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Fiat 500e 2024 review

Dylan Campbell

There’s a brand new Fiat 500 in town, but now with electric-only power. Does its new-school powertrain justify its not-very-pint-sized price?

Good points

  • Punchy, near-silent acceleration
  • Crisp, large central touchscreen
  • Decent potential city range
  • Funky retro styling
  • Reasonable value for an EV

Needs work

  • Poor three-year warranty
  • Big money for a pint-sized city car
  • Highway range limited
  • Ride quality can be firm
  • Row two is very cosy

One of the world’s oldest and most-loved cars, the Fiat 500, has gone all-electric – and it’s just arrived in Australia as one of the more attainable new EVs you can buy.

After a three-year wait – the 500e was launched in Europe in 2020 – Fiat says its new EV lands with “plenty of supply” meaning that there’s no need to join a queue that goes around the corner like some electric rivals.

And while it looks a bit like the existing Fiat 500 – with some sleepy eyelids – the 500e is built on a brand new platform with 96 percent of components changed. It’s a larger car, too – 29mm taller, 56mm wider, 61mm longer and with a 22mm-longer wheelbase, although it still sits firmly in the A-segment city-car class.

In Australia, the electric 500e will be sold alongside the older, petrol-powered 500 for the next little while, until the latter is discontinued in its current generation. There will be no more ICE 500s beyond that.

With a price of $52,500 before on-road costs and government subsidies, the 500e is one of Australia’s more affordable electric models, slotting in above cut-price EVs from brands such as BYD and Great Wall but substantially below choices such as the $64,975 Mini SE Yours.

Unlike some internal combustion Fiat 500s you can still buy today that are made in Poland and Mexico, the 500e is manufactured in Turin, Italy.

Chasing Cars got behind the wheel for the first time at the electric 500’s Australian launch in Sydney, NSW.

What are the 500e’s features and options for the price?

For now, there’s only one grade: the La Prima (meaning “the first”). For $52,500 – again, before on-road costs and electric vehicle subsidies, which vary state-by-state – equipment highlights include:

  • 17-inch wheels
  • Sunroof
  • Heated front seats
  • 7.0-inch digital instrument display
  • 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Reversing camera

There are just two options – premium paint ($700) and one ultra-premium hero colour, the tri-coat Celestial Blue ($1600).

Curiously, the 500e misses out on electrically-adjustable front seats – they’re fully manual – and only the passenger gets a vanity mirror, and one without a light.

How does the 500e drive?

It’s good – quite fun, even. The electric motor has made the 500e a much better city runabout, a combination that works a treat and feels more well-suited to inner city running about than if it had internal combustion.

After you’ve jumped in, you simply press ‘on’, select D using one of the dash-mounted transmission buttons and off you go.

Like all electric cars, the 500e moves away smoothly, near-silently and eagerly. Its small size makes it easy to drive in traffic, even if the ride quality can be a bit firm. On that, the suspension is a tad noisy as it thuds over harsher bumps and sharp-edged road imperfections.

We loved using the electric motor to punch into and out of gaps in traffic. The 500e’s single motor produces 87kW and 220Nm and drives the front wheels only.

Fiat claims the 500e will dispatch the 0-100km/h sprint in 9.0 seconds. We’d be keen to test its 0-60km/h time, though, as its off-the-line squirt would surely rival that of ICE hot hatches from yesteryear.

It’s so brisk off the mark, you’ll be much too tempted to slink into the far-left lane at red lights, even if they merge very shortly after. The 500e can easily and silently out-blast most regular, family-spec internal combustion cars and would probably embarrass a few old-school V8s, too.

Especially in our test example’s optional Rose Gold pink paintwork.

As is standard EV fare, there are different regeneration braking modes, albeit only two and each tied to broader powertrain modes.

Normal has minimal regeneration but Range mode offers ‘one-pedal’ driving, meaning merely lifting off the accelerator brings on battery regeneration as strong as normal braking.

There is no Sport mode and no artificial powertrain noise pumped into the cabin, although externally there is an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) speaker producing a low, anonymous hum to warn pedestrians of vehicle movement.

At all other times, there is merely a muted hum or whine from the electric motor under acceleration, and some present tyre and wind noise.

At 1290kg in weight, it’s heavy for a 500 but very lithe for a pure EV. This translates to a recipe for sprightly handling, with the bulk of the underpinning mass located low in the car.

The turning circle is nice and tight – perfect for the city – and, at just 3.6 metres long, it’s able to squeeze into most parking spots. Expected inclusions for its price are the fitted front and rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera.

One thing we didn’t love was that, in Range mode, the ‘one-pedal’ braking effect is simply too aggressive at very low speeds, almost making the brakes feel like they were sticking.

It’s annoying enough that you won’t forget to reselect Normal mode when approaching a car park.

What is the 500e’s interior and tech like?

The very first thing you notice getting into the 500e are the so-called ‘e-latch’ doors – meaning you simply place your fingers into the exterior door handle recess and pull gently, and they electrically open.

While this reduces the effort to open the doors by only the tiniest amount, it’s still cool. Inside, to get out, you just press a little button and the doors electrically pop open.

From the driver’s seat, the cabin is light and airy thanks to the large side windows, large (standard) sunroof and the abundant Ice Beige off-white cabin trim.

According to Fiat, the 500e has 42mm more elbow room for front occupants compared to the previous 500, and you do notice it. While still a small car with a cosy interior, the extra space is appreciated, though some might find the pedals still feel a bit too close.

Ahead of the twin-spoke steering wheel – a salute to the original 1957 500, says Fiat – there’s a 7.0-inch digital instrument display. Beside that, there’s a smart-looking, slim 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with a lovely, bright, crisp resolution.

Below the media screen is a well-placed cubby for your phone with a wireless charging pad. Impressively, there’s both wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the as-tested CarPlay format integrates into the horizontal screen very nicely.

Materials-wise, the steering wheel and dash are wrapped in a convincing, imitation faux-leather, however you can find hard, scratchy plastics easy to find and they even creep up the entire height of the door.

It’s a bit of a cheap effect for such a pricey car and soft door-toppers would not have gone astray.

All in all, the 500e is a pleasant place to be with the screens lending a high-tech feel, and the artificial leather a dash of luxe.

Just don’t think of it as a four-seater. It’s almost more of a two-plus-two, what with its very snug second row.

Not only are rear passengers cramped, but there are no rear USB outlets – at all – and no rear air-vents. There’s no centre armrest, the seats feel a bit thinly padded and headroom is tight, even for an average-sized person.

The 500e’s back seats are for kids only, for adults on short trips, or simply for luggage.

With the second row up, the boot is a fairly small 185 litres. If there are just two occupants, the rear 50-50 split-fold seats easily fold to reveal an enormous 550-litre luggage space. Unlike some other electric models, there is no under-bonnet luggage space.

The 500e comes with a puncture repair kit, rather than a space-saver or full-size spare wheel/tyre.

Meanwhile for recharging, the 500e accepts a maximum of 11kW AC, meaning with an (aftermarket) at-home wall-box, it can be replenished from flat to full in about four hours.

The maximum DC rate is a relatively low 85kW, getting you from flat to 80 percent charge in around 35 minutes.

Is the 500e a safe car?

The 2024 500e is a very safe car for its A-segment size. It comes with a range of standard safety equipment, including the following:

  • Forwards AEB with vehicle, cyclist and pedestrian detection
  • Speed limit sign recognition
  • Lane keeping aid with steering support
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Tyre pressure monitoring 
  • Hill start assist
  • Driver attention alert
  • Forward collision warning 
  • AVAS acoustic vehicle alert system
  • Six airbags
  • Blind-spot assist
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Rain-sensing wipers

The 500e scored four stars in Euro NCAP crash-testing in 2021, a good result for such a small car. Fiat Australia is unlikely to supply a 500e to ANCAP for local crash testing.

What are the 500e’s ownership costs?

Servicing is every 12 months or 15,000km with prices capped at $250/year for the first eight years – which is very cheap. Fiat includes three years complimentary roadside assistance.

The 500e comes with a three-year, 150,000 kilometre warranty – one of the poorest in Australia. If you like to upgrade your car every four years or so, consider the impact of the three-year warranty on depreciation. That said, the battery is covered by an eight-year, 160,000km warranty.

As ever with electric vehicles, range is the big question. Thanks to its 42kWh lithium-ion battery pack (37.3kWh useable), Fiat claims the 500e can cover 311km on the WLTP cycle, although how far you actually get depends on how you use it.

If you intend to drive your 500e on the motorway for long stretches, you might get significantly less than that – especially if you’re blasting the heater or air-conditioning. If you don’t have a home charger, that might mean you can brave public recharging infrastructure a little less often.

The honest verdict on the 500e

The 500e feels much more mature and polished than the previous Fiat 500 launched in 2007.

An electric motor has made it a much better city car, and not just because it’s leaving the local air a little cleaner and the streets a little quieter.

You don’t have to wait for it to warm up, switching from drive to reverse and back is seamless and instant, and the electric motor is much better at getting you out of any tricky situations.

At $52,500 before on-road costs, the only cheaper EVs are from brands without the same cachet or street cred as Fiat, such as BYD, MG and Great Wall. And compared to the funky 500e, the $50,990 Nissan Leaf is about as cool as an algebra-themed birthday cake.

The bigger issue is size. All of its EV rivals are much more convincing four-seaters and have larger, more usable boots. For the same price, what you gain with retro styling and the made-in-Italy cache, you lose in size and practicality.

In Europe, there is a cheaper model with a 24kWh (21.3kWh usable) battery pack and much less range, but there’s no word on Australian prospects for now. Same, too, for the quirky “3+1” model with a little reverse-opening rear door on the driver’s side, like a Hyundai Veloster.

The 500e cabrio, however, is an almost sure bet to eventually hit Aussie shores.

As good as it is in the city, we would recommend thinking twice about the little 500e if you do a lot of freeway kays – stumping up an extra $5K for something like a Tesla Model 3 would be more sensible.

We’d also like to see Fiat back itself more and extend its Australian warranty to at least five years with unlimited kilometres.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

87kW at 0rpm
220Nm at 0rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
0 litres
Front Wheel Drive
Single gear
3632 mm
1683 mm
1527 mm
Unoccupied weight
1365 kg

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