Daytime running lights hover over the headlights like finely tweaked eyebrows, and indeed, the whole car is stylish, head-turning and utterly new while still retaining that Italian charisma that has made the 500 one of the world’s most sought after cars.
This latest Italian masterpiece is slightly longer and wider than the 2007 model, and strikingly, the Fiat badge on the grille has been replaced with a 500 badge so that you will know immediately this is the electric version.
The Icon hatchback model I am driving has been blessed with 17ins diamond cut alloys and chrome side mouldings. Inside it has sustainable fabric seats made from Seaqual yarn using harvested plastics from the ocean and there is what Fiat call technowood on the dash.
Surprisingly, there are no interior handles. Instead, a chrome button releases the door in the same way as a handle – but it is one of the quirky little features that make this car so adorable.
It also comes with a couple of ‘easter eggs’ – small hidden features – like the outline of the original Fiat 500 on the door and the Turin skyline on the wireless free charging pad. (There are also two other USB points).
With the brief to create a new electric model, designers decided to look to the 1957 original for inspiration. Simultaneously, underlying its Latin credentials – production of the new alternatively fuelled model was moved back to Turin.
The new electric 500 comes as a hatchback and also a cabriolet – the only all-electric cabriolet on the road, say Fiat. There are new colours too – beautiful Celestial Blue and gorgeous Rose Gold.
You can opt for a smaller powertrain for city driving, which will give you a range of 115 miles and take less time to charge, or for regular longer distances, a larger 42kWh battery that offers an astonishing 199 miles range. How practical, how Italian.
The 500e also recharges as you drive using Normal, Range or Sherpa modes, each one sharply increasing the braking and deceleration to give you a more significant charging boost – and it really works.
I watched in amazement as I switched between the modes and saw the miles left to drive substantially increase – although, beware in Sherpa mode. This is almost like a ‘limp’ mode for when you think you have not enough power left to get home. All electric powered like the aircon is turned off and the car limited to a top speed of 50mph.
However, in Normal mode, it is smart and feisty as it powers you around the country – brilliant on corners and fabulous for parking. It comes with bags of safety features, lane centring, intelligent speed assist, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot assist and many more.
The Icon upwards has a 10.25ins touchscreen with sat-nav, but all models can connect to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on a docking station for all smartphone features.
The Fiat 500 has always been an eyecatcher, but it is even better in this new look for the future. It is just so desirable both above and below the bonnet. Bellissima.
Maggie Barry is an Award winning journalist, she regularly travels in Europe and beyond to test drive cars. A former lecturer in journalism and motoring editor of Media Scotland she has written for and contributed to the Daily Record and Sunday Mail among others. She is on the panel judging the Scottish Car of the Year and Women’s World Car of the Year. She lives near Glasgow with her husband and several cars.
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