Fiat has opened up deposit-free reservations on its EV Fiat 500 hatchback, giving UK drivers the chance to own what the company claims is the first car in its segment to offer Level 2 autonomous driving. The car was revealed to the world in March after plans for showing it at Geneva were scrapped due to Coronavirus, but now Fiat has put all the details prospective buyers need out into the wild.
For £26,995 you get a car with a range of up to 199 miles (WLTP) with a nice trick in the charging stakes. In additional to the usual niceties like fast charging to power the battery to 80% in just 35 minutes, the 85kW fast charge system can build up a sufficient energy reserve in five minutes to travel 30 miles.
As with the non-hatch version, there are three driving modes – normal driving mode, Range or Sherpa with Range and Sherpa seeing you lose functions in return for efficiency and mileage. The electric motor has an output of 87kW, providing a maximum speed of 93mph and acceleration from zero to 62mph in 9 seconds with zero to 31mph in 3.1 seconds, which is respectable but far from head-turning.
The Level 2 self-driving features, including adaptive cruise control, front cameras and all-round sensors, are the same as to be found in the non-hatch version, though Fiat claim this is “the first car in its segment to offer level 2 autonomous driving“. But given that the feature list looks similar to many other cars out there at the moment, we'll leave it to Fiat to specify what the USP is here (there's certainly no hint of upgradeable batteries – perhaps next time.)
In terms of looks, there's no denying that this is an attractive set of wheels. The main standout feature for the ‘la Prima’ hatchback is a panoramic glass sunroof to flood the passenger compartment with light, while – it is claimed – improving on-board wellbeing. It may also dazzle people in all sunlit situations, warm or cold, and cook them on really warm days, but the panoramic sunroof doesn't seem to be going away any time soon as a concept so test drivers will need to make their own call on this feature.
Three exclusive paint colours are available: pearlescent Ocean Green; metallic Mineral Grey; and three-layer Celestial Blue. As standard, the car includes full LED headlights, 17-inch diamond-cut wheels, chrome-plated inserts on the side panels, and dashboard and eco-leather seat upholstery.
Customers can now reserve the New 500 hatchback or convertible in the UK without needing to pay a deposit and here's where things get interesting: by logging on to www.fiat.co.uk, potential customers can choose between two body types – hatchback or convertible, choose a colour, sign up and indicate their preferred dealership. The system – a first in the automotive industry so Fiat claims – uses the customer’s post code to identify local environmental incentives and provides an indicative estimate of the cost of their New 500.