2020 Fiat 500 reborn as electric city car

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As promised a year ago, Fiat’s best-selling 500 city car has gone electric, and once launched later in 2020 will do battle with the latest Opel Corsa-e, Mini Cooper SE and Honda e small EVs.

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The zero-emission ‘Cinquecento’ rides an an all-new, electric-only platform and measures in at 60mm longer, 60mm wider, 40mm taller and 20mm longer in wheelbase than the combustion-engined car it – for the first few years of production at least – will be sold alongside.

Energy comes from a 42kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which enables a range on the European WLTP cycle of 320km (199mi) – second only to the larger Opel Corsa-e and related Peugeot e-208.

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Driving the front wheels is an 87kW electric motor. Fiat claims 0-100km/h and 0-50km/h sprint times of 9.0 and 3.1 seconds respectively, through it’s the latter that’s likely to be of greater relevance to city buyers.

85kW DC fast-charging via a CCS plug is fitted as standard, capable of recharging the compact battery from 0 to 80 per cent in just 35 minutes. On one of FCA’s new 7.4kW ‘Easy Wallboxes’, the 500 can gain a full charge from dead in six hours.

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Three driving modes are on offer: Normal, Range and Sherpa. The latter mode – named after the Himalayan people of Nepal – is designed to optimise efficiency and range, by limiting power and torque, cutting the top speed to 80km/h (from 150km/h) and deactivating comfort features including climate control and heated seats.

The ‘New 500’ is the first city car to feature Level 2 semi-autonomous driving aids, consisting of adaptive cruise control and lane centering assist. There’s also autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot monitoring, driver attention alert and a 360-degree camera.

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Visually, the 2020 EV is an evolution of its predecessor, with split LED headlights, integrated door handles, modern LED taillights and a large 500 badge up front.

Inside, there’s a tablet-style 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen mounted in the centre of the dashboard, running FCA’s latest UConnect 5 operating system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The driver looks at a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster through a two-spoke flat-bottomed steering wheel.

The 2020 Fiat 500 is scheduled to go on sale in Europe later in 2020 as a convertible in “la Prima” launch edition trim, which features LED headlights, leather trim, 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels and chrome accents.

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However, don’t expect it to be anywhere near as affordable as the petrol-powered version, as prices for the 500 ‘la Prima’ in its home market of Italy start at €37,900 (AUD$64,000) – more than double the price of the cheapest ICE-fueled 500.

A trio of one-off special editions designed by Giorgio Armani, Bvlgari and Kastell – each with a unique look – will be auctioned off later this year, with proceeds going to charities associated with actor Leonardo di Caprio.

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