Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

The confusing naming disguises the fact that this 500 is a completely new car. You could be forgiven for thinking it’s a re-engineered version of the existing car, but when you park it next to an older one, it becomes abundantly clear that cannot be the case: the new car’s size and proportions are just distinct enough that this can only be a new car.

Fiat is now part of Stellantis, of course, and most if not all of that group’s future EVs will use the CMP platform developed by PSA, which can accommodate petrol and diesel engines, hybrid powertrains and full EV tech. However, the 500 project began before the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA, and it rides on a bespoke EV skateboard platform. It remains to be seen if other Stellantis cars will be based on this architecture as well, or if all future models will use PSA’s technology.

The Fiat 500 is one of few three- door hatchbacks that remain on sale. The very long doors and the difficulty clambering into the back show why five doors make more sense, but it just wouldn’t look right, would it?

Mechanically, it’s a relatively unadventurous recipe, using MacPherson struts for the front suspension and a torsion beam axle at the rear, as is the norm for a small front-drive car. Not going with rear-wheel drive might seem like a missed opportunity given both the 500’s history and the way the mass-EV market is developing technically, but the traction benefits of RWD are limited in low-powered compact cars like this, and not having a rear motor prevents the 500’s already small boot from becoming comically tiny.

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The drive battery under the floor has a capacity of 42.0kWh in most versions, including the car we’re testing here. Of that, 37.3kWh is usable, giving a WLTP range of 199 miles. On lower trim levels, there is also a smaller battery, with just 21.3kWh of usable capacity good for 118 miles. That base version comes with peak power of just 94bhp, while other new 500s have 117bhp.

Those numbers are no longer class-leading but are certainly not bad for a car this diminutive. And the new 500 is definitely still small. It has grown compared with the petrol-engined version: it’s 61mm longer at 3632mm, as well as 39mm taller; and while the body has got 56mm wider, it’s barely wider than the old car across the mirrors. And that’s just as useful in busy cities as it is when threading down country lanes.

Possibly more important than the technical details is that, for such a style-led car, this still looks unmistakably like a modern-day Fiat 500. It’s a remarkably unfussy and restrained design, and one that earned Maserati’s vice-president of design, Klaus Busse, the Design Hero prize in Autocar’s 2021 awards.

Like the petrol 500, it is available as a regular hatchback or as a 500C with a retractable fabric roof. Left hand-drive markets also get a 3+1 version with an extra, rear-hinged door to aid rear entry, but that has not yet been confirmed for the UK.