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Autopia’s Fiat 500e Test Drive. Finally, a Review that Makes Sense!

The Fiat 500e Looks Like it Just Rolled Out of an Auto Show
The Fiat 500e Looks Like it Just Rolled Out of an Auto Show

Since Tesla Motors proved the electric vehicle could be cool and capable, what could possibly interest us more than if it was half the price? Well, no, the Fiat 500e isn’t even in the same class as the Model S, but it is just as cool and capable!

Most car reviews are filled with information that car buyers can’t really use. Zero-to-sixty time, horsepower and top speed are all good information, but how many people use their cars for sprints? Very few, and how many states are there that have a speed limit over 85mph? Zero. Aside from fuel economy, there really isn’t a whole lot that a car review can tell you that would convince you to buy a car. [Never buy a car you haven’t test driven.] When considering an electric vehicle, perhaps the only good information you can glean from a review is its range and how long it takes to recharge.

Given that specifications aren’t very useful, I really enjoyed this test drive and review of the new Fiat 500e, a pure electric vehicle in an otherwise standard Fiat 500 body. Wired.com’s Autopia Editor Damon Lavrinc said at the end of his review: “what Fiat’s done is make an affordable, barely compromised, stylish EV that not only gives enthusiasts an electric car with character, it’s so damn inexpensive you’d be a fool for not putting it at the top of your EV short list. And it’s a short list to begin with. Sales are slated to begin in May. The line starts behind me.”

What’s so convincing about taking a Fiat 500e for a ride? First, a word about torque, which is instantaneous from zero miles per hour. This isn’t exactly useful cruising the highway, but in the city, you’ll notice the quick acceleration in stop and go traffic. Of course, the electric powertrain adds some 600 pounds [over the convention Fiat 500], but Fiat put the weight where it belongs, in the floor and toward the rear. The low and rearward center of gravity, combined with the small footprint and spirited acceleration, keeps the wheels on the ground and you don’t feel like you’re going to flip the car over making a quick lane change.

The Fiat 500e looks like a concept rolled right out of an auto show instead of a showroom full of cookie-cutter vehicles. Even more convincing is the price. Though the price is set at $32,000, twice that of the base Fiat 500, the lease option is what you’ll want. For just $995 down and $199/mo, you can lease a Fiat 500e for three years. Doesn’t sound impressive? That’s the same that you’ll pay for the base model 500 and they’ll throw in the $1,995 charging station with the lease. If I lived in California, the only state where the Fiat 500e is being sold at the moment, I’d be in line right behind Mr. Lavrinc. I wonder if I can import one to New Jersey?

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