The FIAT brand showed off its new Fiat 500 today, in Milan, Italy. Originally scheduled to debut last week in Geneva, the public debut of the next-generation Fiat 500 was pushed back and it didn’t disappoint. Although not available in the North American market, the FIAT has relaunched the iconic 500 nameplate to combat stricter emissions regulations on a global scale.
Starting with a blank sheet of paper, designers and engineers decided to take the third-generation Fiat 500 to the next level, by making the car an electric city car. That’s right, no more gasoline or diesel powertrains for the Italian brand’s small city car. However, the current Fiat 500 lineup will stick around for a few more model years, for those who still want a combustion powertrain.
The team put two key issues are the forefront of their efforts, range and charging times. The solutions the team came up with are downright impressive. A new set of lithium-ion batteries with a capacity of 42 kWh give the 2021 Fiat 500 a range of up to 320 kilometers (or about 200 miles) in the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) cycle. To optimize charging times, the new Fiat 500 is equipped with an 85 kW fast charger system to charge the battery very quickly. For example, it takes only 5 minutes to build up a sufficient energy reserve to travel 50 kilometers (about 31 miles), more than is needed for average daily use. The fast charger can also charge the battery to 80% in just 35 minutes. A Combo 2 socket is located on the rear right-side panel of the car and offers both AC and DC charging.
Home charging solutions are also available. The launch edition of the new 500 includes the Easy Wallbox™, a home charging system that can be connected to a normal home outlet. ENGIE EPS developed this exclusively for FCA, and it will be marketed by Mopar in Europe to coincide with the launch of the model. It is a simple, accessible “plug-and-charge” solution that can be managed easily via Bluetooth, letting you stabilize your energy load by charging your 500 immediately at home with up to 3 kW of charging power, with no need for any intervention by skilled personnel. Moreover, the Easy WallboxTM is ready for a power upgrade to 7.4 kW, providing a full charge at home in just over 6 hours. The model also comes with a Mode 3 cable for charging from the public mains.
The new Fiat 500 has three driving modes to choose from Normal, Range, and Sherpa. Sherpa mode optimizes the available resources to ensure that you will reach your destination. Sherpa driving mode works on several components to reduce fuel consumption to a minimum, precisely to ensure that you can reach either the destination set on the navigation system or the nearest charging station comfortably. Just like a “Himalayan Sherpa”, who is in charge of the whole expedition and guides it to the destination, this driving mode adjusts various parameters: maximum speed, limited to 80 km/h (about 50 mph); accelerator response, in order to reduce energy consumption; and deactivation of the climate control system and heated seats (the driver has the option of activating them at any time).
“Normal” mode is as close as possible to driving a vehicle with a normal combustion engine, while “Range” mode activates the “one-pedal-drive” function. By selecting this driving mode, you can practically drive the new 500 with the accelerator pedal alone. In fact, releasing it causes much greater deceleration than with a normal combustion engine, almost as if you had pushed the brake pedal. In any event, you need to push the brake pedal to bring the car to a complete stop. However, in daily use and with more practice, you can eventually learn to drive it using the accelerator pedal only.
The electric motor has an output of 87 kW, providing a maximum speed of 150 km/h or about 93 mph (self-limited) and acceleration from 0-100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 9.0 seconds and 0-50 km/h (0 to 31 mph) in 3.1 seconds.
During the design phase, the Fiat Style Center worked on clean lines and a consistent language to define the look of the third-generation 500 while taking cues from its 63-year history, while being more sinuous and elegant, shaped around a more proportioned approach to the chassis. This makes it spatially attractive, giving a perception of increased stability and dimensional presence.
Another requirement was to immediately give the new model a dedicated 500 logo, which appears at the center of the front badge for the first time, in the place of the FIAT logo. The current 500 logo at the rear keeps its link with the past, albeit transformed into the dedicated all-electric version: distinguished and embellished by a Light Blue border, with a play of design and color transforming the final zero into a letter “E”.
The front is vertical as in the 1957 version, making it less elusive, almost facing the road, and the dynamic feel of the profile has been accentuated. The dividing line of the first generation separated the bonnet from the circular headlights, while today that separation has been redesigned, dividing the modular elliptical headlight with an eyelash on the bonnet. The slightly more elliptical, still-iconic headlights are technological and modern, resulting in a more appealing look, while the door handles are completely flush, with a compartment for the electric unlocking. A car with a smile, which has not lost the ‘carefree’ connotation expressed by its empathetic front, even in the third generation.
Its form demonstrates the same creative spirit. The substance of the new platform has given the third-generation 500 an incredible presence measuring 2.4 inches wider and 2.4 inches longer, with a wheelbase extended by 0.8 inches.
Inside, the electric 500 is completely new and elegant, with clear references to elements of the first generation. Like an interior designer, the Style Center has furnished the interior by distributing the bulk efficiently to achieve formal simplicity, trim aesthetics, and visual clarity. This is exemplified by the wide and slender dashboard and the modular storage solutions between the two front seats where the gear shift console was originally located, significantly improving perceived comfort. There is more space behind the shoulders and for the legs, while the flat bottom can house the lithium batteries without compromising the luggage compartment capacity, which remains unchanged.
The new Fiat 500 also introduces Level 2 autonomous driving that includes intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (iACC) and Lane Centering for the first time in a city car. Front-facing camera monitoring technology monitors all areas of the car (both longitudinally and laterally). The iACC system brakes or accelerates in response to anything like cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. Lane Centering keeps the vehicle in the center of the lane when the markings are correctly identified.
Intelligent Speed Assist reads the speed limits and recommends applying them, while Urban Blind Spot uses ultrasonic sensors to monitor the blind spots and warn of any obstacles with a triangular warning light on the wing mirror. Then there is Attention Assist, which provides warnings on the display, recommending that you stop and take a break when you are tired. Finally, the 360° sensors provide a drone view to avoid any obstacles when parking or performing complex maneuvers.
The third-generation 500 is also equipped with the new Uconnect 5 infotainment system (that we first seen on the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica, when it was introduced last month). Now using widgets, customers can now configure how functions and applications are displayed, while new features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available wirelessly. A new 10.25-inch high-definition touchscreen with a new horizontal layout that fits perfectly into the vehicle’s dashboard. The new Telematic Box Module and Emergency Call function allow customers a number of innovative connectivity services…
- My Assistant: an assistance system that connects the customer with an assistant to request help in the event of a breakdown and receive support to resolve any issues. The customer will also receive a report by e-mail, in which they can check the car’s current status.
- My Remote: from their smartphone, customers can check the battery charging level, schedule vehicle charging for the most cost-effective time slots; find the exact location of the car; lock and unlock the doors; turn the lights on and off and program the air conditioning system.
- My Car: to check the condition of your car, with immediate verification of various parameters, from tire pressure to service schedule.
- My Navigation: via the mobile app, you can send your destination to the car’s navigation, identify the route, check traffic conditions and weather along the way and speed cameras. You can also view charging points located near you, by graphically locating on the map the points that can be reached based on your current level of battery charge. Maps will always be kept updated, over-the-air.
- My Wi-Fi: a true hotspot that connects up to eight electronic devices to the internet at the same time, just like at home. My Wi-Fi also lets you interact with your car with voice assistance technology from Amazon Alexa, the industry leader.
- My Theft Assistance: customers are immediately notified in the event of their car being stolen. As soon as the theft is confirmed by law enforcement, customer safety assistance will provide support to retrieve the car.
FIAT has officially said that they are evaluating the new Fiat 500’s potential for the North American market. It seems fitting considering that the Fiat 500 was the nameplates best selling nameplate before it was discontinued this year. For those outside of North America, who are looking to order at a new third-generation launch edition, you can simply visit FIAT.com for details.
The New Third-Generation Fiat 500 Image Gallery: