The Fiat 500’s long-time-coming update was supposed to be exposed to the world at the Geneva Motor Show, but since a certain virus was exposed to the world instead, the Geneva show was cancelled. The new 500 design wasn’t going to be held back by some stupid lipid-coated virus, at least unofficially, as the new design was leaked, at least the 500e all-electric version.
The Italian website Il Sole 24 Ore seems to have been the first with the images, and while their page is currently removed, those images all over the internet by now.
The images show a deep metallic grey 500e Cabrio, the battery-powered electric car that, unlike the previous compliance-car version of the 500e, is expected to have its own EV platform that’s not just a modification of the ICE version of the car.
There is still a combustion version planned, though it’s likely to remain on the current platform, albeit with the styling updates we see here on the new 500e. This suggests the happily diminutive size of the 500 is likely to remain about the same.
In the U.S. it doesn’t appear we’ll be getting the combustion 500 back, but the electric version may make it back to the states; there’s been no official announcement either way just yet.
The updated 500 design looks quite good, I think. It’s still very much a retro design based on designer Dante Giacosa’s original, but it feels modern and doesn’t descend into cloying.
While the face may be a bit less eager and friendly than the previous version, it’s still not the livid arsehole face so many cars have adopted, so that’s a relief.
The headlights are still round, but now the hoodline bisects the lamps horizontally, and the upper section of the ovoid lamp is just a thin outline, which will likely form part of the DRLs or possibly act as the turn indicator. The foglamp has a similar outline-only design, which we’ve seen on the taillights of the Euro-spec current 500s.
The overall face is a bit shorter than before as well, looking a bit more determined, let’s say.
Fiat has done a lot with that hoodline, which extends out into a character line that goes all the way across the side of the car, incorporating the side indicator repeater and forming the top edge of the door handle. It looks crisp and smart, and I always like cars that can turn panel lines into design motifs elegantly.
The windows appear enlarged a bit, too, and the C-pillar is narrower, making an airier greenhouse.
The interior has taken a jog upmarket, at least in the EV version, maintaining the round instrument cluster but adding a larger central display. The inset dashboard material looks interesting, though I can’t really tell in these images if it’s wood or brushed metal, textured plastic, or gila monster skin, but whatever it is, it looks nice and fancy.
The seats have a stitched old-school FIAT logo pattern on them, which is pretty cool. The cabrio’s top seems to have a similar pattern as well.
Overall, it’s a good redesign, modernising and cleaning up the now 13 year old design (holy crap) while maintaining the look and feel of the original design, which also used the hood shut line as an anchor for the side character line, among other details.
Specs on the new 500e aren’t known, but it’s expected to have a similar range to other new EV city cars like the Honda E or the Renault Twingo electric, which means about 120 to 150 miles (193 – 240 kilometres) of range at best, I’d guess.
That’s below the current expected standard of 200 miles (320 kilometres) of American market EVs, but is likely fine for the city car use that’s expected of this class.
I guess we’ll see official pictures soon enough, assuming we’re not all sick with Coronavirus by then.