Most of the electric vehicle (EV) talk now is about charging and range, and yes, it’s good to have fast charging rates and a long range. But the reality is that even though they’re currently tax-free in Malaysia, EVs aren’t cheap and many are being bought as toys – I doubt that there are many EV users who don’t have more than one ICE car at home.

Speaking of home, surely most EV users have landed properties with home charging, which allows the EV to slowly replenish overnight, making a shorter range more acceptable. Longer journeys can be done with the ICE fleet, leaving the EV for running around town. Which makes me curious – why aren’t more EVs bought purely for “fun”, as opposed to their technical capabilities? This applies to other classes of toys. What do you think?

Small and stylish, the Fiat 500 has to be the perfect city car, which makes it – in my view – the perfect base for an urban EV. That’s what Fiat did, although the “New 500” (that’s the official name) isn’t quite the familiar 500 with its ICE swapped for a motor and batteries.

The New 500 a.k.a. 500 Electric was designed from the ground up to be an EV, and is built separately from the regular 500 – in Turin, Italy vs Poland for the ICE, which this EV does not replace. Revealed in 2020, the New 500 is 60 mm longer and wider than the ICE 500, and its wheelbase is 20 mm longer.

Between the wheels is a 42 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that’s good for 320 km of range on the WLTP cycle. That’s not bad for a tiny car, and it beats fellow style icon-turned-EV MINI Cooper SE comfortably. The electric MINI comes with a 28.9 kWh battery and 232 km of WLTP range. It also trumps the Honda e‘s 220 km claimed range. Fiat says that the New 500 does up to 460 km in a pure urban cycle (WLTP is combined).

As for charging, the 42 kWh battery supports DC fast charging up to 85 kW – Fiat says that topping up to 80% SOC takes 35 minutes, and just five minutes of fast charging will net you a day’s worth of driving (50 km). For regular AC charging (CCS2 socket), a 3 kW cable is provided, while a three-phase 11 kW cable is optional, as is a wallbox.

As for performance, the New 500’s 118 hp (87 kW) single electric motor pushes the little Fiat from 0-100 km/h in nine seconds, while top speed is 150 km/h. More important for a city car, 0-50 km/h takes just 3.1 seconds, thanks to instant torque. There’s also a single-pedal driving mode.

The red and black regular hatchbacks (not the 3+1) you see here are (RED) edition cars. Like (RED) iPhones, this partnership helps fights health emergencies like AIDS and more recently, Covid-19. Each purchase of a (RED) car triggers a donation to the global fund.

Special exterior details include a 500 (RED) logo on the windowline and red-painted details (front and rear logos, mirror caps, can be seen clearly on the black car). Both these units also come with the optional 16-inch wheels with red logos on the hubcaps.

Inside the (RED) cars, you’ll find the 500 (RED) logo printed on the black fabric seats, which also have a Fiat monogram. The logos and piping are in contrasting red, which matches the red dashboard. Other red bits can be found on the steering wheel 500 logo, key fob and floor mats. The seats are partly made of Seaqual Marine Plastic, a raw material made from marine litter.

There’s more. The air cabin filter, seat fabric, steering wheel leather and trunk carpet have been treated with a biocide substance with highly effective action against bacteria, viruses and fungi. RED cars have the option of a “sanitising glove box” with a UV-C lamp, but this feature was not specified on these units.

By the way, to activate that feature, you place in your small items (phone, keys, etc) in the glove box and press a centre console button. The “hygienisation cycle” will take three minutes and a blue indicator and chime will inform you when it’s done. Clearly a car born in the days of Covid.

If you want to be unique, might as well go all the way? The white car that completes the trio is a Cabriolet with a sliding blue fabric top and shortened boot lid. This isn’t a (RED) car like the hardtop hatchbacks, but a high-spec Icon model, which comes with goodies such as 16-inch multi-spoke alloys, electric door handle with e-latch, body-colour dashboard, 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment and melange pinstripe fabric seats. However, the three cars here are not fitted with LED headlamps.

Fascinated by this little slice of la dolce vita? These three units of the electric Fiat 500 were brought in by Hamza Motors, located in Kampung Sungai Penchala, just next to TTDI. The two (RED) hatchbacks are going for RM250k while the Cabrio is yours for an extra RM5,000.

Not cheap, of course, but Italian fashion goods aren’t known for maximum bang for buck (find the pic of the inside door handle in the gallery below, and look at what’s inside). There’s a price to pay for exclusivity, and this piece of design is iconic – Fiat effortlessly transformed the 500 from ICE to electric without compromising its style. The EV specs are actually very decent too when compared to design-first peers such as the MINI Cooper SE and Honda e. Parallel importers are hawking the latter for above RM200k as well.

Which cute electric hatchback would you rather have? The one from Italy, England or Japan? Click on the links above to check them out and decide.

GALLERY: Fiat New 500 (RED) Edition

GALLERY: Fiat New 500 Cabrio