The Fiat 600e: A Non-Binary Supermini-Crossover

The Fiat 600e is a unique car that defies categorization. It can be considered a non-binary vehicle, straddling the line between a supermini and a small crossover. As the big sibling to the Fiat 500 electric, the 600e shares similar styling cues and dimensions, making it a successor to Fiat’s previous models like the Grande Punto and Uno. However, it also has the task of filling the crossover role, succeeding the Fiat 500X.

While the 600e is an all-electric car that is competitively priced, Fiat recognizes that not everyone is ready to switch to electric and plans to release a more affordable hybrid version half a year later. This decision reflects Fiat’s commitment to remain inclusive and cater to the 80% of consumers who still purchase cars with traditional engines.

In terms of competition, the 600e faces rival models within the Stellantis empire, such as the Vauxhall Mokka, Jeep Avenger, Peugeot 208, and Vauxhall Corsa. Other competitors include the MG 4, BYD Dolphin, and the Kia Soul. The Nissan Leaf is nearing retirement, and the Hyundai Kona electric has recently been updated, making it more expensive than the 600e.

The Fiat 600e shares design elements with the Fiat 500, including the signature lights and smiling facial expression. However, the 600e deviates from the rounded curves of the 500 and opts for a more straightforward and practical design to maximize headroom and boot space. Despite being smaller than 4.2 meters in length, the 600e offers sufficient room and a decent-sized boot.

Under the hood, the Fiat 600e is not simply a stretched version of the 500 electric. It uses a proven platform that has won Car of the Year twice, as seen in the Peugeot 208 and Jeep Avenger. This platform adds an element of reliability and sturdiness to the 600e, a feature that Fiat wants to emphasize given its reputation in the past. Additionally, the electric system in the 600e is a second-generation setup found in other Stellantis models, featuring a 156bhp motor and a 51kWh net battery.

While the Fiat 600e prioritizes comfort and quietness over sportiness, it does have some drawbacks. The steering and brakes leave something to be desired, with the light steering making it difficult to navigate bends smoothly and the brake pedal being inconsistent. However, for those seeking a rational choice in the electric car market, the 600e offers good efficiency, range, and charging times.

For those who don’t have access to charging stations or prefer to keep monthly payments low, Fiat will release a plug-less hybrid version of the 600e. This hybrid model will feature a 100bhp three-cylinder engine running on the Atkinson cycle, with an integrated starter-alternator and a 29 horsepower motor embedded in a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. As a mild hybrid, it offers decent efficiency with an estimated CO2 emissions of 110g/km.

The Fiat 600e checks all the rational boxes as a well-equipped supermini-crossover with electric power at an affordable price. It offers ample space and comfort, along with efficient performance. However, it falls short in terms of design innovation and driving pleasure compared to its competitors. Fiat may need to step up its game to truly stand out in the market.

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