EV Review: 2018 Fiat 500e

 In Electric Cars

Introduction

Electric cars tend to lean toward the cutesy style. They’re often small cars with and a very distinct EV looks. You know the type: blue accents, oddly-shaped grilles, strange interior materials, and such. It’s refreshing when an electric car doesn’t bring any more attention to itself than necessary, as is the case with the 2018 Fiat 500e.

What we’re talking about is a microcar. It’s a subcompact model that’s gone from a fuel-sipping two-door hatchback to one that doesn’t use any fuel at all. Really, it meets the right clientele as its gas-powered sibling and doesn’t seem to be much different at all. That’s a great thing at times, but in the Fiat 500e’s case, there are a few flaws evident immediately.

This little micro-hatch seems starts its life at a disadvantage compared to the competition. It’s priced higher than several other EVs like the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Bolt, yet it has a much shorter driving range. There has to be something spectacular behind that cute exterior to make customers choose the 2018 Fiat 500e.

Exterior styling

In the segment, the Fiat 500e looks exactly right. It’s a small, two-door hatchback-style vehicle that gives car buyers the feeling of individuality. There’s a retro appearance to it, such as round headlights and the throwback style to the 500 from decades ago. It’s very much the same car as the gas-powered Fiat 500 from the looks of it, save for only half the color choices and a different wheel design.

The 2018 Fiat 500e comes standard with a few things the gas version does not, though. Heated outside mirrors are more aerodynamically shaped, and fog lights and a rear spoiler are found on all 500e trims.

Fit and finish interior

There are some good things happening inside the 2018 Fiat 500e. It’s a comfy car with tons of legroom, even for taller people in the front seats. Heated, power-and-memory leatherette seating surfaces are standard equipment on the 500e. Automatic temperature control, SiriusXM radio, and an Alpine Premium Audio System with six speakers are standard equipment on all Fiat 500e models.

In fact, there are only a few things that can be changed up on the 2018 Fiat 500e. You have two interior color options, Steam or Nero (aka White or Black), an available power sliding moonroof, and the E-Sport package. The E-Sport Package adds orange-accented wheels, orange mirror caps and side stripes, and black headlight housings.

One of the best interior features for the Fiat 500e is its instrument cluster. It’s a 7-inch round full-color display that can be used as your Uconnect Navigation or display trip information, et cetera. It’s a highlight especially since the radio is rather nondescript in appearance and the whole dash and console area feel excessively cheap and plasticky.

The 2018 Fiat 500e is a comfortable ride and a well-equipped car, but it falls way short of expectations in the cabin. That goes doubly so when you take the price into consideration.

Driving Experience

Here’s where the Fiat 500e had an opportunity to outshine the competition. It has Italian DNA that could have been harnessed to make it an incredible little performer. It was an opportunity squandered.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with how the 2018 Fiat 500e operates, but it could be better. The electric motor is just 111hp, although off-the-line torque is always surprisingly strong in electric cars, and the 500e has 147 lb.-ft.

FCA has equipped the 2018 Fiat 500e with fairly standard MacPherson front struts and a rear twist-beam axle with coil springs, as well as an electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. What that means is the Fiat 500e handles about the same as every subcompact car built in the past 15 years. You aren’t slaloming a mountain course or even powering around a highway cloverleaf. It’s a run-of-the-mill driving experience.

The only thing with the 2018 Fiat 500e that stands out is the regenerative braking system. Fiat has developed the 500e to feel as much like a normal vehicle when braking while still having the same regenerative braking efficiency as the typical EV. It would just be really nice if the Fiat 500e could go further than 84 miles before it required a 4-hour Level-2 charge.

Features

MSRP $32,995 USD
Type BEV
Electric Range 84 miles / 135 km
Total Range 84 miles / 135 km
Time to Charge 4.0 hours (Level 2)
Electric Motor 83 kW
Battery Capacity 24 kWh
Top Speed 88 mph / 141 km/h
Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles or 80,000 km

Conclusion

The 2018 Fiat 500e is a city car, through and through. With a comparatively short-distance range and a seemingly long charge time, you aren’t going to be taking the Fiat 500e on road trips. The exterior is good-looking but the interior doesn’t meet expectations.

Add to that, the 2018 Fiat 500e is only available from dealers in Oregon and California. There won’t be too many people choosing the Fiat 500e over some of the more powerful and longer-range competitors out there, but those who choose it are probably fuel- and eco-conscious millennials and small families.

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