What Car? says...
Non-identical twins may not look the same, but they share a good portion of their genetic make-up. Similarly, while the new Fiat 600e has its own unique look, it’s actually twinned with several other electric SUVs under the skin.
In this case, sharing with other cars is a good thing, because the 600e shares its underpinnings, 54kWh battery pack and 154bhp electric motor with the Jeep Avenger and the Peugeot e-2008 – two well-proven four-star cars that have impressed us with their sensible pricing and decent range between charges.
Speaking of range, like those rivals, the 600e can travel up to 254 miles on the WLTP combined cycle and you can top up its battery from 10-80% in less than half an hour courtesy of a 100kW charging rate. That’s pretty impressive by class standards, with only the Smart #1 having an appreciably quicker charging rate of 150kW.
As the eventual successor to the Fiat 500X (its petrol-powered sibling will remain on sale for a while longer), the 600e retains a number of the cutesy, retro-styled elements which have made the smaller electric Fiat 500 such a big hit with buyers, but has blended these with chunky cladding around its lower edges to emphasise its rufty-tufty nature. Just don’t ask for it in grey. Seriously.
As part of Fiat’s style-led marketing approach, the company recently announced that it will stop selling grey cars – despite it being the UK’s most popular car colour – because it doesn’t align with its Dolce Vita DNA. Instead, you’ll have to choose from four hues called Sun of Italy, Sea of Italy, Earth of Italy and Sky of Italy.
So, the Fiat 600e is sure to stand out against rivals such as the BYD Atto 3, the Hyundai Kona Electric, the Kia Niro EV and the MG ZS EV, but can it beat them on objective terms? Well, that’s what we’re about to find out.
Scroll on through the following sections to discover what the 600e is like to drive, how practical it is and how much it will cost you to buy and run. And once you've decided what to buy, you can find the best price by searching our New Car Buying pages.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Unlike the majority of electric SUVs – which make you choose from various battery sizes, power outputs and number of driven wheels – the Fiat 600e’s powertrain line-up couldn’t be simpler. All models come with a 54kWh battery pack and a 154bhp electric motor that drives the front wheels.
Now, that might not sound like a particularly punchy set-up (0-62mph takes 9.0 seconds, according to Fiat), but it delivers a decent turn of place in town, picking up well when you need to nip into a gap in the traffic.
And while the more powerful Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Niro EV build speed noticeably quicker, you’ll have no trouble keeping pace with fast-moving traffic on a motorway.
Just don’t expect the 600e to feel sprightly in the bends. On twisting, broiling roads the soft suspension results in noticeable body lean and the overly light steering doesn’t inspire confidence when driving spiritedly. Combined with a somewhat spongy brake pedal, there’s little fun to be had trying to gee the 600e on along your favourite road.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a car that shares its styling with the world’s most famous city car, the 600e feels most at home in an urban environment where its light steering and relatively tight turning circle make it a doddle to drive. You can also mitigate the sponginess of the brake pedal if you select ‘B’ mode because this increases the amount of regenerative braking when you lift off the accelerator, so you rarely have to touch the middle pedal.
Even on the 18in wheels of our press car (16in steel wheels come on entry-level models), the 600e deals with potholes and broken surfaces at lower speeds just as adroitly as the Jeep Avenger and doesn’t buck about on undulating roads like the bouncy DS3 Crossback E-Tense. Factor in a quiet motor and well-suppressed road noise and the 600e is a comfortable and relaxing companion.
Strengths Decent range; easy to drive in town; comfortable ride
Weaknesses Steering is far too light; plenty of body lean
The interior layout, fit and finish
Given the Fiat 600e’s retro exterior styling, you might be surprised by the relatively modern and conventional look of its interior.
In fact, it shares more than a passing resemblance to the Avenger's interior. The steering wheel, climate controls and infotainment system have all been pinched from the Avenger and you sit in a similarly commanding driving position.
None of that's a bad thing, though. Compared with the rather grey and dour-looking interiors of the MG ZS EV and the Vauxhall Mokka Electric, the red-painted dashboard on entry-level RED edition models (you get a Matt Ivory-painted dashboard in range-topping La Prima cars) adds a bit of character to your surroundings. And while most of the plastics on show are hard to the touch, they don’t feel cheap or nasty.
Visibility is impressive, thanks to the relatively tall windows. Rear parking sensors are standard across the range, and if you go for the range-topping La Prima you’ll also get sensors at the front and sides of the car, plus a rear-view camera.
You’ll find it easy to get comfortable behind the wheel, thanks to lots of adjustment in the seat (electrically adjustable, including lumbar, on La Prima models). Chances are, you’ll also find it easy to see the digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel – something that a good percentage of drivers struggle to do in the closely related Peugeot e-2008.
The 10.25in infotainment touchscreen is positioned high up in the dashboard so it’s fairly easy to view while driving. It’s easy to use, too, thanks to an intuitive operating system and quick responses to prods of the screen.
You have to pay extra for built-in sat-nav on Red trim, but we really wouldn’t bother because Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come as standard. That means you can sync up your phone and run navigation apps such as Google Maps and Waze, through the screen instead.
Strengths Simple infotainment system; decent forward visibility; top-spec model gets adjustable lumbar support (unlike in the Jeep Avenger)
Weaknesses Some soft-touch plastics would be nice
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The Fiat 600e is quite compact by electric SUV standards. It’s a touch longer than the pint-sized Jeep Avenger with which it shares its basic underpinnings, but shorter than a typical family hatchback such as the VW Golf.
Unsurprisingly, then, it’s not the most practical family car in the world. In the back, even an average-sized adult will find their knees touching the seat in front. And while headroom is decent, you don’t get reclining rear seats as you do in the Hyundai Kona Electric, so you can forget about lounging out on longer journeys.
The 600e has a 360-litre boot, which is almost identical in size to the Jeep Avenger’s (355 litres), so it’s big enough for a weekend away. The broad, square boot opening makes it easy to load chunkier items in.
That said, if you regularly carry a lot of gear, we’d recommend taking a look at the more commodious Kona Electric (466 litres) or Niro EV (475 litres).
The range-topping 600e La Prima comes with a handy adjustable boot floor. In its highest setting, it reduces the big lip at the boot entrance making it easier to load heavier items. In this position, there is also plenty of space underneath for the charging cables, which is handy because there’s no front boot.
You can fold down the rear seatbacks in a 60/40 split when you don’t need to put people in the back, which is par for the course in this class.
In terms of cubby space, the 600e isn’t quite as practical as the Hyundai Kona Electric, but it does benefit from a huge cubby at the bottom of the dashboard (covered by a magnetic lid), a couple of cupholders and a further cubby beneath the centre armrest.
Strengths Decent cubby space; height-adjustable boot floor is handy on range-topper
Weaknesses Poor rear leg room; Hyundai Kona Electric has a much bigger boot
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The Fiat 600e isn’t quite as cheap as the MG ZS EV, but it’s still very sensibly priced. It undercuts the closely related Jeep Avenger and Peugeot e-2008, as well as the Hyundai Kona Electric and the Kia Niro EV, so it’s certainly one of the more affordable electric SUVs currently on sale.
That’s especially true if you go for entry-level RED trim, which is still reasonably well-equipped. Rear parking sensors, climate control, LED headlights and a heat pump all come as standard. However, if you can find the extra cash, we would advise that you step up to La Prima.
This top-spec car still manages to undercut the equivalent versions of the Avenger and e-2008, and comes with all the kit you really want, such as 18in alloy wheels (instead of 16in steel wheels), keyless entry and go, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, a hands-free tailgate, adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree parking camera.
The 600e is too new to have been tested for safety by Euro NCAP but there are plenty of aids to stop you from having an accident in the first place, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) with cyclist and pedestrian detection. You’ll need to upgrade to La Prima to get blind-spot monitoring and automatic high-beam assist for the headlights, though.
The 600e can accept up to 100kW of charging power, for a 10-80% top-up in around 27 minutes. That’s faster than you can charge the Niro EV (80kW) and MG ZS (94kW), but fractionally slower than the Hyundai Kona Electric (102kW) and Smart #1 (150kW). If you’re plugging into a 7kW home wallbox charger, expect to wait just over eight hours for a full (0-100%) charge.
As usual with a Fiat, the 600e is covered by a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, but it’s worth bearing in mind that Hyundai offers a five-year, unlimited mile warranty, while Kia offers a seven-year warranty.
Strengths Competitive pricing; fast charging; plenty of kit
Weaknesses Smart #1 charges even faster; Kia Niro Electric comes with a longer manufacturer's warranty
The 600e can travel up to 254 miles on the WLTP combined cycle, but expect closer to 200 miles in the real world.
No, not particularly. The 0-62mph sprint takes 9.0 seconds officially, whereas a Hyundai Kona Electric will complete the same run in 7.8 seconds.
No, Fiat has stopped selling grey cars. You’ll have to choose from four hues called Sun of Italy, Sea of Italy, Earth of Italy and Sky of Italy.