Fiat 500 Returns as Grown-Up, All-Electric City Car

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【Summary】Don’t hold your breath for this all-electric Fiat 500 to come to the U.S., but for consumers in Europe, it certainly looks like a charming, usable EV.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Apr 15, 2020 6:00 AM PT
Fiat 500 Returns as Grown-Up, All-Electric City Car

Before the end of 2019, Fiat discontinued the 500 for North America. With the popularity of SUVs in full swing and Fiat not doing all that well in sales, it wasn't surprising to see that decision. At the time, we were interested to see what Fiat would do with the 500e. Now, we have our answer. Fiat just released the third generation of the tiny 500 hatchback and it's electric only.

Fiat 500 Grows In All Ways

We were supposed to see the new 500 at the Geneva Motor Show, but that was canceled due to the outgoing coronavirus outbreak around the world. With the Swiss government banning events of large groups of people at a single time, Fiat decided to reveal the new 500 via a livestream event.

A lot is different with the new 500. Firstly, the vehicle is no longer differentiated by an "e" at the end of its name. The previous electric 500 was called the 500e, but that changes going forward, which has us believing that a gas-powered 500 isn't in the cards.  

The next thing, and this is the largest surprise, is the large jump in range. The original 500e had a pitiful range of just 84 miles on a single charge. Fiat managed to boost the new 500's range up to 200 miles according to Europe's WLTP tests, which is impressive. The extra range comes from a 42-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, while an 85-kWh fast charger is also included in the mix. Fiat claims that the proper fast charger can return 31 miles of range in five minutes of charging. Those are meaningful upgrades over the previous 500e.

Power is rated at up to 117 horsepower. That's enough juice to get the new 500 to 62 mph from a standstill in roughly nine seconds. Tesla doesn't have anything to worry about here. Top speed is limited at 93 mph.

Sticking To Its Roots

The 500 is an automotive icon, so it's nice to see that the automaker has stuck to the model's roots by maintaining the same bulbous design as the one the vehicle wore decades ago. While the general shape remains the same, Fiat has made many changes to the 500's body to make it look fresher. It's slightly bigger than before, measuring in at 2.4 inches longer and 2.4-inches wider than before. The round headlights at the front have now been split in two thanks to the redesigned grille that leads seamlessly into the front bumper.

On the inside, the 500 drops the cutesy design for a modern look with a large 10.25-inch infotainment screen that now features FCA's Uconnect 5 system. More safety features are available now, too, including adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. Beyond the tech, the move to an electric powertrain has done wonders for the cabin, which feels more open and spacious thanks to the lack of a gear selector and a more open center console.

For consumers in Europe, the new Fiat 500 is already on sale. But for those of us in the United States, things aren't as clear. Fiat hasn't confirmed or denied whether the little electric car will come to our market, but things don't look good. American consumers are more interested in EVs than ever before, but they want electrified versions of SUVs. With Fiat dropping the regular 500 in America last September, it would be nice to see the brand return with a swanky new EV, though.

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