EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 16, 2014

Fiat 500e surprisingly close to perfect

I thought it might be a good time to provide feedback at 5,000 miles on my electric car experiment. In October I leased an all-electric Fiat 500e, as the cost of the lease was less than I was spending each month on gasoline to drive my conventional vehicle.

The Fiat’s battery range of 80-90 miles presents an occasional concern, but actually gets it done for about 90 percent of my daily needs. There have been a few times I’ve arrived home after work and there wasn’t enough time to charge the car sufficiently to head back out for an extended evening adventure. Or while I could easily make the 50-mile trip to San Francisco, I couldn’t be assured I could find convenient or available charging there so I could make the trip home. Availability of electric vehicle plug-in locations is still quite spotty.

I love this little car. It’s a blast to drive, with very peppy acceleration and crisp handling paid for with a choppy, firm ride. And it’s surprisingly roomy inside. My wife and I are continually amazed at how many groceries or home-improvement items you can cram into the rear with the useless back seat folded down. An illuminated “hatch ajar” light is frequent source of amusement, telling us we have truly filled it. I’ve only forgotten to plug the car in once, requiring me to drive the oil-burner SUV the following day. My 5,000 mile average is 136 mpg-e, almost 10 times the efficiency of our oil-burner.

The blending of slingshot acceleration, deceleration energy regeneration, and brakes is done magnificently — it appears to be 100 percent regeneration until you drop below 8 mph. During firm braking at speed, it’s amazing to see it packing up to 75,000 watts of juice back into the batteries. Everything about this car is flawless, except for one silly, one annoying and one truly awful feature.

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