2024 Fiat 500e First Drive: One Of The Most Refreshing EVs I’ve Driven In Years - SUV VEHICLE

2024 Fiat 500e First Drive: One Of The Most Refreshing EVs I’ve Driven In Years

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Summary

  • Small, lightweight EVs are more sustainable and efficient than big, flashy models.
  • The 2024 Fiat 500e is a fun, affordable urban runabout with zippy performance and a roomy interior despite limited cargo space.
  • Fiat’s 500e is a refreshing, charming option for urban commuters and second-car households, especially in highly subsidized regions like Canada.



Electric vehicles (EVs) may emit no tailpipe emissions, but that doesn’t give us a free pass to overuse the resources required to build them.

While some models like the ostentatious GMC Hummer EV or the Tesla Cybertruck have allowed themselves to be big, brash and over-the-top with no apology, if we end up wasting resources just to satisfy Uncle Sam, we’re going to end up with a whole different set of environnemental problems.

I’m a big fan of the philosophy that EVs need to be small, lightweight and powered by small-capacity batteries in order to reduce the amount of resources required to build them. Sure, it’s true that 95% (and soon more) of a lithium-ion battery can be recycled, but if the resources required to build a single Hummer can get us two small EVs instead, then aren’t we all better off?


In comes the 2024 Fiat 500e. It’s the third-generation of the now legendary Cinquecento, an Italian icon that left our market in 2019. It’s back, but uniquely as an EV and with a very tiny carbon footprint. While it may not suit everyone’s needs, I’m here to tell you it’s precisely what the auto industry needs at the moment.

2024 Fiat 500e Front Three Quarter-1
2024 Fiat 500e

The Fiat 500 is back for a third generation, but this time, it’s only available in fully electric form. It’s still the same charming package as before; small, lightweight and immensely fun to drive. The 500e may not boast a lot of range, nor can it carry as many people as an SUV, but this cute urban runabout is one of the most affordable electric vehicles currently on sale. 

Model
500e

Engine
AC Three-Phase With Permanent Magnetic Rotor

Horsepower
87 KW / 117 HP

Torque
162 LB-FT

MSRP
$32,500

Transmission
Single-Speed Direct Drive

Driveline
FWD

Range
149 Miles

MSRP (As Tested)
$32,500

Charge Time
Level 2: 6 Hours 0 To 100% / Level 3: 35 Minutes 0 To 80%
Pros
  • An EV bargain, especially in highly subsidized regions.
  • Zippy and always fun to drive.
  • Surprisingly roomy and comfortable.
Cons
  • Almost non-existent rear seats and trunk.
  • Finicky regenerative braking.
  • Lacks a battery preconditioning system.

Fiat flew me down to Miami, paid for my hotel and loaned me a 500e press unit for a day to review. For detailed insight into testing procedures and data collection, please review our
methodology policy
.


2024 Fiat 500e First Impressions


Although the new Fiat 500e appears to be essentially a facelift of the old car, it’s actually all-new from the ground up. It even rides on a new, EV-dedicated platform called the STLA Small architecture. This time around, it was designed by Lorenzo Battisti and Dario Pellegrino, contrary to gen-two, which was a Frank Stephenson effort.

Electrification didn’t seem to prevent Battisti and Pellegrino from being creative. They did a fantastic job of not offsetting the car’s signature look and size. The new 500e is actually 2.4 inches longer, 2.2 inches wider than before, and sits on a wheelbase that’s been slightly stretched by 0.87 inches. The car also is also about five inches taller.

Yet, it still looks adequately small, cute and very much the way a Fiat 500 should look. Fiat even made sure to integrate some neat design cues, like integrated LED eyelashes over the headlights, the Italian flag within the front side markers, classic FIAT badges and a rubber charge port cover that mimics a vintage fuel cap.


2024 Fiat 500e Grille

In this world of ever larger trucks and SUVs, I see the 500e as a breath of fresh air. It’s cheerful and always fun to look at, especially painted in red like my example. That red paint, by the way, symbolizes the RED trim level, which is the first to drop in the US and Canadian markets before fiat opens up the rest of the lineup later this year.

2024 Fiat 500e: Differences Between The US And Canadian Market

US Market

Canadian Market

RED ($32,500 USD)

RED ($39,995 CAD)

Inspired By Music ($36,000 USD – Available Q4 2024)

La Prima ($44,995 CAD – Available Q4 2024)

Inspired By Beauty ($36,000 USD – Available Q4 2024)


Exterior Dimensions

Length

142.95 in.

Width (including mirrors)

74.12 in.

Height

66.3 in.

Wheelbase

107.3 in.

Front Track

57.9 in.

Rear Track

57.7 in.

Curb Weight

2,952 lb.

Driving Impressions And Performance

2024 Fiat 500e Front Far


Fiat hosted journalists and content creators in Miami since it believes the 500e is first and foremost an urban vehicle. This meant that I only drove the car in the city and over a very limited distance. I will, of course, need to spend more time with it to give it a more thorough review.

My first driving impressions were, however, positive in the sense that the Fiat 500e drives exactly how I expected it to drive. It feels light on its feet, even if it’s an EV. It’s nimble, respectfully quick and immensely fun to drive. There isn’t much power and torque on tap from the front-mounted permanent-magnet electric motor – 117 horsepower and 162 lb-ft – but it’s enough for this little rascal to instantly scoot forward when hitting the accelerator.

2024 Fiat 500e Side Profile


The 500e has quick steering and a solid-feeling chassis, a refreshing quality over the flexy last-generation model. This allows the car to be huge fun to drive in tightly congested traffic. Its short wheelbase means you can place it where you want it with utmost confidence, but the rear torsion bar suspension setup did at times reveal cost-cutting.

The visibility is a little weird in this car, which sort of ruins the 500e’s city-oriented mission. The windshield’s shape leads to incredibly thick A pillars and the tiny side rear windows create massive blind spots.

The rear glass, however, feels like it’s right there behind your head, so rearward visibility is a non issue. It’s a little scary when a Ford F-150 pulls up quickly behind you, but at least, you’ll see it coming.


2024 Fiat 500e Rear Three Quarter

I also have a few minor gripes about the car’s regenerative braking system. You can’t really control it yourself as it’s dependent on the drive mode you’re in. There are three of those; Normal, which turns off regenerative braking, Range, which turns it on, and Sherpa, which goes a step further by turning off the car’s climate control and reducing overall power output for improved range.

Second, regenerative braking feels inconsistent. As the car slows down, the level of resistance changes. I eventually got used to that, but I did have to gauge when to release the accelerator before arriving at a halt. The good news is that you can, in fact, drive the 500e with only one pedal.


Performance Specifications

2024 Fiat 500e Electric Motor

Battery Type

Liquid-Cooled Lithium-Ion

Usable Battery Capacity

42 KWH

Level Two Home Charging Rate

11.0 KW

Fast Charging Rate

85 KW

Electric Motor Type

AC Three-Phase With Permanent Magnetic Rotor

Horsepower

117 HP

Torque

162 LB-FT

Transmission

1-Speed Direct Drive

0-60 MPH

NA

Top Speed

NA


2024 Fiat 500e Energy Consumption, Range And Charging

2024 Fiat 500e Headlights

On paper, Fiat promises 149 miles of EPA-rated range from a 42 kWh liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery. Level 2, home charging pulls at a rate of 11 kW, taking roughly six hours from 0 to 100%, as per Fiat’s claims. On a fast-charging unit, the car is good for 85 kW, which should take 35 minutes, give or take from 0 to 80%.

These are conservative figures by today’s EV standards, but the 500e’s redemption is that its battery is small, which means its charging times remain relatively low.


Again, since I was in a controlled environment, I couldn’t properly assess the 2024 Fiat 500e’s range, energy consumption and charging capability. I’ll need to do this myself when I get a press unit for an entire week. I ended my run with an energy consumption average of 101 MPGe, a tad over the official numbers from Natural Resources Canada (the EPA still hasn’t published official numbers for the 500e on its website).

Energy Consumption Data

City

Highway

Combined

EPA/Natural Resources Canada Rated Energy Consumption

118 MPGe

98 MPGe

112 MPGe

Energy Consumption As Tested

101 MPGe

Interior Design And Comfort


Just like its predecessor, the 500e is a festival of nostalgic design. The irony here is that although the original 500 from the 1950s had a minimalist interior because it had to, for cost-cutting, this new one does this on purpose to remind us of its origins.

Sure, there are some cheap plastics here and there, but the overall layout is neatly presented. I personally find this to be even better than the last car. Electrification and today’s technology gave the designers even more freedom to explore the retro theme.

2024 Fiat 500e Full Dashboard


For instance, the steering wheel is properly skinny, with a tiny central hub, like the original. The car’s dashboard is painted the same color as the car’s body. There are storage solutions all over that cabin, and since most of the car’s features can be controlled via the infotainment screen, Fiat was able to reduce the number of physical buttons, giving it a similar utilitarian look and feel to its ancestor.

The cabin’s best quality, however, isn’t its design, but rather the considerably improved seating position. The last car felt like you were sitting on a bar stool, while this one allows even the tallest of drivers to sink within the cabin thanks to seats that can be lowered way down. You feel a lot more like you’re driving the car instead of sitting on top of it.

2024 Fiat 500e Seats

The front seating area is also surprisingly spacious and airy given the car’s small size, but if two big people are sitting side-by-side, you will feel the narrowness of this machine.


As for the rear seat, well, honestly, you might as well forget about it unless you’re under five years of age. It’s really only there for children or to stow a pair of bags. The 500e is also only available as a three-door, so forget all hopes of easily squeezing your adult frame back there.

Interior Dimensions

Front

Rear

Headroom

39.3 in.

35.35 in.

Shoulder Room

51 in.

47.8 in.

Hip Room

49.8 in.

45.2 in.

Legroom

41.8 in.

29.5 in.

Technology And Ease Of Use


The Fiat 500e gets Stellantis’ latest UConnect 5 infotainment system, which is both good and bad news. On paper, it’s a great system in the sense that it’s compatible with over-the-air (OTA) updates, integrates a full myriad of features and apps and can be tailored according to the conglomerate’s different brands.

For instance, for this car, Fiat has integrated some cute and useful menus to monitor energy consumption and range. The entire interface looks the part, with neat graphics and generally easy to grasp features and apps.

2024 Fiat 500e Digital Display


It’s the same story for the digital gauge pod which, again, tries to mimic the classic design theme through a gauge-within-a-gauge approach. The layout can then be changed between a more simplistic or detailed display. One can even put the navigation map on that tiny screen.

Sadly, the car I was driving showed some inconsistent lag. Hitting some icons took a while before they reacted. Even the drive mode selector didn’t always wake up when I was hitting the toggle. Obviously, this will eventually get flushed out through OTA, but considering how simple the 500e’s technology is, it’s a bit worrying to see it perform so poorly.

Cargo And Storage Space

2024 Fiat 500e Cargo Space


Sure, the 500e is a hatchback, but it’s also very tiny, so don’t expect this thing to haul much. It’s also particularly alarming to realize that although the car is a bit longer than the model it replaces, it actually loses two cubic-inches of cargo space over the car it replaces. It’s smaller back there than in the trunk of its main competitor, the 2024 MINI Cooper three-door (8.7 cu-ft).

Minimum Cargo Capacity (Rear Seat In Place)

7.5 cu-ft

How The 2024 Fiat 500e Compares To Its Competition

2024 Fiat 500e Taillights-1

With the Chevrolet Bolt EV now gone, the Fiat 500e faces only two real rivals in the urban, low-range EV space: the MINI Cooper SE and the Nissan LEAF.

However, since this car is mainly a nod to its past, and focuses mostly on styling and lifestyle, I think it’s fair to say that its most important nemesis is the all-electric 2024 MINI Cooper SE.


2024 Fiat 500e Versus 2024 MINI Cooper SE

Gray MINI Cooper SE Electric Charging
MINI

Although the European market has already begun receiving the fourth-generation MINI Cooper, our model remains unchanged for the 2024 model year.

That MINI kicks off at a slightly lower price point than the Fiat, $30,900 versus $32,500. We’ve established that the car offers a bit more trunk space. Rear legroom is also just a bit higher at 30.8 inches versus 29.5, and the Cooper is a more powerful car with 181 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque on tap.

Mini Cooper SE Resolute Edition standing still
MINI


However, the Fiat offers more range, 149 miles instead of 109. It also charges faster thanks to its 85-kW fast-charging rate. Meanwhile, the MINI is limited to 50 kW. At the end of the day, these are very comparable cars that balance each other out due to their similar characteristics. Your choice will depend on your preference for one design over the other.

Related
10 Things To Know About The Mini Cooper SE Electric

The Mini Cooper SE Electric is a viable option to consider in the realm of EVs.

The Way An Electric Vehicle Should Be

2024 Fiat 500e Rear Three Quarter 001

Fiat prides itself on the fact that the 500e is what an electric vehicle should be, and I totally stand behind that claim. We don’t all need big and flashy utility vehicles for our daily grind. If you’re single, in a relationship without children, or your household is simply looking for a second car for urban commuting, then this makes a heck of a lot of sense.


The 500e is also an EV bargain, especially in areas where EV incentives are strong. Sadly, in the US, it’s not eligible for the $7,500 tax credit on electric cars because it’s not built in the US. It’s built in Turin, Italy, because, you know, it’s a Fiat.

But if you live in Canada, you’ll get $5,000 shaved off the final sales price. In heavily subsidized provinces, like Quebec, add an extra $7,000 to that stack, as long as you purchase the car by the end of this year.

2024 Fiat 500e Rear Logo


Whether you buy a 500e for its low price or low carbon footprint, there’s no denying how charming this thing is. It ended up being one of the most refreshing EVs I’ve driven in years. Of course, I’ll need to spend more time with it for a more in-depth analysis, but I reckon that due to its low price, zero-emission promise and downright cute demeanor, it could be a hit with fans of small cars.

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