Fiat 500 Electric Review
The Fiat 500 Electric is one of the best compact electric cars, with smart styling, a good battery range and useful high-tech features.
Published: 16 December 2022
If you’re looking for a small, stylish electric car that’s perfectly suited to city life, the Fiat 500 Electric (on sale new since 2021) is a great option. Although it looks similar to the standard Fiat 500 it’s actually an entirely new model that’s more spacious, has extra tech and, of course, gives you all the benefits of an electric car. It’s easy to park, cost-effective to run and available in a wide range of colours and trims. There’s even a convertible version with a folding fabric roof.
The maximum battery range is 199 miles, according to official figures, which is better than rivals such as the Mini Electric and the Honda E. Small but sophisticated, the 500 Electric is a car you can buy with both your head and your heart.
- Stylish and desirable
- Up to 199 miles of range
- Lots of equipment as standard
- Small boot
- Lack of space in the back
- Convertible version is pricey
Dashboard & tech
Most Fiat 500 Electric models have a touchscreen infotainment display in the middle of the dashboard. It’s either a 7-inch or 10.25-inch display, depending on the model, but in all cases it’s a step up from the system found in the non-electric Fiat 500. Smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard on models with a touchscreen display. Some versions also feature a wireless mobile charging pad, while models with a 10.25-inch screen have sat nav.
The entry-level Action model has a smartphone cradle instead of a touchscreen display. It’s fine if you’re happy to use your phone for audio, navigation and calling functions. All models have a 7-inch digital instrument cluster in front of the driver, displaying useful information like driving range and battery charge. It’s customisable, so you can show the info that matters to you.
The front seats in the Fiat 500 Electric are comfortable, even on a long journey. This isn’t something you could say about the non-electric 500. The driving position is good, even for tall people, with four-way adjustment for the front seats and a steering wheel that’s adjustable for height and reach.
Air con is standard across the range, with most models having automatic climate control, which means the temperature will remain at your desired setting. Rear parking sensors are also standard, so even if your rear view is obscured by back seat passengers, parking won’t be a problem. Want to feel toasty in cold weather? Find a car with the optional winter pack for heated front seats.
In places where the old Fiat 500 felt plasticky, the 500 Electric feels solidly built and well made. The car becomes progressively more upmarket as you work through the range – high-spec models have a soft-touch steering wheel, leather seats, a dashboard painted in the car’s body colour, a panoramic glass roof and a front centre armrest. There are no interior pulls to open the doors, just a pair of buttons mounted on the grab handles. It feels like a touch of Rolls-Royce in a humble Fiat.
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Practicality & boot space
The Fiat 500 Electric is longer and wider than the old 500, which translates to more space in the front. There’s lots of headroom and shoulder room for the driver and front-seat passenger, which makes the 500 Electric easier to live with on a long journey.
It’s not as spacious in the back, and there are only two seats. These are fine for anyone who doesn’t mind clambering into the gap behind the front seats to get there, but legroom is tight. Also, if you need to load a child into a car seat you might want to look at a small electric car with back doors. Something like a Volkswagen e-Up, a Peugeot e-208 or a Vauxhall Corsa-e would fit the bill.
Interior storage space is pretty good. The glovebox is a decent size, as are the door pockets, and there’s a handy compartment for your phone between the front seats. The shelf below the touchscreen infotainment system doubles up as a wireless charging pad on high-spec models, but all versions have a retractable cupholder in the front. It’s a neat touch.
The 185-litre boot is small, even by city-car standards. It won’t be much use if you’re helping a friend to move house, but there’s enough space for your grocery shopping or the luggage for a weekend away.
The back seats fold down to reveal more boot space and, if you avoid the entry-level model, they also split down the middle, so you still have room for a passenger while carrying longer or larger loads. The Fiat’s boot is bigger than in the Honda E, but the E has more back-seat room than the Fiat.
Although the 500 Electric’s back seats don’t fold entirely flat, the car scores highly for its tall, wide boot opening. The same can’t be said about the convertible 500C Electric, which despite having a similar amount of boot space, has an opening that will put you in mind of a letterbox.
The Fiat 500 Electric was built for the city, so it’s no surprise to find that this is where it feels most at home. It’s not as fun to drive as a Honda E or a Mini Electric, but the 500 Electric is more comfortable and easier to live with on congested streets. The light steering makes parking a doddle, with rear parking sensors included as standard across the range to help with trickier manoeuvres.
It's also fine outside the city limits, thanks to the excellent ride comfort and a slightly raised driving position.
Most models come with a 42kWh battery and an 87kW electric motor. It’s extremely quick off the mark, so the Fiat 500 Electric is ideal for pulling quickly out of a junction should you need to. It’s also rapid enough to deal with a long journey, making light work of overtaking manoeuvres.
There’s also a 500 Electric with a 24kWh battery and 70kW electric motor and it isn’t that much slower than the models with a larger output. That’s because the battery pack is lighter, so there’s less car to haul about. If you spend most of your time in the city, you’re unlikely to notice the difference between the two outputs. Another advantage with the 24kWh battery is its faster charging time, so you’ll be spending less on electricity. However, the battery range is lower so you’ll have to charge more often.
Fuel economy & CO2 emissions
Get a Fiat 500 Electric with the 42kWh battery you can travel up to 199 miles between battery charges, according to official figures. In the real world, you’re likely to see around 150 miles from a full charge, which could be enough for a week’s worth of commuting. A full charge takes 4hrs 15mins when using an 11kW charger, with an 80% charge possible in just 35 minutes at charging speeds of up to 50kW.
The 24kWh battery offers an official 115 miles of electric range, which is likely to equate to 100 miles in real life. Recharging the battery at home should take around 2hrs 30 mins, with an 80% charge achievable in half an hour at speeds of up to 50kW. Thanks to its zero emissions, the 500 Electric is exempt from car tax and clean air zone fees.
Value for money
The Fiat 500 Electric is one of the most affordable electric cars you can buy new. In Action trim, it costs roughly the same as a mid-spec Ford Fiesta, which is exceptional value for money. The other models cost more but they also add more style and equipment to the mix. They also undercut larger, supermini-based electric cars by a comfortable margin.
Crucially, the 500 Electric feels special. The styling puts a smile on your face, the interior looks upmarket, and the running costs will be lower than with an equivalent petrol or diesel car.
Reliability & Warranty
The Fiat 500 Electric is backed by a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, which is the same as the cover you’d get when buying a Honda E or a Mini Electric. Fiat also guarantees the battery for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
It’s too early to assess the long-term reliability of the 500 Electric since it’s only been on sale since 2021 but, as with any electric car, it has fewer moving mechanical parts than a petrol or diesel model so there’s potentially less to go wrong.
The Fiat 500 Electric was awarded a four-star rating out of five when it was tested by safety organisation Euro NCAP. Many of its rival small electric cars haven’t been tested by the organisation, but the ageing Renault Zoe was given a zero-star rating when it was tested in 2021.
All models have multiple airbags, drowsiness detection, automatic headlights, tyre-pressure monitoring and automatic emergency calling in the event of an accident. High-spec versions have adaptive cruise control, 360-degree parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and a rear-view camera.
Trims & Engines
The Fiat 500 Electric was introduced with three core models: Action, Passion and Icon. In addition to the smaller battery, the Action also comes with less equipment as standard, but it’s ideal if you’re after an affordable electric car for a short commute. Passion offers a good blend of price and equipment, but the Icon offers significantly more for a modest increase in price. Also look out for the La Prima special edition, which comes with many of the most desirable options as standard.
Recently, Fiat replaced the Passion trim with the (Red) – the brackets are part of the name. Don’t be fooled by the name, though, because four colours are actually available; all come with red accents and a red driver’s seat.
Most Fiat 500 Electric models have a 42kWh battery and 87kW electric motor. An official range of up to 199 miles is more than the 137 miles offered by the Honda E, but you’ll travel further in a Vauxhall Corsa-e or Peugeot e-208. Fiat discontinued the 24kWh version in July 2022 because of supply issues, but it’s likely to return to the line-up in the future.
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