Test New Fiat 500e: Modern electric car for the city with low consumption

Sergio Marchionne advised against buying a Fiat 500e. The company he runs is making losses with every electric car, he said. That was in 2014. Marchionne, who died almost three years ago, probably made the decision to build the New Fiat 500 anyway. Now the small car is for sale. Exclusively without a combustion engine. So much becomes clear after a few kilometers: This is not just a retro car, but a really good electric car.

The Fiat 500 differs from its extremely popular predecessor, which has been built since 2007 and continues to be offered as a mild hybrid. It is wider, which primarily benefits the comfort in the interior, but hardly longer at 3.63 meters. The proportions have shifted slightly and beneficially. The Fiat 500 is new and familiar at the same time, and this impression must have been the aim of the designers.

You can tell in many ways that it is also a technically successful construction. It can be charged with alternating and direct current as standard. That is not a given in this class. The test car had the battery with the larger energy content of 37 kWh net and a three-phase charger. The basic version with 21.3 kWh also has 11 kW charging power as standard.

The recuperation can be switched from “Normal” mode – here the Fiat rolls largely “without resistance” – to “Range” using a switch. This leads to a one-pedal drive to a standstill. The fluted rocker switches with pressure point on the back of the steering wheel, on the other hand, are used for radio control. This also works via the touchscreen in the middle, but then your hands cannot stay on the wheel.

The control, radio and navigation system is first class. There are neither bugs like with the VW ID.3, nor are the drivers bothered by slowness. The system reacts fluently and quickly. The reflex to immediately mirror Google Maps via Android Auto does not arise in the Fiat 500. Voice control also works well.

The ease of use continues when you insert the speed steps: There are four large push buttons for P, N, R and D. Done. Then the Fiat 500 gets going. 87 kW may seem like little. Because of the low curb weight of 1365 kg – the convertible and the “3 + 1” variant with two doors on the right are a little heavier – and the 500 model sprints away with good traction for a front-wheel drive car. In the city sprint to 50 km / h it is 3.1 seconds. Nine seconds pass from zero to 100 km / h. Above all, the electronics do not have to constantly stall their performance as in the electric cars from PSA or Hyundai. The tires have grip. However, not as much as, for example, with the rear-wheel drive Renault Twingo: Those who cross the kickdown point experience the limits of joy. This applies to dry and especially damp road surfaces.

The interior width has grown. Enjoyable. The rest follows the familiar style.
(Image: Fiat)

The only obvious weak point is the smooth steering, which could offer more feedback and is not perfectly coordinated overall. A Mini Cooper SE can do that much better. Still, the fact remains: the Fiat 500 is fun.

The driver assistance systems show an astonishingly high level. The Fiat Co-Drive package costs 1,500 euros extra in the Icon medium equipment line and is standard on the La Prima. It is a real recommendation for anyone who either attaches importance to adaptive cruise control or occasionally drives on the motorway. Here the small Fiat is practically on a par with the most modern compact cars.

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