2024 Fiat 500e Review – Cinquecento heads into the EV age

When it comes to reinvention, Cher and Madonna quickly pop into mind. Both have illustrious careers that span decades and they managed to keep their materials fresh through the years.

The Fiat 500 has a similarly celebrated career. The original Cinquecento was one of the world’s most likeable and recognisable automotive icon.

The modern come back in 2012 continues that trend and now, the cutesy 500 has gone through another reincarnation. This time, it’s all electric but still looks familiar.

Appropriately badged the Fiat 500e, with the ‘e’ is hidden in the second zero of the badge.

It’s an all-new car too that’s built on a bespoke electric car platform. Its slightly larger than the conventional petrol-power Fiat 500 which remains on sale.

Parked side-by-side, it’s obvious the 500e has a more modern design with the split headlights, larger wheels and touter body work.

How much is the Fiat 500e?

Available in Australia in just the La Prima (The First) trim, the new 500e is priced from $52,500 plus on-road costs – not cheap for a two-door hatch, although it’s cheaper than the Mini Electric S at $64,975.

The 500e is available in the following colours with all but Ice White costing $700 extra, while Celestial Blue adds an additional $1,600.

  • Ice White
  • Onyx Black
  • Ocean Green
  • Mineral Grey
  • Rose Gold
  • Celestial Blue

What do you get?

Standard equipment in the Fiat 500e includes:

  • 17-inch Diamond-cut alloy wheels
  • LED headlights and daytime running lights
  • Automatic high beam
  • Panoramic fixed glass roof
  • Ice Beige eco-leather seat trim
  • Heated front seats
  • 6-way manual adjusting front seats
  • Front, side and rear parking sensors
  • Rear-view camera
  • Blind Spot Assist
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking with Vulnerable Road Users
  • Traffic sign recognition and intelligent speed control
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Drive Behaviour Warning
  • Adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam Assist
  • 7-inch digital instrument cluster
  • 25-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • DAB+
  • 6-speaker sound system
  • Climate control
  • Wireless smartphone charging
  • Mode 3 charging cable

What’s the Fiat 500e like on the inside?

Being an all-new model, the 500e is a huge leap forward in terms of interior design and technology compared to its combustion engine counterparts.

There’s a lovely 10.25-inch touchscreen – an increase of 3.25-inch compared to the 500 – with fresh graphics and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

The familiar circular instrument cluster has also received a makeover and brought up to date with a new 7.0-inch fully digital screen that is more configurable.

There’s also a new thick-rimmed, two-spoke flat bottom steering wheel with plenty of buttons to navigate through the menus.

Fiat has wisely retained physical buttons for the climate control instead of moving everything onto the touchscreen as with some rivals, but they feel a little flimsy and the gloss black is susceptible to fingerprints. There are also plenty of hard plastic throughout the retro-inspired cabin.

Interesting design features such as the FIAT monogram on the lower part of the seats do lift cabin ambience and the seats themselves are comfortable, although lumbar support is missed.

Like the new Lexus NX and RX, the new 500e comes with electromagnetic door releases (via push buttons) that prevents you from opening onto oncoming cyclists or pedestrians from behind.

Despite its small stature, the Fiat 500e feels more spacious than you might expect. There’s plenty of headroom and the fixed glass roof lends it an airy feel.

Rear seat accommodation – as with most four-seaters – are tight in the second row for adults but will be fine for small children. You know the 500e is really designed for two in mind when there’s no charging ports at the back, either.

Boot space isn’t great either, with just 185L at your disposal or just enough to fit a small shopping trolley. If more space is required, dropping the 50:50 split rear seats will liberate 550L of load space.

What’s under the bonnet?

Propelling the Fiat 500e is a front-mounted single electric motor producing 87kW of power and 220Nm of torque. It’s fed by a 42kWh lithium-ion battery pack that is capable of a maximum charging rate of 85kW when plugged into a DC fast charger.

Fiat claims 0-80 per cent in around 35 minutes while maximum range when fully charged is 311km, which is around what we got in the real world.

How does the Fiat 500e drive?

The Fiat 500e is heavy for a small car which dulls its performance somewhat but that won’t be a concern for most. It tips the scale at 1,365kg with 295kg of that contributed by the battery pack.

Still, the little Cinquecento EV will dash from 0-100km/h in a claimed 9.0 seconds. It feels faster than it is thanks to the full whack of torque available from almost standstill.

There are three driving modes: Normal, Range and Sherpa. In Normal, the brake pedal feels nicely progressive and ‘normal’.

If extending your range is the priority, then Range is what you want, as it maximises regenerative braking but stops short of one-pedal driving.

Sherpa is like Range but turns off the climate control and limits the top speed to 80km/h It’s useful if you’re down to minimal range and just wants to get to the nearest charging station.

But whichever mode you’re in, the 500e is delightfully zippy thanks to the instantaneous torque available from the get-go. The 205/45R17 tyres is meaty for a car of this size and provide excellent grip and traction.

There is very little roll through corners and while the steering isn’t the most communicative, you can confidently place the 500e through corners without feeling the need to slow down at all. It’s genuinely fun!

However, push it beyond the adhesive limits afforded by the eco tyres, the car will ultimately understeer.

Its comfortable around town and on the freeway at higher speeds, the 500e feels stable despite its small size.

Its active driver assist systems work well, too, without being overly reactive.

How safe is the Fiat 500e?

The 500e earned a four-star ANCAP safety rating based on Euro ANCAP when it was tested in 2021.

It comes standard with:

  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Lane centring
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Intelligent speed assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Reverse camera

Ownership

The Fiat 500e comes with a shorter than average 3 years or 150,000km vehicle warranty, while its battery is covered for 8 years or 160,000km.

It requires a service very 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first, and is covered by capped-price servicing costing $250 per visit for the first eight years.

Verdict

Design & Comfort

8.0/10

Performance & Handling

8.0/10

Quality

8.0/10

Economy

7.5/10

Equipment & Features

8.0/10

OUR SCORE

4.0/5

Our Score: 4/5

+ Plus

  • Triumphant reinvention of an icon
  • Zippy and confortable
  • Fresh cabin and up to date technology

Minus

  • Range isn’t the best
  • Tight rear seats

Overall

The new 2024 Fiat 500e brings the iconic Italian hatch into the electric age while retaining its original charm. Its updated technology is a big leap over the petrol-powered 500, too.

We also like the way it drives although the 300-odd kilometre range means you won’t go very far especially if you are giving it the beans.

Finally, it’s not cheap for what is essentially a small city car but it’s hard to put value on style and charm!

2024 Fiat 500e Pricing and Specification

Price (excl. on-roads)From: $52,500

As tested: $54,100

Tested options:

  • Celestial Blue Metallic Paint: $1,600
Warranty3 years / 150,000 km
Battery Warranty8 years / 160,000 km
Warranty Customer Assistance3 year roadside
Country of OriginItaly
Service Intervals12 months/15,000km
Electric MotorSingle Front-Mounted Permanent Magnet Motor:

87kW, 220Nm

Battery Capacity (kWh)42.0
Battery TypeLithium Ion
Wall Socket Charge Voltage/Charge Time230V/15h and 15 min
Fast Charge Time35 min
TransmissionSingle-speed reduction gear
DrivetrainFront-wheel drive
Power to Weight Ratio (kW/t)67.4
0-100km/h (seconds)9.0
Electric Driving Range (WLTP)311km
RON RatingElectric
Body3-door hatch, 4-seats
Safety
  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • 6 airbags
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Lane centring
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Intelligent speed assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Reverse camera
Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm3,631/1,683/1,529/2,322
Tare Mass (kg)1,290
Boot Space (min/max)(L)185/550
Turning circle between kerbs9.7
Ground Clearance:130
Towing Capacity (kg):N/A
Entertainment10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth, USB-A/C, AM/FM/DAB+, 6-speaker sound system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

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