Compact electric SUV wades in with design flair, a useful range and reasonable pricing – and shuns the bloat of many modern family cars

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The Fiat 600e is not all that it appears. At first glance, you could certainly mistake the new car for being a direct replacement for the firm’s 500X crossover hatchback.

Well, supposedly it isn’t. While the 500X is set to continue in production for at least another couple of years, this new, slightly smaller and lower hatchback slots in just beneath it in Fiat’s range, where it will play bigger, four-door sibling to the Fiat 500 – just as the original 600 of the 1950s did.

As such, Fiat is trumpeting this car as its return to the traditional European supermini market, in which it last offered a car back in 2018, before the Punto was withdrawn. And so rumbles on Fiat’s now well-worn product strategy of copying the successful recipe of the smaller 500 and pasting it into as many parts of the car market as it possibly can, and giving 500 owners as many new and interesting reasons to come back and trade up as it can think of.

This time, owners of the Fiat 500 electric will be in the crosshairs too. That’s because the 600 will be offered in both EV and 48V mild-hybrid form, the former adopting Stellantis’s latest e-CMP2 chassis, battery and motor technology, but delivering it at a lower showroom price than its many group relations, in what feels like a commercial move borrowed from an old Fiat playbook.

So, for the first time since the turn of the 1970s, Fiat will have both a 500 and a 600 in its showrooms. The cheaper, petrol-electric 600 is a car we have yet to drive at all – so the 600e will provide our first serious look at Fiat’s all-new model.

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The range at a glance

Models Power From
600 Hybrid 99bhp £23,695
600 Hybrid La Prima 99bhp £26,965
600e Red 154bhp £32,995
600e La Prima 154bhp £36,995

The Fiat 600, like its Jeep Avenger relation, is offered in both 48V mild- hybrid and EV forms. Entry-level spec depends on the powertrain you are buying, with the 600e getting more equipment than the equivalent bottom-rung Hybrid.

Run all the way to a 600e La Prima and you receive 18in alloy wheels, extra chrome body trim, heated massage seats, a reversing camera, a powered tailgate, adaptive cruise control and wireless device charging.


fiat 600e review 2024 02 side panning

The 600 is only a couple of inches smaller and lower of roofline than the 500X – and you can bet that’s what product planners call “temporary product overlap” (a signal, in other words, that whatever 500X replacement there is in the pipeline will itself grow dimensionally into clearer air).

It makes a large and tall supermini hatchback, measuring almost 4.2m long and more than 1.5m high. But if you look at its measurements carefully, the 600 most closely resembles not a Fiat at all but rather a different Stellantis model that’s built on the same product architecture at the same Polish factory: the Jeep Avenger.

The 600’s wheelbase is an exact match for the Jeep’s; its roofline height and width are almost identical; and there are other resounding similarities between the two cars that we will come back to – not all of which put the Fiat in the best position to thrive.

The car can be had with Stellantis’s 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, 48V powertrain at its entry level, teamed as it is with the group’s e-DSC6 hybrid-specific automatic gearbox, although it produces only 99bhp in the 600 rather than the 134bhp of other applications. 

On the electric side, the car uses the same second-generation, 154bhp, separately excited synchronous motor and 54kWh battery as the recently introduced Vauxhall Astra Electric and Peugeot e-308. It’s a front-wheel-drive EV in a niche in which rear-driven rivals are just as common, then, and it’s a little short on both peak motor power and battery capacity compared with similarly priced alternatives – although Fiat claims that good running efficiency helps mitigate at least one of those factors.

The car is certainly lighter than some compact EVs: less than 1600kg in range-topping trim as we weighed it. This beats an equivalent Smart #1 by almost 300kg and a Renault Mégane E-Tech by about 100kg. 

Despite the lightness, the car comes with a heat pump as standard, but its axle specification – conventional struts at the front and a torsion beam with a Panhard rod at the rear – is fairly simple.

The exterior design is avowedly cute and cartoonish in its detailing, but offers plenty of visual interest – although perhaps rather too many ‘600’ logos to count.

However, it’s a shame to see Fiat – the champion of choice on colour and trim combinations when the modern 500 was in its pomp – offering only a handful of colours on the 600e, and little in the way of interior colour and trim configurability. We can blame the notorious streamlining culture espoused by Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares for that.


fiat 600e review 2024 09 interior

This car may be large by supermini class standards but, in some ways at least, you wouldn’t know it.

Although it feels wider across the cabin than is typical of a car in this class, offers quite generous front-row head room and has a 360-litre boot that is fairly roomy by the standards of its peers, its second-row passenger space is relatively mean. Plenty of smaller conventional superminis have better space for those travelling in the back, as do many similarly affordable EVs.

Up front, you sit at a slightly raised hip point, and the way to enter – avoiding both a raised sill with your trailing heels and quite a pronounced lump in the floorpan caused by the under-floor battery – reminded testers of the access quirks of other related Stellantis EVs.

But you sit comfortably enough, in smallish, firmish, slightly thinly padded but decently adjustable front seats embossed boldly with patterned Fiat logos, and in front of fairly well-placed and adjustable controls. The car’s only significant ergonomic disappointments are slightly shallow-feeling front footwells and seat cushions that neither extend nor incline to support your thighs.

The promotional material crows about the charismatic Fiat charm of the car’s interior design, and how cleverly it references the smaller 500, but in actuality it was similarities with the aforementioned Jeep that our testers universally noted.

While the 600e does get its own rounded instrument cowl and upper dashboard design, pretty much everything from the air vents down is shared with the Avenger, including the voluminous, accordion-lidded centre console storage cubby. The 10.3in touchscreen infotainment system is likewise the same in all but the veneer of its graphics, as are its ventilation controls, indicator stalks, steering wheel button consoles and more.

We’re not naive: making good product strategy for Stellantis brands means sharing parts. But the last time EVs from different group brands felt this closely related was probably when the current Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot e-208 came along in 2020 – and even they had better-differentiated interiors than this.

Granted, this is something a road tester is more likely to notice than an owner, but it’s nonetheless hard to take seriously Fiat’s claim to have made a uniquely Italian cockpit here.

Multimedia system

Both grades of 600e get a 7.0in digital instrument screen and a 10.3in Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system. If you splash the cash on a top-level La Prima model, you get six speakers of audio power rather than four and a factory navigation system.

Both systems have wireless smartphone mirroring, though. Thanks to the presence of a few physical shortcut keys, it’s fairly easy to switch between native and mirroring modes, so most testers used their smartphones for navigation and music.

There are physical controls for heating and ventilation, plus a volume/on-off button, so top-level usability is good enough. But penetrating the touchscreen itself – if only to disable the lane keeping assistance, or to set the cabin pre-conditioning schedule – does take a bit more menu-hopping than is ideal.

If you do want to use the car’s factory navigation system, it will accept destination programming via voice command with dependable accuracy, although the way it filters and suggests charging locations could be more detailed.


fiat 600e review 2024 24 mototr

This road test gives us a chance to gauge how much improvement Stellantis’s latest zero-emissions powertrain hardware has brought to its electric cars.

The Citroën ë-C4 X – equipped with the group’s first-gen battery and motor, and closely comparable to the Fiat for kerb weight – needed just under 10sec to accelerate from rest to 60mph, and 8.8sec to get from 30-70mph, when we tested it.

In dry conditions, the 600e needed 8.8sec for the former and 7.7sec for the latter. So that second-gen motor does deliver gains against the clock, although not the sort to really make the 600e an EV you would seek out because it feels particularly energetic on the road. Most electric rivals are still a fair bit quicker.

More disappointing, though, is the way that Fiat – and, to be fair, its sibling brands as well – has calibrated the power delivery of this motor. The 600e has Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes, but only in the last of those does it let you access any more than the 130bhp or so that its predecessor motor produced.

So, if you want that motor’s more authoritative briskness and improved drivability, you either have to permanently engage Sport mode, or floor the accelerator pedal beyond its kickdown switch (which, to us, always feels like a slightly brutish move). Drive in Normal instead and the 600e can feel a little underpowered as it gets past 50mph.

Energy regeneration is handled very simply, and with a lightness of touch that would make this car an easy switch for someone moving into an EV. There are no regen paddles to toggle, and only a B transmission mode that ramps up ‘feet-off’ energy scavenging from very little to a moderate level.

So one-pedal driving isn’t something a 600e offers – and the brake pedal progression you therefore depend on isn’t brilliantly realised. But if you want an EV that coasts fairly freely and conserves its momentum on a trailing throttle by default, you will like what you find here. (We would always prefer the control configurability to have either.)


fiat 600e review 2024 25 handling

Twenty-five years ago, Fiat had a knack for making fairly small cars of a certain directness and simplicity about their dynamic character, capable of delivering a little bit of fun in an unlikely package.

These are challenging times for superminis, of course, and people don’t buy the type they used to. But what the 600e shows you is how differently the firm is tuning and targeting its cars today than it once did.

It is suitability for modern life, and the urban environment particularly, that Fiat claims to be aiming for now. It’s an aim that makes the 600e easy and undemanding to drive, and both manoeuvrable and broadly comfortable with it – but not especially memorable, characterful, agile or fun.

The car has medium-soft-feeling, longish-travel suspension; steers lightly, and with consistent if mildly disinterested pace; has a grip level that’s only moderately high and is balanced to reassure; and betrays its priorities especially when rolling its way through corners in more pronounced fashion than you would probably expect from a small car.

Typically, it doesn’t wallow – and nor does it heave excessively, or pitch its way out of levelness with the ground, over vertical inputs either. But the 600e does feel, in every sense, a comfort-oriented vehicle intended to soothe and coddle its occupants, not stimulate them.

The car retains decent stability, and a fairly settled gait on both cross-country roads and motorways, but the dynamic zip, poise and chutzpah of a small, Latinate supermini is conspicuously absent here.

Comfort & Isolation

While it doesn’t have the most comfortable front seats or the roomiest second row, the 600e does look after its occupants with pretty mild touring manners.

It handles bumps with suppleness both in town and out of it, and although it’s soft, it doesn’t loll around in such a way that might make you feel seasick over changing surfaces. Visibility is good enough in all directions, and the 180deg, plan-view reversing camera of our test car made parking easier than it might otherwise have been.

The car isn’t the most isolated or hushed in its class, but given its price position, you might not expect it to be. While some comparably priced EVs have recorded cabin noise of 60dBA and under at a 50mph cruise, the 600e registered 63dBA. That rose to 67dBA at 70mph motorway pace (Renault Mégane E-Tech 66dBA, Smart #1 65dBA), when a little wind and road noise noticeably intruded into the cabin.

A better-tuned, more progressive brake pedal that blended friction braking and motor regen more impressively would certainly save your passengers from nodding heads at junctions, while slightly less powerfully assisted steering might make your line through a corner a bit smoother. But this is broadly a comfortable car, if not the quietest or the most spacious.


fiat 600e review 2024 01 front cornering

Fiat’s current £3000 e-Grant retail offer certainly catches the eye but, when it comes to the brass tacks of what a 600e might actually cost you per month, it’s only really equivalent to the 0% interest offers that rival brands are making.

But that does leave at least the entry-level 600e in a relatively competitive position on value. After a 10% deposit, and over a four-year term, the 600e Red could cost you less than £400 a month. Few electric alternatives outside the model ranges of BYD or MG would cost significantly less.

The 16in steel wheels of that entry-level model might put some buyers off, but the bottom-rung 600e is decently equipped otherwise. Insurance groups start from 25 – lower than with some rivals (MG 4 EV, BYD Dolphin, Smart #1) but higher than others (Citroën ë-C4).

For range, efficiency and rapid-charging power, meanwhile, the car is a bit of a mixed bag. In real-world testing, we averaged a decent 3.4mpkWh, but with only a little over 50kWh of usable battery capacity, that made for just 173 miles of dependable range. At motorway speeds, this certainly isn’t the 200-mile prospect that you could rely on an MG 4 or Cupra Born to be.

The 600e might get closer to its 252-mile WLTP claim at lower cruising speeds, but its 72kW weighted average DC charging test result is also unlikely to reassure drivers who regularly do longer trips. Rivals we have tested have performed up to 30% better.


fiat 600e review 2024 27 static

If the main mission of the Fiat 600e is to give owners of the electric 500 who have outgrown their cars something with a little more zero-emissions range and space to move into, it should certainly serve its purpose.

But even these customers might wonder how much Fiat-typical style and charm there is about this car, beyond its cutesy primary features, once they get past the brace of extra passenger doors.

Because the truth is that this new compact Fiat isn’t especially appealing in any emotional, subjective way – as some kind of design essential or fashion item – but nor is it really a sound, sensible buy either.

Between its slightly underwhelming EV powertrain, its smallish-yet-tallish footprint and its derivative, averagely packaged interior, the 600e feels much less like the kind of car its designers and engineers really wanted to make, and more like the stopgap that platform engineering made possible.

It is an entirely blameless and quite competent car for all that, and might be welcomed by those looking at the cheaper end of the EV market. But, from Fiat, you might reasonably expect something cheerier, livelier, more original and more innovative.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.