Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • Choice of two electric motors with identical acceleration
  • New 500 feels peppy to drive
  • Excels in city conditions

The new 500 uses a 118hp electric motor driving the front wheels. That doesn’t sound like a lot of power, but remember that the 500 is a very small car – even if, at over 1,300kg, it’s a bit of a porker.

This means it’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds. This is a little slower than the Honda e’s 8.3 seconds and the MINI Electric’s 7.3 seconds, but out on the road it never feels as though you’re struggling for power.

As with all electric cars, the motor gives all of its power right from takeoff. This means the 500 accelerates very briskly up to 30mph, perfect for nipping around towns and cities and finding gaps in traffic more sluggish cars would be forced to ignore.

The flip side of this is that power tails off as you begin to go faster. The 500 Electric’s top speed is 93 miles per hour, and once you reach 60mph you do begin to sense that there’s a lack of much more to give – so you’ll need to plan overtakes with a little more care than you might in some of this car’s rivals.

Fiat’s given the 500 three driving modes, but has resisted the temptation to make one of them ‘Sport’. Since Sport mode in a non-sporty car is usually a total waste of time, we thoroughly endorse this approach.

Instead, you have ‘Normal’ mode, which the car defaults to on startup. From there, you can switch into ‘Range’ mode, which ramps up the regenerative braking, allowing you to drive the 500 using only one pedal – it’ll actually bring itself to a complete stop without you needing to brake.

If you really want to eke out your last miles, switch into the curiously named ‘Sherpa’ mode, and the 500 will cut performance and top speed (limiting itself to 50mph) as well as cutting off all heating and air-con. With proper planning you should be able to avoid ever having to resort to this mode.

Handling

  • Corners well with little body roll
  • Steering is light and easy
  • Not a sports car – but Abarth might fix that one day

The standard Fiat 500 is a fun thing to drive, but it’s not exactly sporting – you have to opt for one of the heavily modified Abarth models for that. The same holds true here, with the 500 Electric possessing handling characteristics that certainly won’t drive anybody off. However, we’re hoping Abarth will get its hands on this new model, as it feels as if there’s a lot of potential here.

First, the good. The 500 grips keenly, so you can corner quickly and with confidence. Its squat stance with a wheel at each corner makes it a joy to fling around tight streets, while it resists body roll well, too.

However, it rides poorly on pockmarked surfaces and has a tendency to skitter across bumps. The steering, too, is over-assisted for keen drivers.