Electric Car Awards 2023: Best electric small car
With electrified cars now coming in all shapes and sizes – and available to suit every budget – we’ve named the best models in every class. Here we look at the best electric small car...
When a popular TV series is rebooted with a completely different cast, the prospect can have viewers up in arms. Likewise, reinventing a combustion-engined car to have electric power instead risks upsetting diehard fans.
In the cast of the Fiat 500, though, the petrol engine only had a supporting role. What defines it is the set dressing; the way it looks, inside and out, and the way it makes you feel. Here, the electric 500 follows the original script as faithfully as any devotee could ask for. Its exterior design includes all the original’s retro cues yet somehow seems utterly up to date, and the interior remains charming yet offers all the essential kit you need, such as sat-nav, DAB radio and smartphone connectivity, all accessed via a 10.3in touchscreen.
When it comes to driving, the electric 500 is frankly much more entertaining than the old petrol-engined car (which remains available for those who refuse to be convinced). Even the cheapest version, with its 95bhp motor and 24kWh battery, is a lot nippier, and our preferred 42kWh, 116bhp version feels even quicker than its 9.0sec 0-62mph time suggests. And crucially, it retains the original’s tight, city-friendly turning circle and nimble feel. True, the rival Peugeot e-208 has a comfier ride on urban roads and motorways alike, but the 500 is far from being a boneshaker.
The bigger battery of our preferred version gives it a competitive range, too. Officially, 199 miles is possible; that’s much farther than the similarly retro-themed Mini Electric (145 miles) can manage, and only 17 miles behind the e-208. The 500 won’t take long to charge, either; it can accept rates of up to 85kW, which means it can be topped up from 10-80% in 25 minutes if you use a suitably powerful public charger. The Mini is much slower to charge (50kW), but the 500 falls a little short of the e-208’s 100kW capability.
Like the original, the electric 500 isn’t the roomiest car in the world; the e-208 is a better bet if you envisage carrying adults in the back, and its boot can carry twice as many carry-on suitcases. The driver does sit higher in the Fiat than in the Peugeot, though, and that means a better view out in urban traffic.
But where it really wins is on price. Yes, the electric 500 is a lot pricier than its fossil-fuel-sipping stablemate, but the 42kWh version undercuts the e-208 by around £7000, and the 24kW version is among the cheapest electric cars you can buy. All in all, this is one reboot that deserves to do really well in the ratings.
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