(MENAFN - Jordan Times) A car that has seemingly taken Jordanian roads by storm on a somewhat small scale, the now common electric-powered Fiat 500e's popularity stands in contrast with regular petrol Fiat 500 derivatives.With limited local take up of the broader 500 range since the Italian carmaker's defining retro heavy model was first introduced in 2007, enthusiasm for the 500e's seems to largely stem from substantial electric vehicle (EV) duty exemptions and, as of more recently, reduced levies compared with petrol cars.
A perfect case of how the Jordanian market differs from other regional markets and how car companies can miss out small but significant opportunities when approaching the Middle East as a homogenous GCC-oriented entity rather than a collection of more locally nuanced markets, the Fiat 500e, like other similar cars, is officially unavailable for sale in the Middle East. Instead, demand for the 500e has been met by independent auto traders importing used and new examples from the US market.On sale in the US since 2013, Fiat's diminutive 3-door city hatchback is almost identical and charming in EV 500e guise as petrol versions, with the same high urban manoeuvrability and somewhat limited practicality compared with conventional-looking competitors like its own Fiat Panda sister. With few tell-tale distinguishing signs, the stylish 500e, however, stands out for its rounded, bug-eyed, big footprint and narrow upright retro-infused charisma harking back to Fiat's iconic original post-war people's car, rather than laboured, unconvincing and complicated attempts at aesthetically singling it out as an EV.
Driving the front wheels through a front-mounted electric motor and single-speed gearbox in place of regular models' transverse combustion engines, the Fiat 500e is, however, significantly heavier at 1,355kg owing to its 364V, 24kWH batteries positioned underneath the cabin.Producing 111BHP and 147lb/ft torque with an almost immediately accessible and responsive jolt from standstill, the 500e is capable of 0-100km/h in around 9.5-seconds. Top speed is meanwhile limited to 141km/h — presumably somewhat due to weight and its single ratio gearing, but regardless, it overtakes responsively when cruising.
With near instant access to it generously torque-biased output the 500e launches confidently with a little torque steer, and chirp from its relatively slim tyres. Seamlessly smooth in delivery and with healthy mid-range versatility, the 500e does its best work at lower and more moderate speeds.Like most EVs, the 500e is at its most energy efficient in the city, where it returns 160km single charge range in ideal conditions, which drops to 139km on the combined cycle, with a fuel efficiency equivalency of 2l/100km.
Stylish city car
More efficient in town than on highway as most EVs are, the 500e's range is further reduced at speed and under heavy acceleration input. Meanwhile charging times vary from lengthy 24-hours for basic 120V home charging to four hours with a high capacity 240V charger.That given, combined with its fundamental small and tall city car design, the 500e is particularly well suited as a mostly urban commuter car with good efficiency, adequate range and easy manoeuvrability from home to work, where battery charge can be topped up.
A nippy and agile city car well able to zip through narrow and confined conditions, the 500e's forte is not to be found in long distance touring, owing mainly to its range and re-charge time restrictions, despite it being adequately stable reassuring at speed.And while a little busy in its ride quality over imperfect surface, the 500e's somewhat altered weighting for EV service lends it a more planted ride quality, in addition to perhaps a slightly more increased instinct for understeer if pushed too hard on turn-in.
Perched high and grounded low
That said, the 500e is otherwise tidy and responsive on turn-in, and with direct steering and adequate road feel from its 185/55R15 tyres, is easily maneuvered through narrow winding lane and tight parking garages alike. Nimble and agile, but stable through corners owing to its tiny 2,300mm wheelbase and relatively big footprint, it leans slightly through corners. But with much of the added weight situated in the under-cabin battery packs, the low centre of gravity seems to counteract its tall and narrow roofline.Driving with a slightly more grounded feel than regular petrol versions but the same high perched driving position, the 500e provides terrific driving visibility for manoeuvring. With commanding road view and good front headroom and narrow cabin, driving controls also fall easily to hand.
Stylishly retro inside, the 500e's cabin accommodates four people, but with rear leg and head room at a premium, and 199L regular boot space, a compromise between passenger capacity and comfort and extended folded rear seat luggage volume sometimes has to be made.TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
Engine: Permanent magnetic electric traction, front-mounted electric motorBattery, voltage/capacity: Lithium-ion, 364V/24kWh
Gearbox: 1-speed automatic, front-wheel-driveFinal drive: 9.59:1
Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 111 (112) Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 147 (200)
0-100km/h: approximately 9.5-secondsTop speed: 141km/h
Range, city/combined: 160/139km*Fuel consumption equivalency, combined: 2-litres/100km*
Charging time, at 120V/240V: 24-/4-hoursLength: 3,617mm
Width: 1,627mmHeight: 1,527mm
Wheelbase: 2,300mmTrack, F/R: 1,407/1,397mm
Ground clearance: 115mmAerodynamic drag co-efficiency: 0.311
Headroom, F/R: 989/903mmLegroom, F/R: 1,035/702mm
Shoulder room, F/R: 1,255/1,179mmHip room, F/R: 1,215/1,083mm
Seating capacity: 4Luggage volume: 199-litres
Kerb weight: 1,355kgWeight distribution, F/R: 57/43 per cent
Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinionLock-to-lock: 3-turns
Steering ratio: 16.3:1Turning Circle: 9.54-metres
Suspension: MacPherson struts/twist beamBrakes, F/R: Ventilated discs, 284 x 22mm/251 x 11mm
Tyres: 185/55R15*US Environmental Protection Agency figures
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