The Fiat 500 has regained its emblematic status in its modern form introduced in 2007 as a chic and agile urban vehicle with retro-inspired styling. Fifteen years later, the ICE-powered model is still offered for sale in mild-hybrid form, but the spotlight is on another 500: the fully electric one. The brand new generation first appeared in 2020 and while I was present at the European launch held in Turin in 2021, this week I am going to be spending more with it, testing its capacity as a daily driver.
Our press car is not the flagship “La Prima”, nor does it come with the quirky 3+1 bodystyle, but it is the mid-spec RED edition recently added to the range as part of Fiat’s collaboration with the RED pandemic-fighting organization.
Setting aside the obvious Passione Red exterior shade (surprisingly not the only option for the RED trim), the special edition comes with red badges all around, multi-spoke 16-inch wheels, and the not-so-fancy halogen headlights beneath the bonnet-mounted LED DRLs.
Inside, the driver’s seat is red, contrasting the rest of the Sequal Marine Plastic upholstery and matching the piping and the body-colored dashboard. At least the RED comes with the largest-available 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen combined with a 7-inch digital instrument cluster.
The pandemic-fighting character of the RED trims is highlighted in the special biocide substance applied on the air cabin filter, the steering wheel, and the seats, killing 99.9% of the bacteria and viruses, plus a Welcome Kit with a liquid dispenser and a key cover.
The Fiat 500 RED gets an extra “Sanitizing Glove Box” system with a UV-C lamp in the glove compartment sanitizing items on demand with the touch of a button. Unfortunately, our press car was an early order and doesn’t have this feature, limiting our healthcare-related bragging rights.
The 500 RED is available with both battery capacities / electric motor outputs, but thankfully we got our hands on the more potent one that can go further so we hopefully won’t be getting any range anxiety. The larger 42 kWh battery is offering an advertised WLTP range of 321 km (199 miles), while the front-mounted electric motor produces 117 hp (87 kW / 118 PS) and 220 Nm (162 lb-ft) of instant torque. Mind you, the Fiat 500 is based on an FCA-developed EV-dedicated platform and not in one of Stellantis’ modular architectures.
In the next few days, I will be driving the electric 500 in its natural habitat, namely city streets, but I will also give it a go on twisty roads and highways to see how well it performs in all different tasks, as modern urban vehicles go.
On paper, the only direct competitor to the electric Fiat 500 is the VW e-Up!, but I will also compare it with the slightly larger four-door Honda e I recently reviewed, plus ICE-powered city cars as benchmarks of ease of use, flexibility, and practicality. Feel free to write any questions you may have about Fiat’s sole electric model, and we’ll make sure we come back with the answers.