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Published on May 18th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


Fiat 500e Test Drive Review — Torquey, Sporty, Cool, Tiny… (CleanTechnica Review, Video, & Pictures)

May 18th, 2016 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

I finally got behind the wheel of a Fiat 500e while I was in Los Angeles for the Tesla Model 3 unveiling. I had heard wonderful things about the car, but naturally wanted to test it out for myself and compare it to the Nissan LEAF, BMW i3, Volkswagen e-Up!, Renault Zoe & Twizy, etc. Here’s my take.

Fiat 500e grey 1 enhanced

116 MPGe 4 (tight) seats
87 miles (140 km) 100% electric
$32,300 ($24,800), but with some superb lease offers 0–60 mph in 8.7 seconds

First of all, yes, the 500e is spunky — or “torquey” as Kyle likes to say and I think should be a mainstream term as well. It’s got pretty fun acceleration and can peel out pretty nicely if you want. Though, it doesn’t compare to the BMW i3 in that regard — neither in quickness or handling. Like the LEAF, if you step on it quickly (especially while turning), handling is a bit wobbly. Still, the Fiat 500e beats the pants off of a gasmobile anywhere near it in price.

Fiat 500eFiat 500e grey 2 enhanced Fiat 500e grey 3 enhanced

Unfortunately, Fiat didn’t do much to take advantage of the potential for one-pedal driving via regenerative braking. It’s similar to the LEAF in that regard again, and maybe even worse. The BMW i3 still offers the pinnacle of regenerative braking, imho, and I know that comes from its experience learning from customers through its ActiveE program — great work by BMW in that regard, but disappointing that other automakers didn’t pick up on this big benefit to EV driving and do more to maximize battery regeneration and ease of driving via stronger regen.

Fiat 500e white 2 enhanced Fiat 500e white enhanced

Style is always a subjective matter, but for my part, I’ll say that I love the cute look of the Fiat 500e. And I think the mix of cute and sporty make the 500e a great buy for the more masculine or feminine types.

The 500e’s weakest point is pretty obviously its interior space. The back seat is tight … really tight. The front seats are okay, but certainly more on the cozy side of things. And the trunk is tiny. This pretty much eliminates the 500e as a family car in my book. I think it’s an excellent car for a childless bachelor or bachelorette. I think it could even the best option for a young college kid — quite affordable (lease prices go down to $69/month! or $169/month with $0 down), a lot of fun, stylish (if you are on my side with that), and cheap to operate; just not a lot of space, which most college kids don’t need. We were told at the dealership we visited that individual weekends with good deals on offer saw sales of 40+ cars! Understandable, imho.

Fiat 500e interior enhanced Fiat 500e trunk 2 enhanced Fiat 500e trunk 3 enhanced Fiat 500e trunk enhanced


The navigation system on the 500e is a bit old school. As you’ll see if you watch the review video, passenger and fellow visitor Lesly and I were laughing that it reminded us of the original Super Mario Bros. or something from that era. Ain’t no Tesla. Still, it gets the job done, and I guess that’s the general story with the Fiat 500e (+ a some fun spunk) … unless the job entails regularly transporting more than 1 other person and/or a bit of cargo.

Of course, another big downside of the 500e is no DC fast charging. It’s not even an option, let alone Supercharging!

Overall, it seems that the pros and cons of the Fiat in my eyes are as follows:


  • Fun and quick, especially for the price.
  • Cute & stylish.
  • Cozy … if you like cozy and prefer the term over cramped.
  • Super affordable, especially when good deals are on offer.


  • Not spacious … at all.
  • Handling isn’t superb, but what can you expect at that price point?
  • Tech isn’t cutting edge.
  • It’s a Fiat … which would mean supporting EV-bashing Sergio Marchionne.

If I were in the market for this price range, I’d go for a LEAF or e-Golf over the 500e, but if I were younger and childless, I’d probably be debating the 500e vs the LEAF or e-Golf (presuming I lived in a place that offered the 500e and the e-Golf — which would basically mean the US West Coast).

Your thoughts on the intro EV from this Italian auto giant?

Photos by Kyle Field, edited by Zach Shahan, for EVObsession.com | CleanTechnica.com | CleanTechnica.pics


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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.

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