2013 Fiat 500e

111 horsepower electric motor

Grigio silver paint

Unique front bumper

147 pound-feet of torque

Front-wheel drive

Handling

No drag racer

Aerodynamic wheels

Rear proximity sensors

Rear storage

Charging port

Power cable

The cabin

No tailpipe

Interior

Dashboard

ePRND

Alpine premium audio

Climate controls

Blue&Me

Digital instruments

Trip computer

In charge of charging

Navigation by TomTom

Blue&Me integration

Power flow display

Now playing

Browsing audio

At a casual glance, there's not much special to note about this Fiat 500.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
Pop the hood, however and you'll find that it's powered not by an internal combustion engine, but by an electric motor.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
Most photos of the 500e show the hatchback in its bright orange paint with white trim. Ours was a bit more subdued.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The 500e's front bumper is unique to the EV. It can be more aerodynamic thanks to the reduced need for cooling.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The electric torque sent to the front wheels is immediate and responsive. Around town performance is zippy.
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Power from the engine flows through a single-speed transmission to the front wheels.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The 500e's handling isn't much different from the gasoline 500, but the acceleration is much more immediate.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
But before you go drag racing Abarth 500s, know that the electric motor runs out of steam at around 45 mph, resulting in less than impressive 0-60 runs.
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The electric variant rolls on special aluminum wheels with a design that reduces turbulence and drag.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
Fiat's materials state that a rearview camera is available, but ours was not so-equipped. Instead, we made due with proximity sensors.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The 500e's 24 kWh battery is below the rear storage area. Like the standard 500, the 500e features a surprising amount of interior space for a vehicle so small.
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A full charge on a standard 110V wall outlet can take up to 8 hours. Using a 220V level 2 charger drops that time to about 5 hours.
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The 500e comes with its own charging cable and a 12-volt air compressor and patch kit.
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The cabin features leather seats with orange contrast striping and stitching.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The 500e has zero tailpipe emissions, well, because there's no pipe to be found.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
Like the exterior, the 500e's cabin is simple, understated, and not very different from the standard gasoline version.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
The steering wheel features orange contrasting interior panels that hint at the 500e's electric designation.
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There is no shift lever. The driver controls the 500e's single-speed transmission with a bank of buttons. There are also no special 'eco' or 'power' driving modes.
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This car stereo wouldn't look out of place in a vehicle from the turn of the century, but it packs a fairly modern array of audio sources. It also sounds pretty good for a six-speaker setup.
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Climate controls are simple and thermostat controlled. Heated front seats are standard.
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The steering wheel has simple controls for the cruise control system. It also allows the driver to activate the Blue&Me voice command system to initiate a hands-free call or select an audio source.
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The instrument cluster is fully digital with a circular bezel. To the right is the battery level and to the left is an efficiency meter. Up top is the digital speedometer and below is the estimated driving range.
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The digital instrument cluster's trip computer can display a wide range of efficiency data at the end of each trip. However, it can be difficult to make heads or tails of what these numbers mean. We just tried to keep the MPGe as high as possible.
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At the touch of a button, the instrument cluster can also give the driver control over the 500e's charging behavior and scheduling.
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Rather than stick a big touchscreen in the dashboard, Fiat sticks a small touchscreen on the dashboard. This TomTom handles navigation duty for the 500e.
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The TomTom is able to communicate with the 500e's Blue&Me system via Bluetooth. Note the large Car Menu icon.
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Via that Bluetooth connection, the TomTom is able to display real-time efficiency and energy usage data.
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The TomTom can also display metadata for the currently playing song. There's more information here than the single-line dashboard display can show.
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Normally, the Blue&Me system doesn't have a way for drivers to visually navigate the media stored on a connected iPod or USB device. The TomTom is able to fill in that role.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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