The Fiat 500 has gone hybrid. Yep, one of the smallest, thriftiest cars on sale as standard is now even cleaner. But unlike Renault’s bafflingly clever new Clio hybrid, this is a simpler affair.
Also available on the Panda, it’s a mild hybrid system. So it’s not a car you’ll ever need to plug into the mains, and nor will you be completing long distances on electric power only. What we essentially have is a battery-operated generator that’s strapped to a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, one which helps smooth out the stop/start process and allows the car to accrue energy when decelerating and braking.
It also means the engine can coast under low throttle load. All told, Fiat’s promising CO2 emissions up to 30 per cent lower than the engine this new mild hybrid replaces. A 6spd manual is your only gearbox option, highlighting just how normal to drive this whole thing will be. Proper hybrids are nigh on always automatic.
Adding a bit of electricity has boosted the base 500 and Panda by one entire horsepower – they now possess a dizzying 69bhp – so you won’t be buying this for any extra performance. And it’s a stark reminder of how later to the electrification game the Fiat group has been. But everyone’s got to start somewhere, and a fully electric, all-new 500 will follow. Excited?
STORY Stephen Dobie