Electrifying new

Fiat 500

Fiat 500, 2020, front
Fiat 500, 2020, side
Fiat 500, 2020, rear
Fiat 500, 2020, motor
Fiat 500, 2020, instrument panel
Fiat 500, 2020, instrument panel, display
Fiat 500, 2020, instrument panel and steering wheel
Fiat 500, 2020, MPG-e display
Fiat 500, 2020, MPG-e display in instrument panel
Fiat 500, 2020, door release button
Fiat 500, 2020, charging
Fiat 500, 2020, boot
Fiat 500, 2020, Made in Turin, door pull
Fiat 500, 2020, Turin skyline, phone charging pad
Fiat 500, 2020, display screen, battery level
Fiat 500, 2020, display screen, power flow
Fiat 500, 2020, rear seats
Fiat 500, 2020, badge

THE Fiat 500 is a motoring legend and 63 years after it first appeared it is being reinvented for the electric age.

A new 500 will be on the road early in 2021 and not only is it fully electric it is also built at its spiritual home in Turin.

While conventionally powered versions will continue to be produced at Fiat's factory in Poland, the new zero emission model is coming off the line at the Miafiori plant where the original versions were produced.

The electric 500 has lost none of its iconic styling but is longer and wider and that translates into more space inside.

It's also finished in quality trim, comes in four specifications and has electronic door locks which further removes clutter. Manual releases are fitted should anything go wrong and these are nicely concealed towards the bottom of each door.

As before it's available as a hatch or convertible and prices start from £19,995 including the Government grant for electric cars.

The range tops out from £26,995 for La Prima grade models and that's the one we have just been sampling.

The car is available with two battery options - a 23.7kWh pack aimed more at city use and a 42kWh version with a longer range.

With the smaller battery fitted only to the entry level 500 it has a range of up to 112 miles on a full charge. The bigger battery extends that up to 199 miles and offers more performance.

In fact when it comes to acceleration the electric 500 is the quickest of all versions and has a 0 to 60 time of nine seconds at best - two seconds quicker than most of the conventionally powered models.

Top speed is adequate at 84mph for the lower powered model and the bigger battery gives a maximum of up to 93mph.

Recharging up to 80 per cent can be done in around half an hour from a fast charger although a full charge from a domestic supply can take more than 15 hours. The smaller battery version takes around eight hours to replenish.

As little electric cars go the 500 makes a fine job of its pollution free role and it comes with three drive modes to enable the driver to get the best out of its performance.

As well as a normal setting there are also Range and Sherpa modes with each of the latter offering more range.

In Range mode single pedal operation is possible with plenty of regenerative braking from the motor while the Sherpa setting is for maximum distance and switches off most ancillary functions such as air conditioning and restricts speed to 50mph.

On our 45 mile drive the car set off showing an available range of 159 miles in normal mode, 165 in the Range setting and 182 miles if Sherpa was selected.

At the end of the run those had diminished to 117 miles, 122 and 136 miles respectively which is a fair indication.

In La Prima specification the 500 is decidedly posh and well equipped for a city car with 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, a 10.25-inch display screen and a full set of safety features including automatic cruise control, lane centring and wireless phone charging all standard.

All models have a seven-inch TFT instrument cluster and the information relayed to the driver is not only very comprehensive but easy to read. There's even a setting which translates energy use into the equivalent of miles per gallon - although the software readout is in American mpg - which in our case was a healthy 167.6mpg showing after some 27 miles.

To convert that to its UK equivalent you have to multiply by 1.20095 so that comes back at 201.27 - even more impressive.

The new 500 is Fiat's first fully electric car and to mark its return to Turin the Italian car maker is making sure that is hammered home with features such as a relief of the city skyline in the phone charging pad and representation of the car in the door pulls, complete with a Made in Turin statement.

In every way the new 500 keeps alive all the heritage that has made the model so special since 1957 yet brilliantly moved it on to reflect the needs of the 21 Century - an electric car that is packed with class, usability and so importantly for Fiat, Italian panache.

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