2013 Fiat 500e 2dr Hatchback (Electric 1-speed Direct Drive)
Driven On 9/10/2013
This rating has been carried forward from a prior year because the newer model has no substantial differences.
The Fiat 500e is a stylish EV that's fun to drive with good range and short charge times. The 500e actually feels better as an electric vehicle than its gas counterpart, and it's quicker, too. It has the same drawbacks (small backseat and funky ergonomics) as the regular Fiat 500. It's only available in California.
PerformanceThe 500e is an entertaining electric vehicle, with good moves at every turn. It's actually quicker to 60 mph than a regular Fiat 500, and it keeps up with the 500 Turbo. But don't venture there often if you want to maximize range.
Copious electric-motor torque imparts a good drive-away feel from rest. Our 500e scooted to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds, which is above average in the EV world and actually ties the Fiat 500 Turbo.
The brake pedal is firm and reassuring, and routine in-town stops feel, well, routine. Our panic stop from 60 mph used up 129 feet; a little long, but not alarmingly so.
Oddly heavy and thick when driving straight, but wakes up nicely and gives good feedback when bending through corners. Strangely, it feels more responsive than the standard Fiat 500.
The 500e stands apart from other electric vehicles with its great balance and an eagerness to turn. Its 65.1-mph slalom-test speed bests all other EVs except the Tesla Model S.
Smooth and seamless is the order of the day, but we wish the Fiat 500e had an "L" mode to enable early "off-throttle" regenerative braking for more efficiency ... and fun.
ComfortThe Fiat 500e gives you the quietness you expect from an EV, but the suspension delivers a busier and more unsettled ride on uneven surfaces than we'd like.
The front seat adjustments are fairly basic, but the cushion and backrest do provide adequate support.
Unlike the Spark EV, which delivers a polished ride despite its small size, the Fiat 500e pitches and bucks on its short wheelbase more than expected. A standard 500 rides better.
In true EV fashion, the 500e glides down the road like gas-powered cars can't. Acceleration is virtually soundless, and the 500e's tires don't produce much road noise.
InteriorLike a regular Fiat 500, the 500e suffers from two things: form over function and, to a greater degree, a backseat that isn't terribly practical for family use. Think of it as a two-seater and you'll get along with it much better.
We've never liked the 500's primary radio controls, trip computer reset or seat height adjuster. Add a weird pushbutton shifter with no enhanced EV regen mode to our list of gripes.
Easy entry to the front seats through wide doors, but the rear seats are hard to wriggle into. This is not the right car if you will haul adults or even teens in the backseat.
See above. Good head- and legroom up front, but the rear seat isn't something you'd want to depend on unless the driver is short and likes the seat slid forward.
It's easy to see out the front, but the center door post seems to be in the way when doing a head check. Rear visiblity is decent, but nothing to write home about.
There isn't much room for cargo behind the rear seats if someone is sitting there. They need to be folded to get much utility. The 500e works best in the two-seat configuration.
ValueThere isn't much room for cargo behind the rear seats if someone is sitting there. They need to be folded to get much utility. The 500e works best in the two-seat configuration.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Our electric 500 looks smarter than the gas version because of added unique styling elements, but it's impossible to see the EV price premium if you simply examine how it's put together.
The 500e is equipped rather well, with all the features of the highest 500 trim plus a few EV extras. It has good EV components, too, such as the 6.6 kW on-board charger.
The 2013 Fiat 500e costs $32,600, which is mid-pack in the EV class. It does have a bit more sporting flair than the others, though. It qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit.
The 500e delivers a rated range of 87 miles, which is excellent when compared to the average distance a person drives each day. We managed 109.5 miles on our test loop.
A basic 4yr/50,000-mile warranty (including electric powertrain and associated electronics) is reasonable, but not impressive. The battery is covered for 8 years/100,000 miles, though.
The 500e's 6.6 kW on-board charger fills an empty battery in 4 hours on 240V, almost twice as fast as EVs with a 3.3 kW system. Fiat's included PASS program provides 12 days of long-trip rentals per year for 3 years.
Fun To DriveCombine stylish looks with smart acceleration, great balance and an eagerness to turn and you get an entertaining electric vehicle that garners a decent amount of attention. It's everything a regular Fiat 500 is, but with more sophistication.
The Fiat 500e enjoys better weight distribution and balance than a regular 500, and the electric motor torque makes it responsive and fairly quick relative to other 500s.
Folks on the street and in other cars seem to like the Fiat 500, and the 500e is no exception. It seems to project an air of whimsy and fun that's infectious.