The new Fiat 500 will be an all-electric city car…
I’ve yet to meet anyone that doesn’t like the Fiat 500; when it was introduced as a retro-inspired new model in 2007, it appeared that Fiat had got it right – a modern take on a much-loved classic is a journey that can be littered with pitfalls, but with the new Beetle and new MINI proving hugely successful, it must’ve been a relief to Fiat that right from the off, the new city car picked up CAR magazine’s Car of the Year award. More than 2 million new Fiat 500 vehicles on, and we now have details on how Fiat plans to drive the 500 into the new electric world.
It doesn’t take a big leap to consider that such a popular small city car just might prove to be as equally successful as a small electric city car. Since 2007 most of the subsequent Fiat 500 changes have been, in the main, largely cosmetic – but now the little car with the roomy interior is set to become an electric cabriolet when it arrives on these shores in 2021 – the solid top will arrive later. It might seem a bit of a topsy-turvy way of doing things, but the new Fiat 500 electric cabriolet will occupy a unique spot in the hierarchy of small EV city cars.
The car will also sit on a new platform giving the 500 a slightly larger footprint, being both 60mm wider as well as 60mm longer. The 42kWh battery will provide range of around 199 miles. It will take you 9 seconds to accelerate up to 0-62mph, but just over 3 seconds to break free of the traffic lights up to 31mph, and the new Fiat 500 will provide 117bhp. Top speed is limited to 93mph.
Charging the battery up to 80% will take 35 minutes, while just 5 minutes will provide a 31-mile range for those late for work, with a full charge taking approximately 6 hours. Of note is the announcement that this new electric Fiat will get its own 3kW charger for home use, which means plugging straight into a wall socket is an option. Interestingly, the 500 will include an eco-driving mode called Sherpa, which limits the top speed to 50mph and disables ancillary electronics and climate control to enable the next charging point to be reached when charge is running low. In addition to Sherpa mode, we have Normal and Range. The latter increases regenerative braking, giving a virtual single-pedal drive mode, while the former gives the closest feel to a normal petrol engine.
Outside, Fiat has played safe – the car shows no sign of losing the looks that gave it its initial appeal. Fiat is wisely not taking too many risks with major exterior changes. Flush door handles and LED lights aside, the front bumper gets an upgrade and the rear gets a new badge.
The provided infotainment is FCA’s Uconnect 5 with a 10.5-inch touchscreen and Apple wireless CarPlay. With a nod to what is coming, there is also the introduction of Adaptive Cruise Control, intelligent speed limiting assistance and lane-keep assist, plus a driver drowsiness detector and a full 360-degree parking camera setup.
While Fiat has announced that they are going electric only with the new Fiat 500, the recently updated petrol engine 500 will continue to be sold alongside the EV version for a while, giving those customers not quite ready to head down the EV route another option. The launch model will be a highly spec’d version called La Prima and will retail at £29,000. A slightly retro choice of Mineral Grey, Celestial Blue and Ocean Green paint colours will be available, along with eco-leather trim and attractive 17-inch alloys.
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