2024 Fiat 500e First Drive Review: An Adorable Espresso Shot of an EV

Cute, Italian, and real good at U-turns, the 500e could be the ideal city car.

byChris Tsui|
Chris Tsui
Chris Tsui.


Remember when Tesla promised a $35,000 EV only to sell it for all of five minutes before pulling the plug so it could presumably turn around and continue work on the $80,000 Cybertruck? Well, Stellantis evidently has a different approach to EV rollouts. Yes, the headline-grabbing, I-don't-actually-care-about-efficiency Dodge Charger Daytona is indeed coming soon but before that drops, we have something completely different. We have the 2024 Fiat 500e.

Starting at $34,095 delivered, it happens to be the first Stellantis EV sold in North America. And while it may be new to us, it isn't a new car per se. The electric Cinquecento has been built and sold in Europe since 2020 so, y'know, don't fret too much about avoiding first model year 2024 examples in the interest of reliability or whatever. Not that Fiat buyers typically concerned themselves with that sort of thing, but I digress.

Chris Tsui

What Fiat buyers do care about is style, whimsy, a compact, city-slicking chuckability, and that unspoken je ne sais quoi (This phrase is Italian, right?) that comes with driving an eye-talian motor vehicle. And on those fronts, the electric 500 mostly delivers.

Where's The Pizza Oven?

Let's start with that style. You know what a Fiat 500 looks like. I know what a Fiat 500 looks like. Anyone born after 1957 knows what a Fiat 500 looks like. Even in electric form, the automotive caricature of Italy retains its flipped-shot-glass proportions and puppy dog demeanor. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard, and those classic bugeye headlights have been given eyelids that make the car look perpetually unimpressed at something. Electronic exterior door handles (read: you press a button behind the handle) exist as slots that do not extrude from the body, cutting down on aerodynamic drag and looking a bit like the door handles of an airplane bathroom.

Inside, the dash, gauge cluster, and two-spoke steering wheel serve as an homage to the O.G. 500 from the '50s. Certifiably not from the '50s, however, is a 10.25-inch touchscreen running Uconnect 5 with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This screen and the software it runs work well; snappy, bright even in direct sunlight, and sharp-looking.

Elsewhere, it's a relatively simple, practical interior. There are actual, physical, hard buttons controlling the HVAC, how 'bout that? And gear selection is done via buttons too—typically a sin on premise alone but the 500e gets a pass on execution because these buttons are big, clear, and won't be confused for anything else.

Obviously, don't expect a ton of room inside this sub-subcompact but as a medium-compact adult male, the front seats of the 500e felt far from claustrophobic, all things considered. There are a fair amount of storage nooks and cubbies that make the most out of the space and the lack of a transmission tunnel makes the space between driver and passenger very airy.

Its status as an economy car shows itself in the manual-adjust seats and interior plastics which are hard pretty much everywhere. But the steering wheel is wrapped in a reasonably nice leather material and there are quite a few Easter eggs sprinkled around to make it feel a bit more special than the cabin of, say, a Toyota Yaris. The wireless charging pad is stamped with what I'm assuming is Turin's skyline, the seats say "Fiat" all over them, and there's a little picture of the original 500 in the bottom of the door pulls.

Chris Tsui

If Fiat really wanted to make the place Feel Like Italy, the glove box would double as a pizza oven, but I can't imagine that'd be great for driving range.

Short Game

Speaking of driving, the Fiat 500e uses an electric motor powering the front wheels making 117 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. The car weighs 2,952 pounds (more than 500 pounds less than the base Nissan Leaf) and gets from zero to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds. The fastest it'll go is 94 mph.

Highway speeds aren't what the 500e was made to excel at, though. Where it shines is in tight, urban areas where zero to 30 mph is a much more important metric (3.1 seconds, for the record) and its tight turning radius of 31.5 feet is at its most useful. Its sheer lack of size and positively zippy personality meant I was able to dart and slip and sneak into spaces I'd be hesitant to inhabit in a bigger vehicle.

Chris Tsui

I distinctly remember being in the right-most lane at an intersection where I was supposed to turn left, then deciding to do that thing where you make a right and immediately pull a U-turn. In a bigger car, that may or may not have involved a cumbersome three-pointer, but in the little Fiat, I simply thought about it, made the maneuver, and was moving in the right direction again, smugly blowing past the sea of Tahoe and X5 drivers who could never have done such a thing with such pickpocket-like immediacy. Great outward visibility helps, too, on account of there simply not being a lot of car to see past. You turn your head to do a shoulder check out of the big windows and the outside world is right there, making the 500e feel like a glorified golf cart and the streets one big putting green.

Get out onto the proverbial fairway and the ride isn't what I'd call serene but perhaps acceptably busy given the tiny wheelbase. One of the only other real complaints I had with the driving experience was a lack of lumbar support in the seat as I could feel my lower back start to protest even just after an hour-long drive.

Chris Tsui

Bar the increased agility, steering and braking mostly feel like that of a regular compact car. It goes where you point it with reasonable eagerness and it stops when you want it without feeling jerky or wonky on account of regen braking. In addition to the gas car-mimicking Normal mode, a dedicated Range driving mode is the Fiat metonym for one-pedal driving, which increases efficiency and works as expected. A slightly funnily named Sherpa mode restricts the car to 76 hp and 50 mph as a sort of last-ditch effort drive mode that tells the car to do everything it can to get you to a charging station.

Range, Charging, and Efficiency

The 500e's 42-kWh battery is good for 149 miles of range or, per Fiat, 162 miles if you keep it in the city. With a max charge rate of 85 kW, the quoted zero to 80% charge time is 35 minutes or 31 miles recuperated every five minutes. Level 2 home charging will allegedly get the battery from flat to 100% in six hours. Every new 500e comes with the buyer's choice of either a Level 2 wall unit or $600 of public charging credits.

For reference, 149 miles of range matches that of the base Nissan Leaf exactly while handily beating the Mini Cooper SE's 114 miles. The quoted fast charge time, meanwhile, is more or less in line with that of those two competitors.

Caffe Artisanal

With its $34,095 starting price for this base Red edition (it jumps to $37,595 if you want one with Level 2 assisted driving, JBL audio, or Rose Gold paint), the 500e is an objectively affordable option in the context of new EVs, but I wouldn't call it an amazing value. The $31,895 Mini Cooper SE may have significantly less range but it's roomier, quicker, and (no disrespect to Auburn Hills when I say this) inherits tech from BMW rather than, y'know, Dodge. The strongest rebuttal against the 500e as a value proposition, however, would probably be the Volvo EX30. For just $36,245 to start, that's a full-on four-door, five-seat crossover with 268 hp, 275 miles of range, and Volvo badges on both ends.

Chris Tsui

The 2024 Fiat 500e is an adorable espresso shot of a car—almost as small and just as delightful. Believe it or not, the e in 500e actually stands for espresso. [Ed. note: No, it doesn't.] However, it is one of those slightly bougie, slightly overpriced artisanal cups you get from a cafe that Google Maps describes as "warm & cozy" and uses Aesop handsoap in its password-protected washroom.

Buying a 500e, then, is what we call in this business a "creative decision." Rolling up in one is as much a personality statement as rolling up in a GMC Hummer EV would be. If you love the way it looks and live in an environment where its smallness is an advantage rather than a liability, then this might just be the stylish runabout city car you've been looking for.

2024 Fiat 500e Specs
Base Price$34,095
Powertrainsingle-motor front-wheel drive | 42-kWh battery
Torque162 lb-ft
Seating Capacity4
Cargo Volume7.5 cubic feet
Curb Weight2,952 pounds
0-60 mph8.5 seconds
Top Speed94 mph
EPA Range149 miles
Quick TakeTiny, punchy, and fashionably electric.
Chris Tsui

Got a tip or question for the author about the 500e? You can reach him here: chris.tsui@thedrive.com

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