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Fiat 500: long-term test review


500 continues to impress; it’s easy to drive, while a lot of clear thought has gone into its overall design. The charging issues we experienced can’t be blamed on the car, but the problem is exacerbated as the 500 struggles to match urban efficiency when traveling at highway speeds.

  • Mileage: 3,191 miles
  • Effective: 3.9 miles/kWh

I’ve been fortunate enough to try out a large number of electric cars currently available to motorists in the UK, but I’ve never had the chance to run one on a daily basis until now. As our news editor James Brodie gets a well-deserved break, I’m happy to give him the keys. Fiat 500 longer for a few weeks. And I got the little Italian city car up and running, its first mission being a 150-mile trip to the West Country.

The 500 It didn’t take long to impress me. Smooth infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay Functionality is a highlight, plus driving is easy in urban areas, thanks to the smooth electric powertrain, light steering and efficient regenerative braking.

However, as I continued onto the highway and accelerated to 70 mph, the speed at the hemorrhagic 500 km range was a bit alarming. The specified 165 miles I started – 199 miles lower WLTP range – has dropped to nearly 140 miles, and has dropped even further. I realized it would be necessary to top up sooner than I expected, so I booked the course for an Instavolt fast charger in a service area. However, when I arrived, I found another car plugged in. With no other equipment left, I decided to look elsewhere.

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Off the highway and further along my route, I arrive at a GeniePoint fast charger. However, I did about six times to get it to work and each time was greeted with a ‘CCS error’ message with a request to contact GeniePoint maintenance staff.

I called the company helpline, and after a few minutes of waiting, I heard an all-too-familiar message about an unusually high number of calls. At that point, I gave up and once again climbed behind the wheel to head to the next fast charger along my route.

This time, it was a Swarco E.Connect unit in a pub parking lot, with a message proudly boasting that it had been installed under contract from National Highways. This doesn’t change the fact that, again, every single attempt by me to get the device to actually charge 500 has resulted in nothing.

Thankfully, I was able to reach the customer care agent by phone, who was very friendly and ready to help, rebooting the charger remotely twice. Even this was ineffective, frustrating, and the agent apologized, explaining that an engineer would have to be dispatched.

I don’t have much range left at this point, and there aren’t many other fast chargers around. As a result, I decided to take a gamble and booked my sat-nav for a retail park 17 miles away that claimed to have three fast chargers, knowing full well that if none worked, I will call my bankrupt company. .

I got to my first charger – a BP Pulse – with a 10-mile range to spare, and thankfully it started charging the car on my first try. I had 80% battery life after 45 minutes and managed to reach my destination on the Somerset/Devon border – although to preserve range I did set the cruise control to 55mph for multiple 70mph dual-tracks.

On the various journeys I’ve taken on Fiat, including returning to London via Dorset, I’ve charged on a domestic tripod and used a couple of other fast chargers – a Shell Recharger and another set of GeniePoint – both work perfectly. I also managed to charge to 100% at a 7kW Class 2 London Source, which took about seven hours and 30 minutes.

However, despite the fees I’ve managed, the success rate of three out of five for the public units I’ve plugged in isn’t ideal. And for the 500, which is a great car in many ways, not liking traveling at highway speeds is a serious shortcoming.

Paradigm: Fiat 500 Passion 87kW
On the fleet since: September 21
New price: £26,995 (after Government grant)
Engine: Single 116bhp electric motor, 42kWh . battery
CO2 / tax: 0g/km/£0
Option: Metallic grey, paint (£1,000), 16-inch, alloy (£350), wireless charging (£150), 10.25-inch touchscreen w. nav (£500)
Insurrance*: Group: 16D Quote: £446
Mileage: 3,191 miles
Effective: 3.9 miles/kWh
Any problems? Far-out

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