Read Caroline’s Fiat 500e review for everything you need to know about buying Fiat’s new electric city car in Ireland.

The Fiat 500 has been a huge success for Fiat since it was relaunched as the new 500 back in 2007. It’s stayed popular throughout, while only being mildly revised over the years. Various special editions and cosmetic updates have kept it just as desirable as the day it was launched. It’s clearly one of the most recognisable small cars on Irish roads.

At Changing Lanes, I’ve had the opportunity to follow the story of the 500 since about 2013 when I first tested the petrol version and since then I’ve tested it in many of its different iterations.

The 500 is the quintessential city car and now it’s back for a new generation. The big news is that Fiat has taken the plunge and created a fully electric version of the 500 – the new Fiat 500e. Let’s take a closer look.

The Fiat 500e on test for Changing Lanes!
The Fiat 500e on test for Changing Lanes!

What’s so special about the Fiat 500e?

There are two battery sizes available – 24kWh and 42kWh. Go for that Fiat 500e 24kWh and you have one of the cheapest electric cars on sale right now. It’s priced from just €24,995 including grants and VRT relief. The catch? The range is just 190 kilometres (WLTP). It might work as a second car or if the car will stay in the city only.

The Fiat 500e 42kWh offers more flexibility with a projected range of up to 320 kilometres (WLTP) and is priced from €29,995.

This is one of the most stylish small electric cars on sale right now. It sits on a new platform. It’s a bit longer, taller and wider…but still tiny, measuring less than four metres in length. That makes the 500e the ideal city car, zero tailpipe emissions too. It’s easy to park and manoeuvre around tight city streets.

The car has also matured well in terms of design. There’s no mistaking it’s a 500 but it somehow has more presence and a cooler stance on the road.  At the front, there is a new split lighting design that adds character, while at the rear, there’s a big bumper and new lights.

There are three trim levels – Action, Icon and La Prima – with wheel sizes varying from 15- to 17-inch depending on what model you go for. There’s even a very striking Red special edition of the car that comes packed with equipment.

So a charismatic small car that also happens to be electric.

The Fiat 500e is available with two battery sizes
The Fiat 500e is available with two battery sizes

Inside the Fiat 500e

The Fiat 500e has a brand new interior that has been modernised in line with this car’s new status as a battery electric vehicle. There’s a new two-spoke steering wheel and digital instrument cluster for the driver displaying relevant information including the status of the battery.

On all but the entry model there is an impressive 10-inch touchscreen using Fiat’s Uconnect system. It has lots of functionality and all versions get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The cabin is bright and airy thanks to large windows and windscreen.

There is quite a lot of exposed hard plastic in the cabin but that’s mixed with some nicer materials like fabric trim in the dashboard panel and some lovely eco-leather seats in top of the range La Prima models. Some of the fabrics available across the range are made from recycled materials too.

This is a small car but up front it feels roomy for two people with some handy storage compartments. In the back it’s a different story, but children should be fine. There’s Isofix on the two seats in the rear but it’s hardly a car you buy if you use the back of the car regularly as legroom and headroom are in short supply. There’s also Isofix on the front passenger seat.

The boot is about standard for the city car class at 185 litres and is enough to carry a few bags.

The interior of the Fiat 500e La Prima
The interior of the Fiat 500e La Prima

Driving the 500 Electric

Versions with a 24kWh battery have 95hp, while versions with a 42kWh battery have 118hp. Yet there’s not much between them in terms of real on the road performance and the Fiat 500e feels nippy and capable. In fact if you’re used to driving a petrol 500, the electric version feels so much more responsive and smoother to drive.

The steering is light as you would expect from a city car and the Fiat 500 electric is fun to drive just by being a small car. It’s not the most comfortable small car on the market and it does bounce around a bit over any bumps or imperfections in the road surface. It’s not a dealbreaker if you like the car, but certainly frustrating over a long journey on a motorway for example. Yet this is a city car and that’s where it’s really at its best.

In real world driving, 270 kilometres is definitely possible on a full battery and driving at low speeds around town will prolong your range for longer. Fast charging is available up to 85kW getting you to 80% battery charge in about 35 minutes. While it takes just over six hours to charge the 500e to full from a standard 7.4kW wallbox at home.

There are also driving modes included – Normal, Range and Sherpa. The Range mode is like one pedal driving so you can control the car with just the accelerator. When you lift off the accelerator, the car will gradually bring itself to a stop. It makes city driving effortless.

The Sherpa mode is used to conserve your range when you find yourself trying to reach your destination on the last few kilometres of range. It turns off the air conditioning and reduces the top speed of the vehicle to 80km/h.

Fast charging is available for the 500e up to 85kW
Fast charging is available in the 500e up to 85kW

Did you like it?

The Fiat 500e is one of the most stylish small electric cars on sale right now. Fans of the petrol 500 will just love this electric version. It looks better and is even more enjoyable to drive now.

The interior has also had a great revamp and there are lots of nice trims available and cool digital features like the 10-inch touchscreen.

Like all these small electric cars, you will still pay more for one of these than the equivalent small petrol car. The 500 is certainly not the most practical small electric car on sale at the moment. Some others are bigger and nicer to drive too overall.

Yet, the Fiat 500 was always the car you bought because you wanted a small, trendy car to drive around town in. It still very much is, though not as cheap as before. Except now it’s ready for the future too.

Model tested: Fiat 500e 42kWh La Prima
Range: 320km (WLTP)
Power: 118hp
Torque: 220Nm
Top speed: 150km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year


Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes