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2024 Fiat 500e La Prima review (video)

With a legacy spanning over six decades, the Fiat 500 has entrenched itself as an icon of urban mobility and Italian style. Now, Fiat has electrified this classic with the Fiat 500e La Prima.

It promises not just zero tailpipe emissions but also a host of interesting and traditionally quirky features, and a dollop of advanced technology. Let’s jump into the electrifying transformation of this beloved city car.

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima-Australia

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima: Specifications

Battery: 42kWh lithium-ion
Output: 87kW / 220Nm
Gearbox: Single-speed auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 17×6.5, 205/45
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 1290kg
Power-to-weight: 14.82:1 (kg:kW)
Official range (WLTP): 320km
Max recharge: 85kW, 35min to 80%
0-60km/h: 3.95 seconds*
0-100km/h: 8.52 seconds*
60-110km/h: 6.02 seconds*
1/4 mile: 16.38 seconds at 139.3km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.724g*
100-0km/h braking: 38.30m in 2.97 seconds*
Max deceleration: -1.327g*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 75*
Starting price: $55,490

*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima: How much does it cost?

The Fiat 500e comes in one trim line called the La Prima (‘the first’  – electric 500). It’s priced from an eye-opening $52,500, which is obviously a lot for a city car. But there is some (only some) justification in that figure via the application of quality leather inside and a painstakingly-detailed design, inside and out.

Even so, the regular Fiat 500 Dolcevita 1.2L petrol starts from $27,220. That’s almost half the price. This does not add up in our opinion.

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima-interior

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima: Interior & packaging

Step inside the Fiat 500e La Prima and you’re greeted with a blend of modernity and nostalgia, and plenty of Italian flair. The interior design pays homage to the original Fiat 500 while integrating contemporary elements, such as a digital touch-screen and instrument cluster.

The cabin is surprisingly spacious for its tiny external proportions. Legroom and shoulder space in the front is decent, and there is some space in the centre console for your stuff, with a wireless phone charger pad/slot in the dash.

Fiat has tried to pair in the use of eco-friendly materials like Seaqual yarn and eco-leather to prove its commitment to sustainability. But whatever, it all looks very lavish and stylish, which does help to justify the starting price. If only a little.

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima-Uconnect touchscreen

Up on the dash, FCA’s intuitive UConnect 5 infotainment system comes with high-definition graphics and advanced connectivity features such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It’s a nice screen to navigate, as usual with Uconnect systems, and we love that there are plenty of main menu buttons, and physical controls for the climate.

Now, in the back, the rear seats (just two) are pretty cramped. However, given that this measures just 3.63m long and 1.68m wide, you have to congratulate Fiat for making the absolute most out of the volume available.

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima-rear seats

For short trips, to a restaurant on a sunny boulevard, for example, the rear seats are fine for adults measuring under about 175cm tall. Any taller and you’ll need to be a bit bendy.

Likewise, boot volume is not this car’s trump card. And nor was it ever intending to be. With 185L, it’s enough space to support a weekend shopping trip with friends. But it’s not enough to accommodate the weekly groceries for the family. An under-floor cavity provides a neat spot for the charging cable as there is no front-boot under the bonnet.

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima-boot

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima: Powertrain & handling

Powered by an 87kW electric motor, the Fiat 500e La Prima delivers lively performance befitting its spirited nature and heritage. Fiat claims 0-100 km/h in 9.0 seconds and we clocked the sprint in 8.52 seconds using a Vbox and a private road. It is significantly quicker than the 1.2L petrol version, which crosses the line in a claimed 12.9 seconds.

Helping to diversify the driving character, Fiat offers three driving modes; Sherpa mode for enhanced efficiency (speed limited to 80km/h), Range mode for one-pedal driving, and Normal for the sportiest and most responsive setting (also the default on start-up).

They all feel very different but only regarding the power delivery. You won’t find adaptive dampers or anything like that. Although, for the price one might expect such functionality. Normal mode is zippy and fun. It’s the one you’ll probably use most. If the range is getting low, flick it over to Range or Sherpa to maximise the distance. It’s great to have this versatility.

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima-instrument cluster range

As for the charging, it maxes out at 85kW. That means it can’t recharge as quick as some EVs. But, this features a little 42kWh battery. Think of it as like a bucket of water. The bigger the bucket, the longer it takes to fill. This only needs 35 minutes to reach 80 per cent.

With a full battery the WLTP range is 320km. The biggest number we saw on the dash, with a completely full battery, in Normal mode, with the air-con off, was 270km. Of course, the on-board trip computer calculates this based on the recent driving conditions and demands. Even so, 270km isn’t much.

That is, if you venture outside the city. Within the city it is fine. For example, scooting across town in Sydney or Melbourne, it’s going to soak up a fair bit of that range. Which means you might be recharging this more often than something else with a bigger battery.

Fair enough, you might be thinking, it’s only a small battery anyway. But that means you’ll need to start relying on the public charging infrastructure, which, we’re afraid is still not up to scratch. It can cause proper headaches trying to figure out where the chargers are along your route, and discovering if they work or not. And then you’ll probably have to line up because, more often than not, there is only one or two plugs. It can ruin an otherwise well-planned and anticipated weekend.

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima-headlights

Fortunately, you’ll have so much fun driving the 500e, when it is charged and ready, that you’ll forget about the annoying charging experience. This is a real Fiat 500. It joyfully dances around corners and absorbs nasty road surfaces with glee. It’s actually better-prepared for cornering than the regular model, as this is 56mm wider. It’s also 60mm longer, helping with stability, with 22mm added to the wheelbase.

Despite weighing around 350kg more than the 1.2L Fiat 500 (1290kg vs 920kg), this feels very nimble and very engaging. It also has a skill that’s pretty rare these days, especially for an EV; it genuinely makes you smile as you drive along – it even looks like it’s smiling itself (see image above).

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima-charging

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima: Key attractions/reasons to buy

  • Design: The Fiat 500e La Prima retains the iconic design elements of its predecessors while embracing a more dynamic and more futuristic aesthetic. From the distinctive front logo to the flush door handles, every detail exudes sophistication and charm.
  • Uconnect touch-screen: It might be an old car but with FCA’s Uconnect 5 infotainment, it is as modern as you could ever need, in terms of connectivity and media capability. This is a very good touch-screen.
  • Puts a smile on your face: Hard to explain but very real. This makes you smile. From the Mario Bros.-like tunes that are played during startup and switch-off, to the quirky upright seating, to the zippy performance, it is a lot of fun to drive and full of character.

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima: Key considerations before you buy

  • Premium pricing: It is almost double the price of the 1.2L Fiat 500. We don’t understand why it needs to be this much more. That price difference could get you over 150,000km of driving in the petrol model.
  • Range anxiety: Limited charging infrastructure and a small battery of 42kWh, with about 270km of real-world range, means you won’t be driving far from the city too often.

2024 Fiat 500e La Prima: Video

How does it rate against its rivals?
  • Price
  • Quality look & feel
  • Interior tech
  • Powertrain performance
  • Ride & handling
  • X factor (does it stand out in its class?)

Final word

The Fiat 500e La Prima represents a bold step forward in electric mobility, marrying iconic design with future-proof technology. While its very high pricing and limited edition nature may pose hurdles for some, its smile-causing driving character and presence make it an interesting choice for urban commuters seeking style and green in equal measure.

Brett Davis

Brett started out as a motor mechanic, but eventually became frustrated working on cars that weren't his. He then earned a degree in journalism and scored a job at Top Gear Australia back in 2008, and then worked at Zoom/Extreme Performance magazines, CarAdvice, and started PerformanceDrive/PDriveTV in 2011 with Josh Bennis, and ran it for 12 years. He's now the owner and managing editor here at Driving Enthusiast.
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