28.9.2021Fiat 500 24 kWh review
Fiat’s 500 is reborn as an electric-only model, and it’s a big deal. The iconic (an oft-overused word, but not in relation to models such as the Fiat or Mini) 500 is a big seller across Europe, a fashionable choice for drivers, and now an EV. It’s already flying off the shelves in Italy, and the 500e is becoming increasingly common to see on UK roads. Available with a choice of two battery sizes, it’s the cheaper, shorter-range, 500 24 kWh model tested here.
Review by Chris Lilly
FIAT 500 24 KWH: PERFORMANCE
The Fiat 500 City comes with a 70 kW (95 hp) electric motor, which drives the front wheels. Performance is not too impressive on paper, but that’s not really the point of the compact Fiat. A 0-62mph sprint can be completed in 9.5 seconds, with a top speed of 84mph theoretically achievable. However, the 500 is designed for urban driving, and performance at lower speeds is brisk. The natural characteristics of the electric motor complement town driving perfectly, and the 220 Nm of torque makes swift work of short bursts of acceleration.
That said, the 500 City manages to deal with motorway driving easily enough. There isn’t much room above the national speed limit in terms of excess performance, but it sits at 70mph or slower comfortably, with no huge detriment to range.
With a 42 kWh battery, the Fiat 500 feels like a fairly weighty city car, but the smaller 24 kWh pack helps with this… well, issue is far too strong a word; but the weight is certainly lower. The 500 City concedes a little over 100kg to the Long Range model, which benefits the handling nicely.
Combine this with a low centre of gravity, wheels pushed into the corner, and suspension designed for urban routes, and the Fiat 500 is a nippy and nimble little machine. It’s great fun to drive even at 30mph, and although it can’t quite compete with rivals such as the Mini Electric or Honda e in terms of outright driving enjoyment, there will be very few complaints from buyers as to how it handles.
Although the 500 is available in either hatchback or convertible versions, the 24 kWh model is only available as a hatch. It’s the classic 500 shape, but modern, sharper, and with some neat design details both inside and out.
Interior space is tight both in the rear seats and the boot, so don’t expect the 500 to be a practical family model - but then it never has been. The emphasis on design means that practicality is sacrificed, and this must be taken into consideration. You can fit a couple of children in the rear seats easily enough, and the boot will deal with daily tasks fine.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The Fiat’s cabin is a significant change over the previous model, and all for the better. Little Turin-inspired features and references to the original 500 are dotted about, the materials used are nice even in base spec here, and the kit is improved too.
This entry-level model has no infotainment screen, instead relying on a Fiat 500 app, which links with your phone’s native apps for music, navigation, charging information, connecting with the car’s Bluetooth system to blend with the systems. The phone sits in a cradle, and it works well, if a little basically. Still, this is the basic model, and higher up the range, integrated screens appear.
FIAT 500 24 KWH: RANGE & RUNNING COSTS
Fitted with the 24 kWh battery, the Fiat 500 has an official driving range of 118 miles on a charge (WLTP Combined). It’s a reliable figure too, with that range almost achievable at motorway speeds. Regular long runs brought about a decent average of a mile per percent on the motorway, and mixing in more A-roads or town driving brings that official range easily within reach.
The official city range is 159 miles on a charge, which is also achievable, but most drivers are likely to reach around 130-140 miles on a charge with a blend of faster roads and town driving. It’s an efficient EV, and one that is simple to drive.
Charging the Fiat 500 is carried out using the CCS inlet for top ups. AC charging can be carried out at up to 11 kW, which will take around two and a half hours, or a bit over three on a 7 kW point. DC charging will take around half an hour on a 50 kW unit to 80%.
Brake energy recuperation is nicely set up in the Fiat, with three driving modes - Normal, Range, and Sherpa. The latter two provide ‘one-pedal’ driving opportunities, with strong regeneration, whilst Normal offers slight brake energy recuperation. Switching between Normal and Range can easily maximise driving range, and helps make the 500 an efficient machine.
The Action trim is Fiat’s entry level model across the 500 range, and includes a smartphone cradle with integration systems, 15-inch steel wheels, fabric seats, keyless start, 7-inch digital instrument cluster, air conditioning, electric windows, rear parking sensors, charging at up to 50 kW DC, and safety systems such as lane keep assist and autonomous emergency braking.
FIAT 500 24 KWH: MODEL SUMMARY
The previous Fiat 500 was a fun and fashionable choice of city car. The new model is better in every detail. It’s better looking, has a good driving range, and includes that essential fun-to-drive element. It’s not practical, but that’s the only criticism really, and many people interested in the 500 will not be worried about that. An excellent city car, made better by being electric.
Model tested: Fiat 500 City 24 kWh
Body-style: City car
Engine / CO2: 70 kW electric motor - 0 g/km
Trim grades: Action
On-road price: from £20,995.
Warranty: Three years / Unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.5 Stars