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Used test: Fiat 500 Electric vs Mini Electric

When used, these small, stylish electric cars are sub-£15k buys, but should you go for the Fiat 500 Electric or Mini Electric?...

Used test: Fiat 500 Electric vs Mini Electric

The contenders

Fiat 500 Electric 42kWh Icon

List price when new £27,995
Price today £14,000*
Available from 2021-present

The tiny 500 Electric may be stylish, but does it offer the same level of luxury that its rival does?  

Mini Electric Level 2

List price when new £29,900
Price today £14,000**
Available from 2020-present

For what it lacks in range, the Mini Electric makes up for in sprightly acceleration and a premium interior

*Price today is based on a 2021 (**2020) model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

Back in 1969, 'The Italian Job' was released and, in arguably its most famous scene, it starred three Minis bombing around Turin. Some decades later, in 2003, we got a remake that starred a trio of newer Minis. If the classic film was to be remade again for 2024, we reckon it'd feature a few Mini Electrics

Mind you – fun fact incoming – before the iconic British hatchback was decided upon for that original film, the chief of a certain Italian manufacturer offered to donate some examples of its famous city car for that car chase. And, if that'd pulled through, perhaps a modern-day remake would see three Fiat 500 Electrics getting the limelight. 

Fiat 500 Electric front cornering

It's easy to picture either of these cars in the role, with their small sizes and zippy electric performance helping them make light work of urban streets. What's more, their abilities aren't limited to the silver screen, because just £14,000 will net you a three-year-old 500 Electric or four-year-old Mini Electric – that's roughly £15,000 off their respective new car prices.

But which of these old foes should you buy? We have the answer. 


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

The 500 Electric has a modest (by electric car standards) 117bhp and, against our stopwatch, the model managed a 0-60mph time of 8.0sec. However, aided by the instantaneous way it delivers its grunt, we feel the 500e offers performance that's more than satisfactory, especially around town but also on the motorway. 

Nonetheless, the Mini Electric is the quicker car, with its 181bhp resulting in a 0-60mph time of 7.2sec – it had started raining as we came to test it, we should add, so expect the model to be even quicker in the dry. Anyway, statistics aside, the Mini feels punchier – in general but more noticeably so at higher speeds. 

Mini Electric front cornering

The Mini Electric's ride is tolerable, but it's the firmer of the two and it can be quite unforgiving – you even feel small bumps that you'd expect to glide over. Driving the 500 Electric is a plusher and more comfortable affair, the only caveat being that the ride can suffer a little bit more from side-to-side motions as you go over patchy surfaces, jostling you around in your seat a bit more. Naturally, that's it's shorter, taller body working against it. 

On the plus side, Mini Electric's firmness has its benefits in regards to handling. In short, the Mini is the sharper car to drive, with keen agility and minimal body lean. It's a composed, capable little car that only really starts to unravel when you're pushing the car near its limits – it's at that point that you start to notice its hefty weight (for a car of its size). 

The 500 Electric is great around town, having an even tighter turning circle than the Mini, but it fails to match the Mini's enthusiasm as you pick up the pace, with its lesser body control and overly light steering robbing you of some confidence – the Mini's steering is sweeter, with more good weighting and precision. What's more, just like the Mini, the 500 Electric's weight does make itself known if you drive spiritedly. However, that's about the extent of our complaints: overall, the 500 Electric is a good, fun car to drive. 

Fiat 500 Electric rear cornering

While the 500 Electric is quite noisy in terms of wind and road noise, particularly on the motorway, it's no worse than your average city car and it never transitions from noticeable to annoying. The Mini Electric, on the other hand, is closer to making that jump. It has quite a prevalent tyre roar and constant wind noise, meaning you'll sooner find yourself turning up your music to help drown it out over a long motorway journey. 

Mind you, in such a scenario, there's another reason stopping us from recommending the Mini Electric: its range. Officially, you should see 145 miles on a full charge, but you'll struggle to see that in the real world, particularly if it's cold. In our winter Real Range tests, the Mini managed 113 miles. In a different winter test, the 500 Electric went a little further: 118 miles. 

​Mini Electric rear cornering

Naturally, both will fare better in the summer. We also suspect that, if the conditions were identical, the gap between their efforts would be larger, because the 500 Electric's official range is a much more respectable 199 miles. 

Next: What are they like inside? >>

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