Cute! An electric Fiat 500 has come to live at Top Gear
Henceforth, it shall be known not as the Fiat 500e, but rather, ‘BabyCar’. Upon receipt of Top Gear’s new Fiat, I embarked on an impromptu voyage out of London and down the M1 to see my parents (but mostly the dog). My dad, upon immediately seeing the little rose gold-coloured bundle of joy pull up on his driveway, squealed with delight.
“It’s like a baby car,” he said. He doth utter the truth. It is small and could probably fit in your pocket. Of course, it’s always been small, because the 500 has kept the same basic proportions since it first launched back in 1957, and the world was a lot smaller back in 1957.
OK, so this one’s a fraction bigger than a petrol-engined 500, but who’s counting when it looks this adorable? It’s difficult to come over all Captain Sensible (see the BMW 128ti for that) when it looks like a puppy.
But sensible we must be, because this Fiat is fully electric, and we have a mission on our hands. Myself and colleague/fellow Londoner Greg Potts will attempt to discover if life with a small electric car when you don’t have access to home charging is entirely possible.
So far it’s been… challenging.
This may or may not have more to do with my driving style but that’s a point we shall tuck under the carpet. TG’s Fiat 500e gets the larger 42kWh battery tucked inside its endearing flanks, which Fiat claims is good for a 199-mile WLTP range. A few short city trips and I pick up the story with 124 miles of range on the readout. Should be more than enough for a 35-mile trip down the M1, right?
Well, yes, but I didn’t arrive with 90 miles remaining, I arrived with 70-odd because I’m like a baby to this EV world – full of enthusiasm but zero concentration and knowledge. Attempting to join the motorway, I forgot it was in ‘Sherpa’ mode (the best for eking out range in the city) which limits the top speed to 50mph.
I honestly thought I’d broken something.
I clicked it into ‘Range’ mode – actually I did several clicks before it registered I wanted Range mode – at which point my still-fully-flat-on-the-throttle approach meant I leapt to 70mph in no time and properly destroyed the remaining range. (Remarkably settled at speed, I’d add.)
From there however, yet more disaster. I found it incredibly difficult to modulate a one-pedal-style of driving because you have to read the road so far ahead and I’m used to cars braking when I press the brakes, not when I lift off the accelerator. It takes a while to settle in, but then it did and then I got bored of staring at the range readout and driving like a mobile motorway chicane.
It’s nippy enough, mind, if you don’t like conserving battery power, and actually, isn’t really meant for continual expeditions out of its natural habitat. In town? Brilliant, so far. With London’s expanded ULEZ now enforced, there’s a thrill of buzzing around with merry abandon in something so small and with light steering and such a light footprint.
There’s a lightness of touch inside, too. TG’s 500e is in ‘Icon’ spec, replete with 85kW fast charging capability, a 10.25in touchscreen, cloth seats, some cables, some USBs, air-con (though, it’s unlikely to be used amirite), 17in wheels and the ‘winter pack’ – heated front seats and, no joke, a heated windscreen wiper blade area. Aww.
TBH I’m already hooked. What next for BabyCar? Tune in next month for more ham-fisted EV adventures…