4.2 out of 5 4.2
Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2

The only sound is the wind in your hair

Fiat 500 Electric Convertible (20 on) - rated 4.2 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £29,145 - £32,995
Lease from new From £401 p/m View lease deals
Used price £21,320 - £26,385
Used monthly cost From £532 per month
Fuel Economy 4.2 miles/kWh
New

PROS

  • Quiet roof up or down
  • Strong performance
  • Good range for money
  • Looks brilliant inside and out

CONS

  • Blindspots from chunky pillars
  • Long range, mid-trim and up
  • Lack of buttons won't suit all
  • No characterful petrol engines

Fiat 500 Electric Convertible rivals

Written by Adam Binnie on

Of all the vehicles to adopt electric power, small city cars that spend most of their lives doing short journeys at less than 50mph are surely the most logical. The Fiat 500 electric comes in both hatchback and this convertible version, for those interested in this Italian car for its styling and wind-in-the-hair appeal as well as its compact proportions.

And by way of cornering a new niche, Fiat has created the only four seater electric convertible currently on sale. The MINI Electric and Honda e are hardtop only, and the Smart EQ Fortwo Cabrio is a two seater.

What’s it like to drive?

The previous Fiat 500 was sold with a range of characterful engines that came to define its driving experience, particularly the punchy and evocative two-cylinder TwinAir, which sounded brilliant piped straight through the open roof of the convertible variant.

The trouble was, if you drove that engine the way it wanted to be driven (i.e. by bouncing it off the rev limiter) it was jolly brisk, but its bold claims of better-than-diesel economy went right out of the window.

So in many ways this electric version should offer the best of all worlds – zero tailpipe emissions and petrol consumption along with decisive acceleration off the mark to enable timely urban manoeuvres.

That’s because this top model has 118hp and 220Nm of torque at its disposal, and a 0-62mph time of 9 seconds, governed by three driving modes with differing power delivery and regenerative braking strength called Normal, Range and Sherpa.

The first two help you tweak your priorities between punchy acceleration and efficiency, while the latter restricts the car to 50mph with the air con off for maximum range.

Handling-wise the 500 retains the old car’s light steering and resistance to body roll, which makes it fast and agile to dive in and out of gaps in city traffic.

But it doesn’t sound as good?

No but then again we’d pick luxurious silence over a dull or strangled soundtrack, and that’s exactly what this stylish small car delivers.

Its convertible roof is simple and effective, just like the old car, with a fabric panel that can be retracted like a huge sunroof, before neatly piling up on the top of the bootlid. From closed to open takes 25 seconds at speeds up to 62mph.

Whether you have the roof up or down, the electric 500 is quiet and relatively unblustered by wind, and the effect of a silent drivetrain with just a light rustle of moving air around the top of the cabin makes for a luxurious urban waft.

Despite all of the motorised gubbins and rails above your head, with the roof shut you still have plenty of vertical space, and there’s very little to give the car’s lack of bodywork away from the inside in the form of squeaking windows or seats.

Plus the roof can be closed from the outside of the car by holding down the ‘e-latch’ button that replaces the traditional door handle.

Is it practical?

Like the Fiat 500 hatchback the convertible sits on a new platform and that means the car is 56mm wider and 61mm longer than the old one overall, with 22mm of extra length between the axles for more passenger space.

There’s a 23.7 or 42kWh Samsung battery under the floor depending on which version you choose, and the larger takes 15 hours 15 minutes to charge on a three-pin plug, 4 hours 15 on 11kW, and 35 minutes from 0-80% on an 85kW fast charger.

Full up Fiat promises 115 miles of range from the smaller city battery, although this isn’t currently available on the convertible, while the larger battery should be capable of 199 miles.

What’s it like inside?

The styling is simple and restrained but there are little hidden delights to be found around the cabin, including a sketch of the 1957 Fiat 500 inside the interior door handle with the words ‘Made in Turino’ to celebrate the fact this car is produced at the same Italian factory as the original model, and a Turin skyline adorning the wireless charging pad.

Our car featured Seaquel upholstery seats, which are made from 20% recycled polyester, some of which has been pulled out of the sea in the form of ocean plastics, and the wheel is covered in two-tone eco-leather.

There aren’t many buttons, as is the norm these days, with most of the controls assigned to the 10.2-inch touchscreen (cheaper models get a 7.0-inch unit, or simply a phone cradle) which has lovely clear graphics and a colourful palette. If that’s not to your tastes though the Fiat 500 features Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The dashboard can be specified with a number of different finishes, either plain black or white, body colour or wood. The materials in the cabin look quite hard wearing but the design is attractive enough to avoid it feeling cheap.

It’s also a surprising comfortable car, given its sharp handling and those big wheels. It’s quiet on the move with the roof up or down, and the seats feel supportive enough for longer jaunts.

What about safety?

Fiat says this is the first city car with level two autonomy – essentially adaptive cruise control and active lane keep - which combined can help take the sting out of a long urban traffic jam.

You can also have a rear-view parking camera and 360 degree sensors, and these combined with big door mirrors work together to help overcome some of the 500’s larger blindspots – caused by chunky A and B pillars and a small rear window.

Other safety kit includes a blind spot monitor (this works between between 9-87mph), emergency brake assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection, attention assist and an intelligent speed assist with traffic sign recognition.

So, it's great to drive, comes in a number of variations and has a low starting price. What's not to like?

Read on to see if we think it's worth waiting for...

Fiat 500 Electric Convertible rivals

Other Fiat 500 Electric models: