Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • Classy yet funky interior
  • High-quality where it needs to be
  • Driving position hugely improved compared to old 500

The new 500 features a thoroughly modern interior, in contrast to the old car’s retro vibe. There’s still some familiar features here, but it’s got a sleek new look – which actually improves functionality. However, Fiat’s keen to point out it hasn’t forgotten its roots, so you’ll find little ‘easter eggs’ dotted about the cabin, like an image of the Turin skyline etched into the smartphone charging tray.

The dashboard’s dominated by the infotainment screen, which only gets larger the further up the model hierarchy you go. Basic cars only get a phone mount, so your infotainment screen is dictated by how large a smartphone you carry.

However, mid-spec cars get a 7.0-inch display, while the top-spec trims enjoy a high-quality, widescreen 10.25-inch unit.

This screen controls all of the car’s media, with the only physical control being a volume scroller in the centre console where you’d normally expect to find a gear lever. As for gear selection, it’s found on a row of four buttons positioned centrally in the car within easy reach of the driver.

The circular instrument panel remains, but it’s now fully digital – and as electric cars don’t need to display a rev counter the interface is much simpler and easier to read, too.

The overall effect is high-tech but not overwhelming in the same way as the Honda e and its five-screen dashboard can be.

Comfort

  • Driving position much improved
  • Not particularly soft on bumps...
  • ... but not overly firm either

Another improvement comes in the form of the driving position. The petrol-powered 500 really was a love-it-or-hate-it affair, as you sat very high in the car with the steering wheel positioned quite close. Now, the seat’s set more conventionally, which we found very comfortable compared with the outgoing model.

However, the 500 does suffer from poor visibility, with bulky windscreen pillars reducing your view at junctions and chunky C-pillars increasing your blindspots. Tall drivers might also find the rear-view mirror is set uncomfortably low to accommodate the bulk of active safety sensors behind it.

As for ride comfort, it’s limited by the 500’s short wheelbase. That means it’s a tendency to bunny hop across speed jumps and skitter along pockmarked surfaces.

The suspension is quite stiff, which is necessary to deal with the extra weight a large battery pack brings. That does, however, mean you don’t get very much sickness-inducing body roll.