With the launch of the Fiat 500e now nearly upon us (July, but only in California), the question of what it's like overall is becoming more prevalent.
On the range front, the 500e delivers. Though rated at 87 miles by the EPA, most initial tests show that this figure is rather easy to exceed. Remember, the 500e features a 24-kWh (LEAF size) battery pack, while weighing some 600 pounds less than a LEAF.
Acceleration is another area where the 500e shines. The electric 500 boasts a powerful 111-hp motor, which again outshines the far-heavier Nissan LEAF. So, expect the 500e to be peppy, at least at lower speeds, and to easily out-handle most of the competition.
In Edmunds' latest review of the 500e, some gripes were noted, but the positives outweighed the negatives. Here's a look at Edmunds' pros/cons for the 500e:
Pros: The all-electric version of Fiat's 500 hatchback is well suited to city dwellers and presents a charismatic, high-style alternative to many of today's electric cars.
Cons: Battery pack and associated hardware consume valuable rear legroom and cargo space; cramped front headroom with sunroof; sales limited to California.
In terms of driving characteristics/dynamics, the 500e is a willing and capable machine. As Edmunds states:
"Thanks to the instantaneous torque of the 111-hp electric motor, the 500e feels quick from a stop and pulls briskly to highway speeds. Once you're on the highway, though, the rate of acceleration drops off considerably as you approach the car's top speed of 85 mph. The various aerodynamic enhancements not only reduce drag, but they also contribute to a quiet cabin. Even the regenerative brakes feel very natural, which is a nice surprise because EVs often have odd braking characteristics."
"With most of its mechanical weight set low in the chassis, the 500e has a respectable 53/47 front-to-rear weight distribution, and it goes around turns with much the same eagerness as the gas-powered 500."
There is, however, one rather major flaw Edmunds found with the 500e and it's tied to steering:
"The only major dynamic shortcoming is the overly light steering, which offers little feedback. It won't be a big deal to most consumers, but more demanding drivers might find the 2013 Fiat 500e a bit less fun than the standard car."
It's not only Edmunds who is impressed by the Fiat 500e. Nearly all of the major automotive/consumer magazines who have spent considerable time behind the wheel of the electric Fiat walked away impressed with the 500e's overall package. Some even noted that the electric 500 is the best 500 ever tested. That's proof that electric can and, often does, make for a better overall vehicle.