First Drive: 2024 Fiat 500e Review - SUV VEHICLE

First Drive: 2024 Fiat 500e Review

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Miami, Fla. – After pulling the plug on its gas-powered lineup in North America, Fiat is making its return to the continent as an electrified brand. The first of the Italian automaker’s new EV approach is the 500e, a subcompact “city” car that has sold more than 185,000 units since it went on sale in global markets in 2020.

The 500e, which is Stellantis’ (parent company of Fiat) bestselling EV worldwide, is currently sold in 44 countries and has become the bestselling EV city car in numerous markets, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

2024 Fiat 500e RED front profile2024 Fiat 500e RED front profile
2024 Fiat 500e RED

For North America, the 500e, arriving in dealerships this spring, will be sold in three basic configurations: RED (base) and two upper-level grades, Inspired by Music and Inspired by Beauty. In Canada, the latter two will be combined into one La Prima trim.

Its small size and limited range won’t make sense for every EV buyer. But, if shoppers are looking for a second car that’s great for local driving, is easy to park and maneuver, and has loads of Italian style, the 500e just might be the car they’re looking for.

We recently attended the 500e press launch in Miami and spent about two hours behind the wheel of the base RED grade. This review will examine several key aspects of the car, including its design, powertrain, technology, and interior features, along with some general driving impressions and key takeaways.

Distinctive Fiat looks

2024 Fiat 500e RED rear profile2024 Fiat 500e RED rear profile
2024 Fiat 500e RED

Say this for Fiat cars, especially the 500, but they really don’t look like anything else on the road. Its look is immediately recognizable as a Fiat, and the company has leaned strongly into the 67-year history of the 500, with design cues that feel both modern and classic.

Like the gas version that was sold in North America previously, the 500e has a similar stubby profile, with an upright hatchback body style that’s in keeping with the car’s history. Fiat designers have updated the front grille, flattened the car’s nose and hood, and added standard LED lighting at the front and rear. The 500e also wears standard 17-inch diamond-cut aluminum wheels. 

An Electric Fiat 500 With All-New EV Platform

2024 Fiat 500e RED logo on rear2024 Fiat 500e RED logo on rear
2024 Fiat 500e RED

The 500e is built on Stellantis’ new STLA City architecture, which is designed to optimize weight and aerodynamics for better range, along with an improved ride, and reduced noise, vibration, and harshness. 

The platform also aims for better handling, a better driving position with improved rear seat access, and its high-voltage battery has been designed to maximize cabin space.

Of note, the 500e is 2.4 inches (61 mm) longer and 2.2 inches (56 mm) wider than the previous gas-powered 500, and it rides on a wheelbase that has grown by 0.87 inches (22 mm). As a result, the front seats are 1.65 inches (42 mm) wider, and front passengers have 0.4 inches (10 mm) more headroom.

Powertrain

2024 Fiat 500e RED engine2024 Fiat 500e RED engine
2024 Fiat 500e RED

Powering all 500e models is an 87-kWh electric motor that’s paired with a 42-kWh high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack that drives the front wheels. Output is rated at 117 horsepower and 162 lb-ft. of torque. Total range is 149 miles / 227 kilometers, and the car will support DC fast charging up to 85 kW. The 500e comes with three driving modes: normal, range, and sherpa. 

2024 Fiat 500e’s High-Tech Interior

2024 Fiat 500e RED interior front2024 Fiat 500e RED interior front
2024 Fiat 500e RED

In Miami, Fiat reps told us that simplifying the 500e’s model lineup was a key goal, and part of that was achieved by paring back the number of options. Essentially, this means a lot of standard equipment. Among these are a seven-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen, wireless cell phone charge pad, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Heated front seats are also standard in Canada.

2024 Fiat 500e RED seats up close2024 Fiat 500e RED seats up close
2024 Fiat 500e RED

Upper-level Inspired by and La Prima models offer items such as body-colored mirror caps, leather seating, JBL seven-speaker audio with subwoofer, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and more.

Pricing

The 2024 500e offering is essentially the same in both the U.S. and Canada, but the trims are packaged differently. There are three distinct trims in the U.S., and two for Canada. In the U.S., the base RED grade is available in three colors: Red, Tuxedo Black, and Glacier White.

2024 Fiat 500e RED front grill2024 Fiat 500e RED front grill
2024 Fiat 500e RED

The Inspired by Music grade is sold in Tuxedo Black only, while the Inspired by Beauty trim is only available in Rose Gold. In Canada, the RED grade is the available in the same three colors as the U.S. market, but the other two trims have been merged into one La Prima grade.

The 500e base MSRP, excluding freight, dealer fees, and taxes is as follows: 

  • U.S. – $32,500
  • Canada – $39,995

Inspired by Music / Inspired by Beauty / La Prima:

  • U.S. – $36,000
  • Canada – $44,995

Because the 500e is built in Italy, it doesn’t qualify for the U.S. federal green car rebate at purchase, but it does qualify for credits if it is leased. State and local credits may also apply depending on jurisdiction. In Canada, the 500e qualifies for the federal green car rebate, and provincial rebate programs in British Columbia and Quebec. Federal and provincial rebates are stackable. 

In the U.S., the 500e comes bundled with a Level 2 home charger or $600 worth of charge credits through Free2Move Charge, a charging network owned by Stellantis.

Impressions

2024 Fiat 500e RED interior screen2024 Fiat 500e RED interior screen
2024 Fiat 500e RED

The Fiat 500 has always been a very small car, and it remains so in 500e guise despite slightly bigger dimensions. The back seat is an acceptable place for kids and small adults, but most average-sized adults will find it quite cramped. For most intenders, the back seat is best used as extra cargo space.

That said, the 500e is a fun car to drive. Unlike a lot of other EVs (especially SUVs), this car has a sporting, fun-to-drive character that one feels immediately. Despite obvious drawbacks stemming from its small size, and limited range, the 500e has personality. Like all EVs, the 500e is fast, but its short wheelbase and lightweight structure produce sharp handling reflexes. One-pedal driving, especially in sherpa mode, delivers a lot of brake regeneration, but the car is at its zippiest and most engaging self in normal mode.

We also love the car’s quirky Italian looks, Easter egg design cues and stylish cabin that is well-designed and easy to use. The cupholder placement up front is a bit, ah, unusual, but it’s nothing one can’t get used to.  

Takeaway

2024 Fiat 500e RED headlight2024 Fiat 500e RED headlight
2024 Fiat 500e RED

Pros:

  • fun to drive
  • quirky Italian looks
  • stylish cabin

Cons:

  • limited range
  • tiny interior confines
  • odd cupholder placement

Fiat officials were quick to tell the assembled media in Miami that the 500e isn’t for everyone. Its small size and limited range won’t make sense for every EV buyer. But, if shoppers are looking for a second car that’s great for local driving, is easy to park and maneuver, and has loads of Italian style, the 500e just might be the car they’re looking for.

The 2024 Fiat 500e RED goes on sale across North America this spring. Inspired by Music and Inspired by Beauty grades (La Prima in Canada) will begin arriving this summer.

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