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The Mazda RX-8’s Weird Extra Door Lives on in the New Fiat 500 3+1 EV

The 500 is returning to its roots in a way.

The Fiat 500’s new generation went all electric for 2021, with the range-topping 500 Icon trim offering a range of up to 198 miles (320 km) in the WLTP cycle, which can increase to 285 miles (460 km) when driven in the urban cycle alone. Yet Fiat didn’t stop there. Now, next to the hatchback and cabriolet body styles, the 500 is available with a 3+1 layout featuring an extra rear-hinged door on the passenger side for easy access. Mazda used this solution on its RX-8 sports car and, like the upcoming MX-30 electric crossover, Fiat’s newest offering is making full use of the space-saving method.

Granted, the original Fiat 500, the Nuova introduced in 1957 also came with a pair of rear-hinged doors. That continued on until 1965 with the 500 D, after which the 500 L series replaced its suicide doors with standard front-hinged ones. Fiat says the new 500 3+1 was created with the extra door on the passenger side for the moms and dads of the city, resulting in a new body with unchanged dimensions and not a single hair added to the that all-important compact footprint.

Fiat adds that thanks to the lack of a central panel in the small door itself, this third opening allows you to jump in more comfortably, or load and unload large items more easily. It’s also easier to put your child in the back seat or booster seat in a quicker and more straightforward fashion. Fiat is also quick to point out that once you’ve closed the small door, there’s no difference from any other 500. You get the same style and size, with a weight penalty of only 66 pounds that has no effect on the car’s handling or consumption.

As always, in the name of safety, the small third door can only be opened with the front door already open.

The 2021 Fiat 500’s career begins with the launch editions including the 500 3+1 “la Prima.” Just like with the cabrio and hatchback, three colors are available at launch: Rose Gold, Glacier Blue and Onyx Black. These cars also feature full LED headlights, two-tone 17-inch diamond-cut wheel rims and chrome-plated inserts on the windows and side panels. The seats, dashboard and two-tone steering wheel are wrapped in eco-leather, with Fiat’s monogram on the seats and a “la Prima” tag on the console. Standard comfort features include six-way adjustable front seats, mats, electrochrome internal rearview mirror and 360-degree “drone view” parking sensors. Fiat also threw in lots of gadgets, starting with automatic air conditioning, a wearable pebble key, 85-kilowatt fast charging and an 11 kW Mode 3 cable for charging at home or in public. Also standard is its most developed Advanced Driver Assitance System (ADAS) yet.

The “la Prima” 500s are equipped with Intelligent adaptive cruise control (iACC) and lane centering, traffic sign recognition, autonomous emergency brake with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, intelligent speed assistant, lane control, a high-resolution rear camera with dynamic grid, 360-degree parking and urban blind spot sensors, automatic twilight and dazzle sensors, emergency call and, of course, an electronic parking brake.

In Europe, the new 500 lineup includes the Action, Passion and Icon trims. The entry-level Action cars pack a 70-kW (93 horsepower) e-motor, offering a zero to 62 mph run in 9.5 seconds, and a top speed limited to 83 mph (135 km/h). Its 23.8 kWh lithium-ion battery provides a range of more than 111 miles (180 km) on the WLTP cycle, or over 149 miles (240 km) when only driving in the city. Fiat also claims that with the 50-kW fast charging system, this 500 can be charged up to satisfy daily mileage requirements (estimated at around 31 miles) is less than 10 minutes.

One level up, the 500 Passion gives drivers 198 miles (320 km) in the WLTP cycle, which can increase to 285 miles (460 km) when driven in the urban cycle alone. It also features 85 kW fast charging, so you can recharge from a flat battery to 80 percent range in 35 minutes, or to 31 miles in around 5 minutes. Cruise Control is also added as standard, along with a wireless charging pad in the central compartment beside the driver.

The range-topping 500 Icon comes with a 10.25-inch “cinerama” touchscreen display, including the GPS and the Uconnect 5 system. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels, the bigger battery, faster charging and pretty much every extra feature now available with the 500 as standard. 500 Icon buyers even get a black button-free pebble, a smart wearable key made of a special biobased polycarbonate. As mentioned above, a wood effect upholstery is also available on the dashboard and steering wheel, made with a vegan material rather than leather.

Want the new electric 500 in America as a hatch, a cabriolet or the family 3+1? Currently, FCA can’t confirm as it’s evaluating the EV’s potential for the North American market. We vote yes!


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