Fiat has officially unveiled the new 500 - an electric-only take on its iconic city car.
The third generation Fiat 500 is instantly recognisable as a 500 but beneath the gently revised exterior is a completely new battery electric platform.
When it goes on sale the new 500 will be the first all-electric model from the FCA group and go up against the likes of the Honda e and Mini Electric in the urban EV market.
Fiat says that the new car’s designers started with a blank sheet of paper but you wouldn’t guess that to look at it. The front is more upright, the lights are split by the bonnet line and the door handles sit flush in the panel but it’s still immediately identifiable as a Fiat 500.
Mild changes to the looks aside, the new car is 6cm longer and 6cm wider than the second-generation. There’s more space inside for driver and passengers, plus an all-new interior design that echoes the shape of the old car but adds a more futuristic, less retro feel.
The major talking point of the new Fiat 500, however, is the drivetrain. A single 87kW (117bhp) electric motor drives the front wheels. Top speed is 93mph, 0-62mph takes nine seconds but more importantly for city-dwellers 0-31mph takes just 3.1 seconds. A 42kwH battery sandwiched in the floor offers a WLTP range of 199 miles, substantially more than either the Honda e (136) or Mini Electric (144) and closer to the Peugeot e-208 (211). All electric Fiat 500s come with an 85kW charger as standard, allowing owners to add 30 miles of range in just five minutes, and 80 per cent of capacity in 35 minutes.
Three driving modes meet different requirements. Normal behaves like a regular combustion-engined vehicle while Range activates the one-pedal drive function - like Nissan’s e-Pedal - that means you can drive most of the time without touching the brake. The ridiculously named Sherpa mode is designed to eke out the maximum range, limiting top speed to 50mph, deactivating the climate control and dulling the throttle response.
Like all EVs, the Fiat 500 has to make a synthesised noise to alert pedestrians to its presence at low speeds. In a stroke of genius/madness, rather than the sci-fi whoosh selected by most manufacturers, Fiat says the new 500 will play the music of Amarcord by Nino Rota when travelling at less than 12mph.
The first models available will be top-spec La Prima editions, which can be ordered now. All convertibles, the high-end cars will feature exclusive paint options, all-LED lighting, adaptive cruise control, lane centring assist, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, eco-leather upholstery and a 360-degree parking camera. They also come with a £29,000 price tag, after the plug-in car grant.
For drivers not ready to make the leap to pure EV, the current generation Fiat 500, complete with mild hybrid option, will continue to be sold alongside the third-gen car for an unspecified period.