THE funky Fiat 500 has always had iconic status and was the ‘must-have' city run-around for trend-setters in the late 1950s.
A second generation model followed in 2007 but now it has all changed again with an electric version.
It is the Fiat Group's first all-electric car and this third generation model of the 500 is completely new.
But it is not turning its back on its roots and Fiat has returned to the original birthplace of the 500 in Turin to build the car at the Mirafiori Plant.
With a range of up to 199 miles, Fiat claims the new reinvention of the car is more sustainable, connected and autonomous with engineers starting from a blank canvas.
There are four trim levels called Action, Passion, Icon and a limited-run, fully loaded launch model called La Prima. Prices range from Â£22,995 to Â£29,995 and there is also a choice of battery size - the 24kWh will be perfect if the car is being used mostly for city driving with its range of up to 115 miles and this is available on the entry-level Action models.
If longer trips are more likely, then the bigger 42kWh battery will be best suited with its range of up to 199 miles. The lower-powered car has a top speed of 84mph while the higher-powered models can reach 93mph. Both versions can sprint from 0-60mph in 9.0 seconds.
Lovers of open-top driving will be pleased to hear the 500 is also available in convertible guise in the top three trims with prices from £29,145 to £32,995. This makes it the only fully electric four-seater convertible currently on sale.
And it was the wind-in-the-hair driving experience we opted for by trying the 500 EV Cabriolet in Icon trim level, powered by the 42kWh battery, costing Â£27,645 after the Government's Â£3,000 Plug-in Car Grant had been deducted.
This 500 is the first FCA car to be kitted out with the new Uconnect 5 infotainment system which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and can be used in wireless mode too.
There is a neat 10.25-inch high-definition touchscreen with sharp graphics and a wealth of on-board kit to be explored, including TomTom navigation, a DAB radio, automatic air conditioning and a 7-inch digital display cluster.
Comfort levels are high with excellent driver visibility and all the controls, dials and readouts are perfectly positioned for ease of use.
There are three drive modes - Normal for everyday use, Range which increases the regenerative braking and means the car can be driven using just the accelerator pedal, and finally Sherpa which limits the speed to 50mph and cuts off features such as the air conditioning to maximise battery levels.
The material roof slides back and forth and lowers completely onto the boot lid at the press of a button. This can be completed at speeds of up to 62mph and takes just 25 seconds.
One of the most appealing features of the Fiat 500 over the years is its all-round fun factor and that is just as apparent in the latest generation of cars.
Despite its compact stature, the 500 has sharp acceleration with plenty of zip to tackle motorways or twisting country lanes. It is quick out of the starting blocks with instant torque as you drive along in complete silence.
The finger light steering is lovely in busier city centres with lots of weaving through traffic, but not so much fun on faster B roads where a little more feedback would be welcomed. And you do feel a little vulnerable on motorways with juggernauts thundering alongside.
But the new 500 has grown a little - it is 6cm wider, 6cm longer and the wheelbase has been increased by 2cm which all result in extra cabin space and more legroom for passengers.
The interior is upmarket in its design and layout and the seats are made from recycled materials so it's being kind to the environment too.
The Fiat 500 also offers level 2 autonomous driving with intelligent adaptive cruise control, lane centring, intelligent speed assist, blind spot monitoring, attention assist and 360-degree sensors to provide a drone-like view to avoid any obstacles when parking.
The upgrade in connectivity means many functions are now available on the Fiat 500. For example, there is My Remote to check the battery charge from a smartphone and schedule charging, lock or unlock the car and set the climate control.
My Navigation means you can set the route and see charge points along the way. My Assistant will call the breakdown services if needed. My Theft Assistance tracks the car. My Wi-Fi is a hotspot that connects up to eight devices and My Car checks the condition of the car from tyre pressures to scheduled service reminders.
All in all, Fiat has taken the success story that is the 500 model and improved on every aspect without compromising its character along the way. The new Fiat 500 is on sale now in EV or mild hybrid format with first deliveries due in March.
£27,645 (incl.£3,000 Government Plug-in Car Grant)
42kWh battery with electric motor and single speedtransmission