If you love the appeal of Fiat’s dinky 500e, but find its dimensions and interior room just a little too limited, the new Fiat 600e might be one to ponder over. Indeed, anyone contemplating dipping their toes into the world of family-focused, but reasonably affordable electric cars will find much to like about it.
Stellantis group, which has brands like Fiat, Jeep, Peugeot and Vauxhall, is well placed for keeping the 600e within reach of average motorists. It uses many familiar components and sits on the same platform as the new Jeep Avenger; at 2.56 metres, it has the very same wheelbase. This is very much a variation on that same vehicle, with city car looks rather than faux off-road charm.
Fiat is also keeping the 600e buying formula simple too, with just two model variants. Choose from either the distinctive Red edition or the La Prima model, which comes with enough new or tweaked Stellantis features and functions to make it seem like solid value.
Much like the smaller Fiat 500e, which we do love, the larger Fiat 600e has cutesy looks that should endear it to owners looking for something with a little personality. The EV is certainly distinctive, most obviously from the front with those funky headlights that designers have somehow managed to make engaging. The cheery front-end vibes are enhanced still further with the surrounding style flourishes, leaving the car to almost smile at you as you walk up to it. 18in alloys complete the package.
Fiat has done a cracking job with the interior too, despite a fairly large amount of hard plastic in evidence on the dash and door panels. The synthetic leather embroidered seats, emblazoned with Fiat in multiple rows works really well and the front ones have massage functionality too. Pick a car with contrasting exterior and interior colours and the overall effect is really easy on the eyes.
Mind you, the seat coverings did get us a little sweaty during our test drive, despite having the AC on the whole time. Only the driver’s side gets six-way electrical adjustment too. In the back, legroom isn’t the greatest, which probably leaves the Fiat 600e suitable for families with small children, but less suited to growing teens.
If you’ve tried any Stellantis group cars that use its e-CMP2 architecture, like the aforementioned Jeep Avenger or Vauxhall’s Corsa Electric, then jumping into the driver’s seat of the Fiat 600e reveals some familiar components. The drive buttons and drive mode selector for example, are parts common to other cars in the group. This makes the Fiat 600e feel like very familiar ground, but even if you’re not au fait with the cockpit quirks, the driver’s area is simple but effective.
Driving the Fiat 600e is even more straightforward with the same 154bhp powertrain seen in the Jeep Avenger. The wheel feels great in your hands, being very light and with just enough controls to make life easier rather than over complicated. Drive is selected using a push button in the centre of the dash, just like the Fiat 500e. Top speed is 93mph and you’ll get from 0-60 in a fairly leisurely nine seconds.
Granted, the Fiat 600e does feel a little squishy on the go, but on pothole-strewn Italian roads that successfully emulated the UK’s very own moonscape road surfaces, this was no bad thing. Sure, there’s some roll in those tighter bends too, but it’s hard to imagine most Fiat 600e owners pushing the car quite as spiritedly as we did. In fact, everyday speed limits present the Fiat 600e with few challenges. It gets the job done nicely right across the spectrum.
The only time you’ll wish you’d engaged Sport mode is if you need to give it some beans to overtake or reach the top of a particularly steep hill. Ordinarily, the normal drive mode does suffice, but the car struggles to keep up a bit if you suddenly plant your foot into the carpet. That’s quite untypical of EVs, but it’s not enough to put us off the Fiat 600e. As mentioned, the steering is quite light too, but rather than being woolly in a negative way it actually makes coaxing the car through tight spots in villages easier than expected.
Considering its close relation to the Jeep Avenger, there are more familiar features when it comes to the interior tech. Most of this can be found in the landscape oriented, 10.25in infotainment system, which has very effective uConnect navigation. Meanwhile, the slightly posher LaPrima edition offers the benefit of adaptive cruise control and blind spot warning too.
Anyone preferring familiarity will also be reassured to hear both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on offer if you wish to plug your smartphone in and enjoy your own more personalised arrangements.
A 7in digital cluster complements that central screen quite nicely, while the cockpit is peppered with USB Type A and C ports to ensure harmony if you’re travelling with other members of the family in the car.
Fiat 600e verdict
The Fiat 600e is a family-friendly EV that’s keenly priced compared to notable rivals like Hyundai’s Kona Electric or Kia’s very good Niro EV. As long as you’re not too concerned with balls-out performance (because the Fiat 600e feels quite sedate compared to rivals) it’s a durable and chunky thing. There’s space enough for kids and stuff, the surfaces feel like they can be easily wiped over and while the synthetic leather is a bit sweaty on hotter days, the interior’s very pleasing.
From the outside the Fiat 600e has minor league personality appeal too. The design has been nicely executed and there are plenty of practical features that boost the appeal for families. With its decent range and sufficient levels of tech, the Fiat 600e therefore makes an ideal first EV for anyone making the transition from petrol cars.
A success on most fronts, but the Fiat 600 is doing battle with strong competition
Fiat 600e technical specifications
|Powertrain||115kW electric motor, front-wheel drive|
|Cargo volume||360 litres|