The 500 is the symbol of a six-decade history of success for Fiat. If the first generation, back in 1957, contributed decisively to democratize mobility, the “modern”, from 2007, surely saved the manufacturer from bankruptcy, giving rise to a whole family of models, even with crossover bodywork. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Italian brand has decided that its first 100% electric car is precisely this one, and although aesthetically the variation may seem subtle (it is actually quite profound) the technical changes are very profound.
The most obvious, of course, is that the only mechanical offering is made up of fully electric motors. Who wants a 500 gasoline will have to resort to the previous generation, which for now will continue to be sold. From the new one, you can choose between a 95 and a 118CV (87 kW) engine, which is what we have been able to know in depth. It offers excellent performance, thanks to the high instantaneous torque of this type of mechanics, and suggests that the 95CV could be more than enough for those who are looking only for urban driving.
In the aesthetic section, it is clearly differentiated by a practically covered grill (except in the lower one) and by the handles flush in the doors (They are in fact just a button in favor of aerodynamics, both outside and inside, although there is a second lower handle to open from the inside, in case someone prefers). The optical groups are also totally different.
Inside, the feeling is that there is much more space than in the 500 thermal, thanks to the absence of transmission lever and handbrake (electric too). The transmission is distributed in a neat button panel under the central infotainment screen, which is a good size (10.25 »in our Icon finisher, the most refined of a range also composed of the Access Action and the Passion intermediate) and excellent display quality, as is the instrument panel in front of the driver, which offers a wide range of different displays (including the option to show navigation). Between the two there is also a wireless charging base for smartphone and the HVAC controls. And while there is hard plastic on the doors, the overall feel is, again, of a big leap in quality, with everything very well adjusted.
The new 500 e, as it is called, can be chosen with two different battery sizes. The small one, with 23.7 kWh, approves 185 kilometers. The second, with 42 kWh, offers up to 320 on paper, although it can even grow more, exceeding 400. As in all electric vehicles, the figures vary greatly depending on the temperature, the use of the air conditioning or the way of driving, in addition to the type of driving, but it did seem to us during our test that it is not difficult to extract 280 real kilometers in mixed driving conditions, with a battery with a higher capacity – even a little more if the journeys were 100% urban, by making better use of energy recovery.
To facilitate this, Fiat has incorporated three different driving modes, which can be selected using a rotary knob on the center console. Normal mode does not incorporate retention when you lift your foot from the accelerator, the Range incorporates a very noticeable retention and the Sherpa is equivalent to the “single pedal” of other brands: when you take your foot off the accelerator, the car slows down. This last mode is deactivated automatically from 80 kilometers per hour and, when activated, also limits the air conditioning functions (to extend the autonomy).
At the controls, the 500 e feels very poised, thanks to the battery, spread out on the floor, which improves the distribution of weights. The steering, on the other hand, is direct and quite efficient, while the feel of the brake is very successful, which is not always the case in electric vehicles. As for driving assistants, the 500 e you can count on a complete system package, which include Active Lane Keeping Assist with distance control from the vehicle in front. And it highlights the good functioning of the voice assistant, capable of recognizing orders in natural language, such as: navigate to Calle Aragón or Turn on the air conditioning.
In terms of charging, it supports fast charging of up to 85 kW in direct current thanks to which it takes only 5 minutes to have a range of 50 kilometers. In a household conventional alternating current connector (schuko) you can obtain about 15 kilometers of autonomy per hour. And in our unity, with retractable roof CabrioIt is also worth noting the good operation of this system, just by pressing two buttons next to the central mirror – it has two positions: only roof and roof + rear window.
On the more negative side, the space behind is scarce (another body, called 3 + 1, facilitates access by adding a half door with reverse opening) and it lacks heated seats, which would save on extending the autonomy on very cold days, when not having to resort to air conditioning.
Prices start from 24,900 euros for the 500 e saloon in Action finish, with 95CV and 185 km of autonomy, and they amount to 29,900 for the 500 and 118CV Icon saloon, which grows to 32,900 in our convertible Cabrio version, to which we must subtract aid such as the plan Moves (5,500 euros) and regional and municipal incentives for electric vehicles.