driving

The electric Fiat 500 remains a Lilliputian with its size of 3.62 m, or 5 cm more than the petrol version still in the catalogue. It is worth remembering that the two models have nothing to do in terms of chassis and design. The new battery-powered model is designed on a modern platform dedicated to electric propulsion, while its thermal counterpart uses a chassis dating back to 2009. The small size obviously works wonders in the city, where the electric 500 is a delight to drive. Its 95 hp motor with an instantaneous torque of 220 Nm allows for quick starts and smooth evolutions. Maneuverability is ensured by a short turning radius (9.20 m) and smooth, precise steering.

fiat 500 paris electric

There are three driving modes: Normal, Range and Sherpa. They act on the power of the engine, therefore, on the recovery of energy when you lift your foot off the accelerator. The choice will mainly be made according to your desires between freewheeling in Normal mode, which is similar to driving a petrol car with automatic transmission, and driving with a pedal in Sherpa mode (the car stops without touching the brake). On the roughness of the bitumen, the damping is a little firm, as it is necessary to channel the body movements generated by the 182 kg of battery, but the small car is not uncomfortable. It really is the best Fiat 500, compared to a petrol version that suffers from rather fuzzy steering, less pleasant suspension and firmer front seats.

fiat 500 electric battery charging
fiat 500 electric charging time

Obviously, the limits of competence of this electric 500 are linked to its small battery of 23.8 kWh and 21.3 useful. No need to beat around the bush: you need a home charging solution to sustain your usage and avoid an exhaustive search for public terminals. During our test, we completed a course of 284 km over several days in the Paris region in very mild temperatures. Electricity consumption was 13.2 kWh/100 km; a result close to the advertised WLTP value. With this flow, autonomy is about 160 real km.

This radius of action is, however, sufficient for all those who mainly look around their house with their car. Of course, some “distant” escapes are always possible, with the possibility of sporadically recharging in direct current of 50 kW in a fast terminal to recover 80% of the battery in 30 minutes. But this is frankly not the vocation of this version. For greater versatility, it is better to opt for the 42 kWh model, with which we measure a real range on the road of 227 km.

On board

fiat 500 electric red panel
The Fiat 500 RED benefits from a large 10.25-inch touchscreen. The presentation is modern and crisp. Grip is facilitated by a good balance between physical buttons and touch controls.
fiat 500 electric autonomy
The counter benefits from an easy-to-read digital display.
fiat 500 electric power
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections are standard.

fiat 500 electric driving modes
The electric parking brake is not released automatically at start. Shame.
fiat 500 electric front seats
The front seats are better designed and more welcoming than those of the petrol Fiat 500.

fiat 500 electric rear seats
Unsurprisingly, the rear seats are measured.
trunk fiat 500
The trunk of the electric 500 is content with 185 l.


Competence

In terms of low-priced electric city cars, the Dacia Spring is obviously the wallet champion. Romanian is displayed for €18,690 in the Comfort finish with air conditioning, radio, Bluetooth and charging cable. Or €13,644 after bonuses, compared to €19,400 for the 500th Asset without gear. So there is no picture on the budget side in case of purchase, the former also benefiting from a slightly greater autonomy. But let’s face it, the Fiat 500e is much more attractive, more pleasant to drive and more reassuring. The brand is also strong with its long-term rental offerings. Between Fiat and Dacia comes the Renault Twingo ZE. Priced at €17,150 with a bonus on the entry-level Authentic, it has equipment as sparse as the 500th Active (no radio, no air conditioning).

Find the test results, data sheet and equipment on the next page.

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