Gone are the days of FIAT 500s driving off cliffs and surfacing in America. In fact, you won’t even find a 2020 FIAT 500 for sale within the continental United States. Although the company has announced the newest model for 2021 in Europe, the future of FIAT 500s coming back across the pond is as uncertain. Call it a combination of business decisions and a global health crisis wreaking havoc on the auto industry.
While you’re killing some time at home, it’s worth checking out the U.K. edition of the 2021 FIAT 500. We’ve got the details for you below, complete with engine specs, fuel efficiency numbers, and expert reviews on what’s good and bad about this spritely cruise-around-town machine.
In light of strict emissions standards across the pond, the U.K.-only (for now, at least) FIAT 500 is actually driven solely via electric power. The 500e, as we knew it in North America, now morphs with the 500 nameplate. Essentially, they are one and the same now.
A battery pack amounting to 42 kWh propels the FIAT 500 across nearly 200 miles of range. With the equivalent of 117 horsepower, the 500 should charge to 80 percent power in just 35 minutes. In true green car fashion, storage bins have replaced the central gear shift area. The old-fashioned gas-powered gauges are now fully digital.
The most interesting feature of the newest FIAT 500 is the pedal. That’s right, a singular pedal. Like the 500 and 500e models, the gas and brake pedal have melded. As FIAT explains it:
“When the driver lift their foot from the accelerator pedal the car will slow down, converting and recovering kinetic energy to generate electric power helping recharge the battery.”
Students of even a few driver’s training sessions know that you can lift your foot to slow the car down. However, adding regenerative braking to an already technologically advanced vehicle just goes to show you where the industry is headed next. Regardless of the leap forward, the singular pedal might take some getting used to.
FIAT offers the following colors on the 2021 500. Sadly, there’s only a few choices.
- Ocean green
- Celestial Blue
- Mineral Grey
Trims and Pricing
The color options might be limited, but at least there’s a topless choice. The 2021 FIAT 500 is offered in both convertible and coupe versions. The 2021 model has officially been dubbed “la Prima,” meaning “the first.” It’s the only trim available for the 2021 year. Although its destiny on American shores still remains shrouded in doubt, it will cost buyers the equivalent of $42,000.
Debuting as a convertible only, the latest 500 gains a few inches length- and width-wise. However, it keeps many of the same features we all have come to love about the model. The iconic headlights are LED and the lines remain true to preceding models. Many minor details have been re-arranged to update the entire look of the FIAT 500 though, both inside and out.
The model rides on 17-inch wheels. Then there’s the eco-leather upholstery that lies at the center of the interior, where a seven-inch display and a 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen bring the driver and passenger modern technology at the touch of a button. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are expected to be standard equipment.
The la Prima 500 also offers drivers three different modes: Normal, Range, and Sherpa. While the first two are largely self-explanatory, the Sherpa setting “is named after the Sherpa people of Nepal and the Himalayas, and its purpose is to maximize the car’s efficiency by cutting back the top speed to 80 km/h, deactivate the air conditioning and heated seats, soften the throttle response, and so forth.” If you’re looking for a breezy Sunday jaunt you won’t have to feel guilty about, we suggest giving Sherpa mode a try.
FIAT is also offering three special edition 2021 FIAT 500s. One from Giorgio Armani, another from Bylgari, and the last from Kartell. Armani brings a level of haute couture to the Italian micro machine, using laser technology and a flair for innovation to raise the 500 well above standard.
Dubbed “MAI TROPPO,” the 500 by Bylgari is “a true gem in its own right.” The exterior sunburnt orange may not look new at first glance. However, take a second look at the imaginative dash accent piece and you’ll likely find driving this version akin to motorizing a fine art gallery.
Finally, Kartell injects a bit of the Blue Man Group into the 500. It rounds out the electric blue exterior hues with a number of gray-toned shades inside the cabin. Futuristic in a modern way, this Kartell-designed FIAT 500 is sure to turn heads with iconic side mirror caps and a glowing cobalt aura.
Since the 2021 FIAT 500 only comes in one trim, it will be fitted with a handful of driving aids. Highlights include blind-spot warning, driver attention assist, adaptive cruise control, sign-reading speed limit assist, and lane centering. Suffice to say the la Prima model will include all the safety features you’d expect to find on a brand-new vehicle — in Europe, of course. It’s hard to predict whether a North American version would feature the same standard safety features. We can hope, though.
As you might imagine with a fully electric powertrain, the 2021 FIAT 500 bypasses EPA regulations like a TSA PreCheck. As Electrek.co summarizes, “small electric cars like the FIAT 500e might be the only segment that Tesla is ceding to the competition.” While regulations are a different story in Europe, the FIAT 500 should have no major problems meeting American fuel efficiency standards. That is, if we ever see the cute Italian car on American soil again.
Only 500 copies of the 2021 FIAT 500 will be available, many of which are probably already spoken for. These la Prima models will be stamped as “1 of 500” and geographically tied to the country in which they were purchased. Though there aren’t any models set aside for Americans, FIAT does compete with many global brands to gain ground in the compact and electric automotive spheres.
Along with the Model 3, the FIAT 500 will be joining the BMW i3, MINI Cooper SE, the Chevrolet Bolt, and the Honda E (also not bound for U.S. shores) to make up the current compact electric car segment. There’s not a lot of competition. At least not compared to the SUV and crossover big leagues. However, with more focus paid to versatility than anything else these days, compact cars — even electric ones — may be forced to join the VW Beetle in the museum garages of automotive history.
The Last Word
The first FIAT came to the United States in 2011. This year, the only FIAT you’ll see at dealerships are the 500X, the 500L, and the 124 Spider. With the enormous incentives currently available from many dealerships, perhaps it’s the perfect opportunity to get in the little around-town car you always wanted. Speak with representatives at your local FIAT dealership today and see what kind of numbers they come up with. A FIAT might just find itself a new home in your garage.