Review: 2024 Fiat 500e urban EV has its charm

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The 2024 Fiat 500e is a small electric three-door hatchback that looks remarkably similar to the previous Fiat 500, sold in the U.S. from the 2012 through 2019 model years. This one’s offered only as a battery-electric vehicle (hence the “e”), at least for the moment. But Fiat plans to market it as a fashion accessory as much as a small practical, short-range EV. 

We drove the 500e through Miami traffic for three hours last week, giving us a chance to sample one of its strong points: quick cut-and-thrust urban driving. While it has nowhere near the rocket-ship acceleration offered by some EVs, it’s peppy enough—and small enough to sneak into spaces even compact SUVs can’t manage.

Sadly, we weren’t able to test whether the new 500e retains the entertaining and delightful handling of its predecessor, the 2013-2019 500e, which was sold only in California and Oregon. Miami is entirely flat and remarkably congested. We got exactly one big sweeping turn on a ramp over a freeway; it did fine. But until we get it into some proper hills and twisties, we can’t fully review its driving behavior.

Overall, the 500e is a fun little EV at a reasonable price: The ‘Red’ base model starts at $34,095. Its EPA-rated range of 149 miles may put off some shoppers who should consider it more seriously. Given its small size and its range, Fiat execs are realistic when they say the new 500e “didn’t come to be a sales leader”—meaning it may be rare in some regions of the country. Instead, the car will “test and learn what Fiat wants to be in the U.S.”

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

Instantly, obviously a Fiat 500

The new 2024 Fiat 500e is instantly, identifiably a Fiat 500. Slightly larger than the previous generation—2.4 inches longer, 2.2 inches wider—it shares the same upright-coupe profile and short, stubby nose. The front end has the same “moustache” shape, though the round headlights are actually a semi-circle in the front panel with a lit arc cut into the hood to finish the shape. Larger wheels with fairly low-profile tires, now 17 inches vs the previous model’s 15 inches, keep the little Fiat proportional but add more of an adult feel. 

Inside, the interior is largely shades of black plastic, with a repeating Fiat logo in the gray seat inserts. Most of the plastics are hard, not soft-touch, though textured to make them a bit more stylish. Red plastic on the dash of our red test car recalled the metal dashboard of the original 500, updated for safety regulations that didn’t exist 60 years ago. 

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

A 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster is standard, as is a 10.3-inch central touchscreen display with a UConnect 5 radio. The drive mode and radio volume controls are on the center console.

The 2024 Fiat 500e will never replace a family SUV, but it’s not meant to. It makes a perfectly good second car, commuter car, or perhaps primary vehicle for a single driver or couple living in tight urban quarters. 

500e range and acceleration: Fit for the city

The battery capacity is 42 kilowatt-hours (37 kwh usable), using Samsung cells made in Poland. It powers an 87-kilowatt (117-horsepower) motor driving the front wheels, with quoted torque of 162 lb-ft. The new 500e has no front trunk; the space under the hood is occupied by the 12-volt battery, charging gear, the power electronics, and of course the motor. 

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

It’s fairly obvious Fiat could drop a transverse engine and transmission into the space if it chooses to. Rumors suggest it will. But for now, the 2024 500 is electric-only.

There’s no “Start” or “power” button; the car is ready to move once the driver its down and has buckled the seat belt. Park, Reverse, Neutral, or Drive are selected using flat black buttons on the lower edge of the central dash (below a convenient phone charging pocket). One “surprise and delight” feature of which Fiat is very proud: below 20 mph, the car broadcasts the mandatory pedestrian alert sound. But the first time it exceeds 20 mph, it plays a custom musical theme Fiat calls “The Song of 500”. It was hard to hear even with the windows open (driving next to a solid concrete wall helps reflect it back), but it’s definitely there.

Fiat quotes a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 8.5 seconds, but the 0-to-30-mph time that may be more useful in urban jousting is just 3.1 seconds. In general, it’s entirely suitable for urban use—though we can’t help but wonder about an Abarth version that might be a lot punchier and more fun. There’s nothing to say on that front today, Fiat execs said firmly. Top speed is 94 mph.

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

It has three driving modes: Normal, Range, and Sherpa. Normal makes the EV behave like a combustion-engined car, with low regenerative braking. 

Then there’s Range, which boosts regen and allows one-pedal driving down to a stop—if you have a lot of space. We found the 500e’s regenerative braking quite gentle. It took some practice to learn when to lift off to get the car to slow itself down to a stop; the first few times, it decelerated in such a leisurely way, we stomped on the brake to avoid the car ahead. It’s entirely learnable, but more powerful EVs have more powerful regen—which isn’t the case here.

Finally, the Sherpa mode equates to an Eco mode, reducing power from 87 kw (117 hp) to 67 kw (90 hp), switching off all heating and cooling (you can switch it back on), and capping maximum speed at slightly more than 50 mph. Sherpa mode isn’t as bad as you might imagine, as long as you drive it aggressively—and don’t need to go more than 50 mph.

While the performance is adequate, the car excels in tight spaces. With a turning circle of just 31.5 feet, it’s easy to sneak into small parking spaces. And with a curb weight of only 2,950 pounds (50 pounds lighter than the last, smaller 500e), it doesn’t feel massive behind the wheel.

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

500e seats two adults, two tiny people, and one drink

Getting into the 500e is a matter of squeezing the electric release underneath the door “handle” slot. Novices have to learn that to exit the car, they have to press the round button on top of the door arm-rest to release the electric latch. Once inside, drivers will find they sit high enough over the battery pack that they feel less vulnerable than they would in a lower-slung car of the same size. Stellantis’ head of interior design, it turns out, is 6’8”—and he fits into the 500, meaning there’s plenty of headroom. 

The rear seat has a cupholder in the middle of the lower cushion, underscoring the car’s (nominal) four-seater designation. While its rear seat is larger than the last generation’s, that’s relative: You still won’t fit four American-size adults inside for anything short of punishment.

The upright seating and good outward visibility over the short, beveled nose give the car more presence from inside than it may have on the street. Only when looking at the small sun visors or the tiny little “modesty panel” to cover a 5-inch slot showing the contents of the load bay is the 500e’s small size reinforced. The rear seatbacks don’t fold flat, though; they just tilt forward.

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

One major flaw in the new 500e interior: There’s only a single cup holder, which folds down into the tunnel from the base of the console. If you’re carrying a passenger who also has a cup of coffee, one of you is out of luck. The Fiat team assured us they’re well aware of this and are working on a fast fix. Still, it seems a foolish oversight, since the previous 500e had two of them—and that Fiat has had four years since the European version was released to address this.

Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has yet rated the 2024 Fiat 500e for crash safety, and given its likely low volume, those ratings may not emerge for some time if ever. The new Fiat has seven airbags, and a raft of automated driver-assistance systems including automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot and pedestrian alerts. 

The 500e’s adaptive cruise control will work down to 0 mph once you learn it; the car reads and displays speed-limit signs; and it will also read and display other traffic signs when cruise control is engaged. Fiat promises “Level 2 ADAS” on the “Inspired” trim levels—meaning some level of active lane control together with that, providing the driver remains attentive—but we weren’t able to test those models, so we can’t weigh in on how it works.

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

Special edition “drops”—like sneakers

The base Fiat 500e model for 2024 is the ‘Red’ trim. Available in red, white, and black as actual exterior colors, the ‘Red’ label refers to a charity tie-in that supports Product Red, which raises money to fund research into HIV and AIDS.. Aside from exterior color, the 500e ‘Red’ model only offers a single option: Goodyear summer tires or Pirelli all-season tires. 

Fiat has leaned into the idea of the electric 500 as a fashion accessory and style icon. According to Fiat’s North American brand head, Aamir Ahmed, the company will announce a “drop” of a limited edition version two or three times each year, available only for a short period—echoing the model used successfully for high-fashion sneakers and other goods. Video ads featuring Spike Lee, Giancarlo Esposito, and other icons reinforce the style approach.

The first two special editions are “Inspired by Beauty” (in Rose Gold) and “Inspired by Music” (the Tuxedo Black one, which adds a seven-speaker JBL audio system with audio characteristics of four ‘virtual venues’ built in). They can be ordered today, with deliveries in the third quarter. 

The ‘Red’ edition of the 2024 Fiat 500e carries a base price of $32,500 plus a mandatory $1,595 delivery fee, for a bottom-line sticker price of $34,095. “Inspired” versions add $3,500 to that. Its closest competitor is the Mini Cooper SE, also a three-door hatchback, with a range of just 114 miles. With the Chevrolet Bolt EV range now defunct, the Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona Electric are slightly pricier, but both offer four doors and ranges of more than 200 miles.

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

Small car, big charging

Despite a smallish battery, the 500e can fast-charge at up to 85 kilowatts, so charging from 0 to 80 percent can take as little as 35 minutes under ideal circumstances. The more likely home charging via an 11-kw Level 2 station takes six hours for a charge from 0 to 100 percent. On a standard 120-volt wall socket, the 500e will charge from 5 to 100 percent in 37 hours. The charge port is on the right-rear corner, and the charging cord is housed under the cargo-bay floor.

Fiat will offer buyers the choice of either a Level 2 charging station (the buyer pays to install it) or $600 of free charging via networks that are part of the Stellantis Free2Move system (although participating networks for the U.S. haven’t yet been announced). 

No heat pump is available, though the cabin is small enough that resistance heating may not be as power-hungry as in larger vehicles. Heated seats are offered, but not a heated steering wheel.

2024 Fiat 500e

2024 Fiat 500e

All 2024 Fiat 500e cars are built at the company’s Mirafiori factory outside Turin—as shown in a molding inside each door’s interior arm-rest, which says “Made in Torino” with a silhouette of an original 500. That means they do not qualify for a U.S. federal purchase incentive, though leasing the car restores the full credit. The 500e still qualifies for many state and local incentives.


Fiat provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable Green Car Reports to bring you this first-person drive report.

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