Sunday, 24 October 2021

Style’s what steals it for the 500

Style’s what steals it for the 500

I HAVE always been a big fan of the Fiat 500 and see no reason to change that view after a week spent driving the all-new Fiat 500 Electric.

Like all electric vehicles (EVs), there could still to my mind be an issue over range but this is all to do with what your driving life entails.

In my experience — widening now as more EVs come on to the market — the electric car is ideal for short trips around city and town and beats conventional cars on this front.

If you have a short commute to work by car — say up to around 25 miles — then a car like the Fiat 500 Electric could be perfect.

But key to owning an EV, of course, is the availability of charging points and this begins at home with a dedicated domestic charging point installed at your home.

Then, if you have that 25-mile or so commute to work, you will need to be able to charge your EV while you are in the office. Every other kind of trip — for example, the long trip I did a week ago to visit relatives in London — could be a completely different ball game.

This is because although the best-range EVs now claim hundreds of miles between charges, it still may not be enough to cope comfortably with your real-world style of driving.

All that said, you could not fail to be impressed by the way Fiat has evolved this modern classic car — it was first produced 63 years ago — into a 21st Century electric vehicle.

It has all the attributes and more of the original Fiat 500 that I have admired over the years.

Oddly enough, it is the styling of this Fiat 500 Electric that stood out for me when I first took delivery of the car.

Both inside and out there are welcome accents on minimalist styling: the exterior displays recognisable 500 lines but with chunky, more defined shaping. I also noticed the car’s build is firmer as if employing stronger materials.

Inside, the car has the familiar look of the 500 yet this is more sophisticated, more in keeping with a 21st century model.

Indeed, when the new Fiat 500 Electric was launched, iconic Italian companies — Giorgio Armani, Bulgari and Kartell — combined to create three unique versions of the new 500.

This 500 is the first electric Fiat designed from the ground up and has been well received.

It won What Car? magazine’s Best Small Electric Car for the City award, was named Car of the Year by and has also been recognised as Auto Express magazine’s City Car of the Year.

The car provides features such as Level 2 Autonomous Driving technologies, a variety of battery options and claims a driving range of up to 199 miles under the WLTP test — the longest range of any electric city car on the market today.

To optimise charging time, the Fiat 500 Electric is equipped with an 85kW fast-charge system. It takes only five minutes to build up a sufficient energy reserve to travel 30 miles. Using a fast charger can also power the battery to 80 per cent in just 35 minutes. The Combo 2 socket, located on the rear right hand side panel of the car, has the ability to accept both AC and DC charging.

Home charging is also available. The launch edition of the 500 Electric came with an easyWallbox, a home charging system that can be connected to a normal home outlet.

This simple, accessible “plug-and-charge” feature can be managed via Bluetooth. It can stabilise energy load by charging a 500 at home with up to 3kW of charging power, without the need for professional installation.

The easyWallbox can be upgraded to 7.4kW, providing a full charge at home in just over six hours. The Fiat 500 Electric also comes with a Mode 3 cable for charging at up to 11kW from a public charge point.

The model has three driving modes — Normal, Range and Sherpa — which can be selected to suit your driving style or requirements.

Normal mode is as close as possible to driving a vehicle with a normal combustion engine, while Range mode activates the “one-pedal-drive” function. By selecting this driving mode, the new 500 can be driven with the accelerator pedal alone.

The brake pedal must be used to bring the car to a complete stop. However, with daily use and a little experience, it is possible to drive using just the accelerator pedal.

Sherpa mode optimises the available resources to reduce fuel consumption to a minimum, enabling it to reach the destination set on the navigation system or the nearest charging station.

This driving mode adjusts various parameters: maximum speed is limited to 50mph; accelerator response is managed in order to reduce energy consumption; and both the climate control system and heated seats are deactivated (the driver has the option of activating them at any time).

The electric motor has an output of 87kW, providing a maximum speed of 93mph and acceleration from nought to 62mph in nine seconds and nought to 31mph in 3.1 seconds.