Fiat 500e – Small Doesn’t Mean Cheap

The Fiat 500, in any form, is a very small car. Granted, the 500X crossover and 500L are a little larger, but still, the regular 500 is dinky. But don’t assume that being diminutive means being Spartan or uncomfortable.

Nope, my little 500e, Fidelio, is a very pleasant place to be. Granted, the rear seats aren’t spacious, but I did fit my 5-11 son back there last night (for a short trip). It’s the other things that lift the 500e up.

One thing is the leatherette seats, which are soft and stand up tall. The two-tone black/white look is chic, blended with the overall black/white theme of the entire car (a $395 option, and worth it). Cheap cars are all black or gray. White is a fancy color. The plastic panels on the dash evoke the painted metal of the 500’s 1950’s ancestor, as do the chrome rings around the gauges and round control buttons. Nice.

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From a modern point of view, there’s SiriusXM Satellite radio, and it’s easy to manage from the steering wheel controls. They’re on the BACK of the wheel, as in all Fiat Chrysler Automobiles products. I love that feature–you never have to look away from the road. Also, the white leather (with red trim) on the steering wheel itself is upscale. Oh–the sound from the audio system is surprisingly good, too.

A real luxury is how you hear that audio. With no vibration or noise from an engine, the 500e is blissfully quiet. On the freeway, you may get a little noise from rougher road surfaces, but in town, it’s almost eerily silent, and the music comes in sharp and clear.

The 500e has climate control–set it and forget it style. Without a radiator or a hot engine to generate the heat, I’m not sure where it comes from, but it’s a hearty blast when you start out in a 42-degree morning. Heated seats (one level only, though) are common these days, but are often lacking in a “cheap” car. You get ’em here.

Having a display on the instrument panel for each individual tire’s pressure is nice. The Audi A3 I drove recently didn’t even have that.

The 500e may be narrow, but it’s tall, so you don’t feel claustrophobic. The colorful. friendly instrument panel and small but effective center screen convey lots of useful information, and keep the black-and-white environment cheery.

With an electric motor, your car feels more like it’s rolling down the road rather than being dragged along. Stepping on the accelerator (don’t call it “the gas”) generates an immediate push forward. With 111 horsepower and 147 lb.-ft. of torque, the 500e is never poky, even going up the steep hills in my neighborhood.

Here’s to many more great (short) trips in Fidelio, the little blue EV.

 

 

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