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Car Review

Fiat 500 review

£27,590 - £30,590
710
Published: 19 Feb 2024
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Fiat's recast 500 is a solid, refined little electric car

Good stuff

Style, decent electric range with the bigger battery, easy-to-use tech

Bad stuff

Cramped out back, a little unadventurous, quite expensive

Overview

What is it?

This is the Fiat 500 – there’s basically zero chance you’ve not heard of it or seen one on the road, it’s one of the most recognisable shapes and faces on the market. This latest version of the car is different to before, though, because it went electric when it launched in 2020. 

Fiat calls it the New 500, but it’s also known in some circles as the 500e – there needs to be some distinction because the Old 500 is still on sale at the same time as the New 500, which itself isn’t really that new after a number of years on sale.

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What’s the difference with the petrol 500?

Well it looks like the 500, but you won’t find any components in this car from the older one. The New 500 is bigger and uses a new interior, chassis, body and platform. Most obviously and significantly, it’s electric only.

It’s also 61mm longer, 56mm wider and 29mm taller than the petrol 500. The proportions are bolstered and the surfaces uncomplicated. Some of the detailing is plain terrific. It manages, we think, to steer clear of parodic cuteness. It’s a work of great confidence, and especially successful in brighter colours (from which there are many to choose now that Fiat has decided it’s no longer selling cars in boring hues).

Is it still front drive though? 

Sadly yes – since Fiat was starting from scratch, it could have done a rear motor/RWD job like the recently departed Honda e. Hmm, maybe a bad example. Or the original 500. But Fiat argues that FWD is what people are used to nowadays. Though there is a company doing an electric version of the original if you fancy that...

For the same reason the electric motor’s accelerator calibration is much like a petrol, and the behaviour in bends is familiar too. Why’s the charge port on the right-rear wing? That’s where you put in petrol. The canvas roof on the convertible version is a broadly similar idea to the existing 500’s, stretched between metal side rails, to preserve chassis rigidity.

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What about range?

The electric 500 comes with either a 24kWh or 42kWh battery – the former comes with a 94bhp motor and a 118-mile official range, while the latter gets a 117bhp motor and is rated for 199 miles of WLTP range. 

Range is up to 199 miles for the big battery and 118 miles for the small battery, but as with any electric car, if you move with outside lane motorway traffic it’ll be significantly less than its WLTP number. 

Still, in a mix of city centre, suburban, country work plus a stretch of motorway, the 500 proved largely as efficient as claimed, though the 24kWh model struggled to top 90 miles. We wouldn’t recommend the entry 24kWh model unless it’s a strict second car for driving around town.

The 42kWh car can charge at a decent 85kW, giving you 100 miles in little over a quarter of an hour. Most rapid chargers in the UK are 50kW, though, so you’re as well saving your money and charging there. Incidentally, 50kW is the max charge rate of the small battery car. We ran a 500 as a long-termer in 2021 if you'd like to read more about living with the car.

What about rivals? 

The electric 500’s ambitious price point takes it right into (and occasionally past) the territory of rivals. If you’re just looking for electric wheels, then the Peugeot e-208, Renault Zoe or even a much cheaper secondhand Volkswagen e-Up would be safe bets. Even the decent MG4 is within reach at this price. The Mini Electric competes on style – the Fiat has better range with its 42kWh battery, but it’s less fun to drive. 

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

Fiat's recast 500 is a solid, refined little electric car

The 500 is small, but if you don’t need space it could be your only car. That’s because it’ll go far enough on a charge to make motorway trips tenable. It has a stylish, recognisable design and a quality feel – it would make a great choice for anyone needing a portable, good looking electric car or dipping a toe into electric waters. 

The Rivals

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