Fiat 600e 2023 experience | maximum speed
Let’s not stop rating the Fiat 600e. He identifies as non-binary, and we live in an inclusive world, right? It’s somewhere between a supermini and a small crossover.
Its designers talk about the 600e as a big brother to the electric Fiat 500, and the design certainly matches that. It’s the same height. Which makes it a very small car, the successor to those huge numbers of Grande Puntos, Puntos and Unos.
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On the other hand, she has a cross-functional job to do. It is the successor to the Fiat 500X, which was also very successful in its day. But it’s actually less crossed than the non-crossed 500X.
We’re testing the all-electric 600e here, and it’s competitively priced. But there will be a much cheaper hybrid car after about half a year, because Fiat sees itself as a car for the people and does not want to isolate itself from the 80 percent of people who still buy cars with engines.
The competition is mostly internal, from the Stellantis Empire. Think of the Vauxhall Mokka and Jeep Avenger as crossovers, or the Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa as compact cars. There are MG 4 and BYD Dolphin. It’s also important to use a Kia Soul with the smaller battery option. Nissan Leaf is teetering on the brink of retirement. The Hyundai Kona electric car has just moved up a step in its second generation, so it’s more expensive.
I can see 500ish detail.
Yes, lights and smileys are clearly a branch of the 500-member family tree. As well as the general shape of the facade, and the upholstery patterns. Fiat does a great job of painting the 600e in a range of cheerful “Italian” colours.
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But while the 500’s body is a generously curvy thing, the 600 has lost much of that blocky sculpting. Its sides are more gentle. The designers claim that they did this so as to provide as much head and trunk space as possible. This is, shall we say, a very boring approach to ‘500 greater’ design.
Did they succeed in saving space?
At just under 4.2 metres, this is a roomy and usable car with a decent boot. No frunk though. Click the ‘Interiors’ tab in this review for more.
So is it just a stretched electric 500?
No, something else entirely. Fiat hasn’t made any shy assurances that this is an all-new car. It uses proven underwear. “This platform has already won Car of the Year twice,” said a member of the development team – the Peugeot 208 and Jeep Avenger both won this award.
They believe this brings another selling point. They are painfully aware that Fiat has never been synonymous with rugged reliability and durability. So they want to emphasize that the 600 is built on the same dependable foundation as all of its Stellantis siblings, the 208s, 2008s, Corsas, Mokkas, C4s and DS 3s. And the closest of all is the Jeep Avenger.
The electrical system—motor, power inverter, and battery—is the second-generation setup that comes with facelift versions of those other cars.
What does that do for the numbers?
The motor makes 156 horsepower and the battery nets 51 kWh. It’s not very large, but it doesn’t have to be, because we’ve always found cars with this powertrain to be remarkably efficient. Our tester for this test got a real-world mixed-road weather range of about 220 miles, versus a WLTP of 250 miles.
So, if it has this much in common with so many cars, let me guess how it drives?
Fiat has abandoned the idea of small gas cars. The 600e is set up to be comfortable. It’s quiet, and accelerates smoothly. But the steering and brakes are infuriating. The wheel is very light and it is difficult to smoothly turn into a turn. Brake pedal is inconsistent. More details in the Leadership tab. But in short, don’t buy it to drive endless joy.
There are no chargers near me, and I want to keep my monthly payments low. Hybrid talk.
It’s without a plug. The engine is a 100-hp three-cylinder, powered by an Atkinson cycle engine (better for part-throttle efficiency). It has a large alternator on the engine, and another 29-horsepower engine integrated into a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. So, it’s a fairly mild hybrid system, but it’s no mean feat. CO2 will be around 110g/km, which is good. More details when we drive it in late 2024, more than half a year after the 600e electric car goes on sale in Britain.
What is the ruling?
“It ticks all the rational boxes, but the rivals are better to drive and more interesting. Fiat needs to try harder“
The 600 tick the rational boxes. It’s a well-equipped compact crossover with electric power at a price many people would pay for a gasoline-powered car. It’s spacious for a car of this size and comfortable. The electrical stuff — efficiency, charging times, standard heat pump — doesn’t drop the ball.
But aside from the clever lighting jewels and friendly face, the exterior design doesn’t really break the mold. Not like a Mokka or (Marmitey) DS 3. And it’s not as good to drive as many other small electric cars. It’s as if Fiat wasn’t trying hard enough.