City cars are generally not known for their engaging handling. Simple suspension layouts, modest limits of grip and generally conservative wheel geometries, intended to promote stability rather than boost agility, see to that. As a result, adequate handling is really all that’s required here. To our great delight, however, the 500 does a lot more than that.
Our test car came on optional 17in wheels shod with 205/45 Continental EcoContact 6 tyres. That’s a pretty meaty tyre section for a car of this size and, as a result, the 500 develops more than decent grip and traction, which is something cheaper EVs can struggle with as their more rudimentary traction control systems fail to contain the instant torque. Other versions of the 500 come on 195- or 185-section tyres, so might behave differently.
The car’s suspension is quite stiff and allows very little roll through corners, so although the light steering transmits no tactile road feel, you can be confident in placing the Fiat when going through corners at speed. In fact, it often feels like you don’t need to slow down for corners at all – just aim the car in and hang on, while the agility afforded by the short wheelbase ensures the chassis obeys your instruction in a way that is a bit reminiscent of an original Mini.
At higher speeds, the chassis proves to be stable both at a motorway cruise and when probing the car’s adhesive limits on the Millbrook Hill Route, where it ultimately understeers and then tucks in when lifting off, which is prudent for this kind of car.