The Fiat 500e La Prima fully electric car is the range topping version of Fiat’s latest incarnation of the cheeky 500 model. On one hand, you've got the cute, retro styling that harks back to the original 500 of the 1950s. On the other you've got a cutting-edge electric powertrain that offers zippy performance and zero emissions combined with state-of-the-art specification. But does it all come together to make a good car? Well, let's find out.
First off, the looks. There's no denying that the 500e La Prima is a stylish little machine. The round headlights and curvy bodywork give it a distinct and charming look that's sure to turn heads. Without our regulation number plates it has a ‘concept car style’ as most ultra-modern electric vehicles do with their body-coloured front grilles and contemporary styling. The good news is that build quality, plastics, fit and finish are a step up from the previous model, which is vital given these now live in a higher price bracket and expectations.
Now, what about the driving experience? The electric powertrain provides instant torque and brisk acceleration, making the 500e La Prima fun around town. With an electric motor powering, there’s no gearbox required so the car drives very smoothly and with the floor housing the main battery means the low mass augments ride and handling. The whole experience is that of silent, smooth, environmentally friendly comfort.
In terms of range, this is commensurate with the 42Kw battery, the official figure suggests 200 miles on full charge in ‘Normal’ mode, the reality is around 165 miles which is greater than most competitor cars. Charging is simple and the time depends on whether you’re using a 2Kw, 7Kw or 85Kw charging facility of which all are accommodated. In old money that’s a range of 15 hours using a three-pin electric plug or ‘Mode 2 cable’, 5 hours using a home charging point* (Mode 3 cable), or 45 minutes on the super-fast chargers found at motorway services. The 500e has three driving modes, Normal, Range and Sherpa, each option extends the distance and are intended to dampen an owner’s ‘range anxiety’ with Sherpa being a get you home style mode.
A first glance inside and a very modern looking clean interior awaits. Features-wise this is a very highly specified car as standard with everything you would expect of a small prestige appointed hatchback, Fiat’s own ‘Eco-Leather’ is employed throughout and the two electronic displays, are jam packed with features. The 10.5” media display is crystal clear much like a 4K television picture and when showing the reversing image, it’s particularly vivid. As with all modern cars, CarPlay for Apple IOS and Android Auto is standard, it’s wireless as is phone charging when you have a suitable smart phone. The current model has a wonderful crisp audiophile quality 300w JBL HiFi that has been engineered by the Bocelli family, of opera singer Andrea Bocelli fame which adds several listening modes and bass sub-woofer. Voice commands, TomTom Satellite Navigation and DAB Tuner are all included. Safety features include a multitude of airbags, SOS system, 360-degree sensors to aid parking and add a handy blind spot elimination feature. The car has standard Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Control, add these two to nifty electronics and you have the Level 2 Autonomous Driving (L2) feature which is uncanny to use and labour saving in heavy traffic. Once a day the car broadcasts a short piece of classical music to remind you this is no ordinary car.
All in all, the Fiat 500e La Prima electric car is a cute, fun automatic hatchback to drive around town and has zero emissions. It's a great city car but just as at home in the provinces.
*Home charging points are usually an additional £1000-£1500 cost to install