Fiat 500 Hybrid
By Bill McCarthy
The Italian phrase Dolce Vita can be translated as ‘the sweet life’ or ‘the good life’ and the mission of the tiny Fiat seems to be to deliver that. Even if it seems at times, the slick retro Italian puts style above substance.
But the remarkable success story of the Fiat 500 goes on with the latest chapter embracing the electric age.
Fiat says it will remove all non-electrified vehicles from sale in the UK in 2022, after 2021 saw the biggest annual increase in electric vehicle registrations in the UK
It has the same retro look of its diminutive predecessor of which was sol popular from 1957 through to 1975. But the latest version is very much a city car of the 21st century – cheapish to buy and cheap to tax and insure. There are four trim levels, Pop, Connect, of course the Dolcevita version and this range topping Sport.
Its range now features a petrol version, a mild hybrid and the all-electric 500.
Mild is the operative word really when compared to full hybrids or plug-in versions.
The set-up increases economy by allowing an auxiliary battery and electric motor to recuperate braking energy provide a boost to the engine when required, by assisting stop/start function, improving mpg and reducing CO2 emissions.
The attraction of the 500 for many is that it can be enhanced and customised without breaking the bank and even if not, still has that funky look much favoured by young drivers.
Styling cues include body-coloured bumpers, smart alloy wheels, a fixed panoramic glass roof, hybrid badging, tinted rear windows, rear spoiler and satin graphite door mirrors
The interior is certainly not filled with soft touch plastic finish, more painted dash and cheaper trim, but that does not detract from the car’s character.
The dashboard is dominated by the seven-inch touchscreen which controls smartphone connectivity and infotainment. Bluetooth, DAB, satnav with TomTom’s Live connected traffic services and smartphone integration. The binnacle is dominated by a single large dial.
This version also features sports seats and steering wheel.
Electric windows are standard as is air con, central locking and power steering.
Boot space is, well, limited, to say the least. with just 185 litres available. Fold the seats for more space. But don’t expect to get the golf clubs in there.
But that’s not what this car is about and you can still get your overnight bag or a couple of bags of shopping in the space..
On the road, the one-litre, three-cylinder engine is lively enough from a standing start, but then has been worked pretty hard for any kind of decent acceleration. It takes around 13 seconds to hit the 60mph mark.
Mated to a five-speed gearbox, plenty of shifting up and down is needed, particularly around town to maximise performance. It is very economical however with a claimed 60.1mpg and emissions of 107g/km.
Safety kit is comprehensive with seven airbags, driver and passenger airbags, side airbags, window airbags and driver’s knee airbags, stability control and ABS and parking sensors.
Fun, funky, economical and safe. The tried and tested recipe is still a success.
Fiat 500 Hybrid Sport
Mechanical: 70bhp, 999cc three cylinder engine driving front wheels via five speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 114mph
Combined MPG: 60.1
Insurance Group: 13
C02 emissions: 107g/km
Bik rating: 26%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles