TURIN, Italy – America’s romance with the Fiat 500 has been rocky at very best.
Skimming in excess of the unique, pre-war design, the 2nd-era 500 (the one particular with a rear-mounted motor) was briefly sold in this article with funky headlights that trapped out from the front close like a bug’s eyes. Smaller and underpowered, although a remarkable sum of exciting to push in its very own way, it didn’t catch on and moseyed out of our current market just after a couple limited many years.
The third-era 500 spearheaded Fiat’s return to the United States when it disembarked listed here in 2012. It marketed as nicely as you can be expecting a European-flavored subcompact hatchback to sell in the Ford F-150’s bastion and bowed out in 2019, although it’s however offered throughout the pond alongside its meant successor. That would be the fourth-generation 500, unveiled in 2020, which retained the retro style but went electrical-only.
Gross sales in the United States are scheduled to begin in early 2024, indicating the cheeky hatchback will be about 4 a long time old by the time it turns a wheel on American pavement. Is it really worth the wait? I traveled to Fiat’s house town of Turin in northern Italy to get a better thought of what helps make this exciting-sized EV excitement.
There’s a single place I need to deal with appropriate off the bat: what you see in our gallery isn’t just what you are going to get when the new 500 rolls into American showrooms with an “e” hooked up to the conclude of its identify. Fiat has not specific the American-sector product however, but it is affordable to assume most of the changes will be uncovered on the specs sheet and on the listing of conventional and optional gear. Fiat cannot consider a European-market car or truck and ship it listed here unchanged, but I’m not expecting substantial updates to the exterior or inside design — nothing at all implies it will morph into an outdoorsy 4-doorway crossover.
Talking of style, it is been the 500’s most important providing place due to the fact the previous-era product made its debut in 2007 so Fiat’s edits had been fairly gentle. I’d guess anyone who isn’t up to date with what is taking place on automobile world might not recognize that they are seeking at a new 500, and which is intentional. However unabashedly retro, the design stands out from its predecessor with a new-glimpse front conclusion that capabilities two-piece LED headlights and a big “500” emblem, vibrant beltline trim and a extra chiseled hatch. Its proportions have not improved, but it is marginally bigger than just before: it stretches 143 inches extensive, 66.3 inches wide, and 60.1 inches tall, proportions that make it about 3 inches more time, 2 inches broader, and 2 inches taller than the final 500 offered in this article. It is provided as a hatchback with two or 3 (!) doors and as a quasi-convertible. I drove the two-door hatchback, and it’s much too early to convey to which variant(s) will appear to the United States.
Even bigger changes are scattered all through the inside: the new 500e feels considerably nicer than the very last-generation design, both of those in phrases of in good shape and complete, and of products (it even has electric power-operated doorway handles, Maserati-design and style). It also advantages from the same enjoyable solution to style that permeates most of the the latest additions to the Stellantis portfolio. “FIAT” is stitched into the upholstery, the old 500’s define seems in the inside door pull following to the phrase “Made in Torino,” and the Turin skyline is etched into the wireless charging pad’s mat. The driver faces a two-spoke steering wheel and a refreshingly very simple digital instrument cluster, even though a 10.25-inch touchscreen dominates the dashboard.
The similarities in between the very last-generation 500 and the new product are just pores and skin-deep the two cars share nothing at all beneath the sheet metallic. Developed on a new platform, the 500e ships with a solitary, entrance-mounted electrical motor that draws electric power from a small, 28.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to zap the front wheels with 95 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. This variation tips the scale at 2,601 kilos, and my crystal ball tells me we’re unlikely to see it in the United States. What we’ll likely get (nevertheless retain in mind that this is pure speculation) is the drivetrain European motorists have to pay out further for. It’s nonetheless created close to a front-mounted electrical motor, but the battery pack’s sizing improves to 42 kWh and horsepower jumps to 118, nevertheless torque stays flat. In this configuration, the 2,843-pound 500e takes 9 seconds to access 62 mph from a halt as opposed to 9.5 seconds for the base product.
Driving array is dependent on in which you drive and who you question. Fiat estimates figures of 118 miles and 205 miles for the modest and big battery packs, respectively, but it notes that driving exclusively in the city unlocks 257 miles and 291 miles, respectively. These numbers had been attained applying Europe’s notoriously optimistic WLTP screening cycle, and the EPA figures will be reduce (assuming we get either battery pack).
There is a good deal to like about the 500e from the driver’s seat. It’s far more spacious than you may possibly believe provided its proportions, the entrance seats are moderately snug, and the electronic instrument cluster is refreshingly uncomplicated. It is primary, which is a awesome change from some of the IMAX-like displays businesses are increasingly stuffing into their autos. And, in a way, it is also retro: the aged 500 arrived with a quite basic instrument cluster as nicely. The supplies on the dashboard sense good contemplating the section this motor vehicle competes in, however you really do not require to poke all around for extremely lengthy to obtain rock-really hard plastics, and the equipment selector buttons save house but are clunky to use. Out back again … nicely, it’s a 500, a design that has in no way, at any time been admired for roominess. It’s tight, and the trunk is compact, but expecting to match NBA gamers in the rear seats and a cooler in the trunk is like expecting to zig-zag throughout central Rome in a Chevrolet Tahoe.
Fiat will make some modifications to the 500e right before launching it in the United States, as mentioned over, but I’d say the interior is superior to go as-is … with just one exception. The lone, itsy-bitsy cupholder that flips out from the bottom component of the centre console is not heading to slice it in the land Major Gulpuccinos.
One of the additional appealing and unforeseen takeaways from my time powering the wheel is that the 500e drives a good deal like its gasoline-burning predecessor. It is quicker many thanks to the electric motor’s fast torque, and it is clearly quieter, but it doesn’t like to be hustled (that’s what the Abarth-branded model is ostensibly for). Although the battery pack is built-in into the chassis and right below the seats, its rather little measurement stops the 500e from feeling as planted and base-hefty as other EVs.
Wherever this car definitely shines is in the metropolis. It effortlessly and silently glides from mild to light and darts into gaps in targeted visitors. It’s straightforward to park, much too, thanks to a somewhat tight turning radius and a gentle steering process. It is also at dwelling on region roadways and even on the freeway, nevertheless the steering is equivalent parts fast and imprecise and the suspension is astonishingly harsh. I consider that is one particular of the alterations that Fiat will make ahead of giving the 500e permission to journey to the United States worldwide-marketplace cars and trucks usually come with a firmer suspension in Europe than in the United States due to various customer preferences.
One of the infotainment system’s menus shows the energy flow, which is not uncommon in a modern day car regardless of powertrain style. What is great right here is that, in addition to the motor’s serious-time ability use, it displays how considerably juice the local weather handle method is drawing. This can take a great offer of the guesswork out of driving an EV — if your variety is totally free-slipping, it can support you figure out why. In my case, I dropped extra selection than I lined length. It was rather chilly at the foot of the Italian Alps, so I had the heater on for most of the drive (my tester didn’t have heated seats). Your mileage may virtually fluctuate.
Fiat programmed three driving modes named Standard, Variety and Sherpa, respectively. The to start with manner is self-explanatory, but an crucial detail is that there is no perceptible brake-electricity regeneration. Elevate off the accelerator pedal and the 500e coasts with no any resistance. Vary feels a good deal like Ordinary but it brings a potent sum of regen you can appear to a complete end by lifting your foot off the accelerator. Previous and, in this circumstance, minimum, Sherpa restrictions the best pace to about 50 mph and disables the air conditioning procedure as properly as the heated seats (if equipped) to conserve as substantially selection as achievable. In a doubtful way, this is a further retro contact: with Sherpa method, you will be very hot as hell in the summertime and never achieve freeway speeds, just like in a 1957 500 with an air-cooled, 13-horsepower two-cylinder motor.
The one-pedal driving method is a actual boon in town driving, and it provides a minimal little bit of vary to the battery pack each and every time you acquire your foot off the accelerator pedal, but if I could go again and intervene in the design and style method, I’d incorporate an intermediate manner. As it stands, it’s all or nothing at all, and the regeneration you get in Selection manner is relatively intense. The 500e would benefit from, say, a Range-Mild mode.
There are two methods to appear at the 500e. On a person hand, it is a entire good deal considerably less handy and a total ton additional high-priced than its gasoline-driven predecessor. The constrained driving range will relegate it to 2nd-automobile position for most families and, when pricing for the American market has not been launched, it will not be low-cost. Pricing starts off at €29,950 for the 95-horsepower model and €33,150 for the 118-horsepower model in Italy, figures that signify close to $31,800 and $35,200, respectively, even though the conversion is in no way as easy as Google helps make it out to be. On the other hand, there is a subset of the population that will welcome the 500e as the ideal auto. It turns heads even in its house country, it has a person of the finest interiors in Europe’s crowded metropolis-car or truck section, and it’s tailor-built for major-town daily life. How that translates back in the United States will be interesting to see.
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