Fiat 500 Cabrio long-term test: report 5

Is a convertible electric car a viable proposition or too much of a compromise? We're finding out by living with the Fiat 500 Cabrio...

Fiat 500 long-termer

The car Fiat 500 Cabrio Icon Run by Claire Evans, consumer editor

Why it’s here The Fiat 500 is our 2021 Convertible Car of the Year, and we’ve got six months to find out how it stacks up as a real-world runabout

Needs to Be comfortable, efficient and fun to punt around local rural roads, and have enough range for occasional longer journeys 

Mileage 3009 List price £31,145 Target price £31,145 Price as tested £34,010 Test range 146 miles Official range 188 miles 

8 December 2021 – Cold takes it toll  

Earlier in the year, the Fiat 500 Cabrio proved a worthy motorway mile-muncher because its range was hardly dented by high-speed journeys. However, all that has changed since the weather turned wintry. 

A recent 60-mile round trip from Kent to Essex and back when temperatures were below 5 deg C used up almost 100 miles of range. An eight-mile local jaunt that involved some steep hill climbs when the frost had only just thawed drained the batteries even faster, using 25 miles of juice.

Fiat 500 long-termer

Those journeys show that during the coldest months I can only realistically expect to get about a third to a half of the range I would in warmer weather. That's especially true on shorter trips when the car doesn't have time to heat up. 

I used the front and back windscreen de-misters, plus the air-con and the heated driver’s seat for some of that driving. Seeing how cold weather affects the car has made me think I might have to resort to alternative ways of keeping warm if I want to preserve its range.

I’ve recently been given a gilet with its own on-board heating function (with a battery and two small buttons) to help me stay warm while walking up and down the local hills, and it could be useful for staving off the cold in the car too. 

That said, although the dip in range will increase my charging bills, the 500 is still far cheaper to live with than a petrol car. It's also simple and easy to plug it in at home to replenish the batteries. All things considered, I’d still rather have it over an internal combustion-engined car.

Fiat 500e long termer

I’ve also noticed that the 500 makes a nice purry sort of noise when the electric motor is on and the car is static. It got me wondering what other electric cars sound like, so I asked some EV-driving colleagues to see if theirs had equally attractive soundtracks.

Apparently, the Skoda Enyaq makes a gentle rumbling noise and the Audi E-tron hums like a flying saucer. In my opinion, the 500’s is the most appealing EV noise I’ve heard so far – but I’m happy to challenge my workmates to prove me wrong.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Also consider