The Fiat 500e is a rare sight in most parts of the U.S., and as a 'compliance car,' only offered in California and Oregon and aimed to satisfy the framework of fuel-efficiency rules, it's not a viable option for many American small-car shoppers.
That's a shame, as it ranks as one of the most fun-to-drive, money-saving, and charming all-electric cars on the market. Our editors aren't newbies to the to the 500e; we've driven it a number of times, in four or more different cars and several hundred all-electric miles. Each time, we've had a blast, with the 500e feeling like a well-engineered, predictably performing electric car that's quick and quiet—and seems to always be exceeding expectations.
And in a recent revisit with the 500e, in which we were able to drive both the Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio and the Fiat 500e, nearly back-to-back, we decided that the 500e is simply a better car.
Yes, none of the two-door Fiat 500 models are good 'only' cars for a family—or even an active couple—but for the kinds of things for which you buy a city car, the 500e is the winner.
Before you rush to judgement, take a look, point by point, at six reasons why the 500e is the better bet than the Abarth:
Above-and-beyond engineering. The 500e isn't just an electric conversion, Fiat insists. After Fiat adapted the 500 lineup for the U.S. market, it added plenty more engineering to the 500e. The suspension was retuned and adapted, the battery actually helps stiffen the body, and engineers spend an additional 400 hours in the wind tunnel to cut aerodynamic drag by a whopping 13 percent versus the gasoline versions—saving the equivalent in energy of about 5 mpg. As chief engineer Brett Giem put it, the intent from day one was to create a really great car that happens to be electric. There are painful oversights—like the lack of fast-charging in the 500e—but it fully delivers to that in most other ways.