Published on October 23rd, 2020 | by Subhash Nair0
Fiat 500 3+1 Takes Inspiration from MX-30 and Veloster
Over the years, car brands have attempted to excite the youth market by offering marrying the practicality of rear doors with the cool factor of a coupé. In the 1990s, various JDM ‘hardtop’ sedans were spawned featuring frameless windows. Then Mazda took a stab at giving a sports coupé four doors with the RX-8, which featured suicide doors at the rear. They’ve brought this design back in the MX-30 crossover.
THEN in the early 2010s, Hyundai put 2 doors on the passenger side and 1 door on the drivers’ side in the Veloster. Now, Fiat is attempting to combine these concepts in their new 500 3+1.
Just like the Veloster, the Fiat 500 3+1 will feature 2 doors on the passenger side and 1 door on the drivers’ side. And just like the MX-30 and RX-8, the small rear passenger door is hinged at the rear. This design kind of makes sense. You still get the cool coupé proportions, but a larger aperture for people in the rear to get in and out of. And since the passenger side is where the curb usually is, it makes sense that the extra mini door is on that side.
That being said it really is quite a tiny door. Perhaps just making larger doors would have been less complicated and more inexpensive, but Fiat wanted to communicate something funky about this new 500. Regardless, these sorts of cars usually aren’t huge volume sellers. They try to appeal to both image-conscious and practical-minded people and end up alienating both crowds. But let’s see how Fiat does with this new 500 3+1 in terms of sales.
Here’s the press release with more information if you’re interested.
The New 500 has filled all of Fiat with its positivity, bringing with it an energy and creativity unparalleled since 1957 and 2007. This has enabled Fiat designers and engineers to look to the future without letting a single opportunity pass them by, at the same time maintaining continuity with the current success of the 500.
From that point, it came naturally to design a car with more ‘bodies’, such as the cabrio and hatchback versions, but that wasn’t all. To accompany the evolution of the 500 customer base, we needed to go further, to respond to the developments in the requirements of customers who have grown and whose habits have changed. The young person who darted onto the city streets aboard their 500 after a day’s work, is now a ‘working mom or dad’, struggling to get their one or more children to school in the morning before heading to work, then to their dance class or foreign language lessons in the afternoon, all the while keeping their own personal commitments going. That customer has therefore become a family that needs the interiors to be more accessible, but still ‘cool’ as only the 500 can be by nature. That’s where the New 500 3+1 comes in. All new, all electric and with one extra door. But still a 500.
The Centro Stile designers have been working on a smart solution with identical dimensions to the cabrio and hatchback versions, but with a small third door on the passenger side. Just like the first 500 in 1957, which featured doors hinged to the rear: a return to the model’s roots in a fruitful dialog between past and future. The result is a new body, to add to the hatchback and cabrio, with unchanged dimensions and not a single centimeter added to the footprint.
The third ‘small door’ opens in the opposite direction, and given the lack of a center panel in the door itself, means you can jump in more comfortably, load and unload large items more easily and put your child on the back seat or booster seat in a quicker and more straightforward way. Once you’ve closed the small door, there’s no difference from any other 500: the same style, the same size. All this with a weight increase of only 30 kg, with no effect on the car’s handling or fuel consumption.
In terms of safety, it’s worth noting that the ‘small third door’ can only be opened with the front door already open, to ensure the rear passengers can’t open it by accident.
With the “3+1”, the 500 aims to remain alongside customers who have changed their habits and requirements, but not their taste. For customers who do not want to relinquish the beauty and allure the 500 brings with it, the New Fiat 500 3+1 is the answer. Thanks to the smart solution of the third door, everyone can take all their passions with them without compromising on style, while benefiting from the functionality the New 500 3+1 can offer.
Launch edition: New 500 3+1 “la Prima”
Just like the cabrio and hatchback, the New 500 3+1 is being presented at launch in the “la Prima” Opening Edition, distinguished by its style, exclusivity, technology and connectivity.
Style. It is clearly a 500, and as such it can’t but embody style and attention to detail. Three colors are available at launch:
- Rose Gold
- Glacier Blue
- Onyx Black
Exclusivity. The New Fiat 500 3+1 “la Prima” is marked out by a range of exclusive details: full LED headlights with an ‘Infinity design”, two-tone 17″ diamond-cut wheel rims and chrome-plated inserts on the windows and side panels. Seats, dashboard and steering wheel in eco-leather, Fiat monogram on the seats, two-tone steering wheel and exclusive “la Prima” tag on the console. When it comes to comfort: six-way adjustable front seats, mats, electrochrome internal rearview mirror and 360° ‘drone view’ parking sensors.
Technology. “la Prima” is equipped with the most advanced ADAS systems available:
- Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (iACC) and Lane Centering
- Traffic Sign Recognition
- Autonomous Emergency Brake with pedestrian and cyclist recognition
- Intelligent Speed Assistant
- Lane Control
- High-resolution rear camera with dynamic grid
- 360° parking and urban blind spot sensors
- Automatic twilight and dazzle sensors
- Emergency call
- Electronic parking brake
It also features automatic air conditioning, a wearable pebble key, 85 kW fast charging and an 11 kW Mode 3 cable for charging at home or in public, all as standard. Even better, it comes with level 2 autonomous driving, for the first time in a city car.
Connectivity. The new UConnect 5 infotainment system: 7″ TFT Display, 10.25″ Touch Screen NAV, DAB Radio, Wireless CarPlay / Android Auto, Uconnect Box (a telematic box enabling the connected services) and a wireless smartphone charger.
As well as in the opening edition, 3+1 trim will also be available on the PASSION and ICON versions.
The New 500 line-up: ACTION, PASSION and ICON, ready to revolutionize electric mobility
Simple, complete and packed with content. That’s the New 500 line-up. Three levels of customization (Entry-Level, Mid-Range and High-End), named ACTION, PASSION and ICON respectively, each with a specific product mission, featuring the very best in technology, connectivity and safety. So much innovative content, unique in the city car segment.
And as electric mobility the 500 way is within everyone’s reach, the entire line-up is compatible with new drivers’ requirements: the Fiat New 500 is therefore the car to embark on the path of change, together.
New 500 ACTION: the democratization of electric mobility
The Entry-Level New 500 is the ideal electric city car, aimed at those who live life in the city, town centers and ZTL restricted traffic zones to the full, at those who drive an average of 50 km per day and favor dynamic and cost-conscious mobility.
The 500 ACTION is fitted with a 70-kW e-motor, with 0100 km/h acceleration in 9.5 seconds and its speed self-limited to 135 km/h.
The New 500 ACTION is aimed at young customers with a hectic lifestyle and a daily routine made up of short journeys, who require an environmentally responsible car. They therefore need range for driving in the city and optimum safety, achieved with all the ADAS on board.
The ACTION is the perfect car for millennials who are fans of alternative mobility such as car-sharing.
The New 500 ACTION includes a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 23.8 kWh, resulting in range of more than 180 km in the WLTP cycle, or over 240 km when only driving in the city. If we calculate that on average, daily use comes in under 50 km, that means customers would need to charge their New 500 every few days.
A major concern for customers looking at switching to electric cars is charging time, so the New 500 ACTION is equipped with the 50-kW fast charging system, to charge the car’s battery very quickly. For example, all you need to build up a sufficient energy reserve for daily mileage requirements (around 50 km) is less than 10 minutes, about the same time it takes to have breakfast in a café. The fast charging system also offers the option of charging the car overnight in your garage at home, using the included Mode 2 (3 kW) cable, or during the day while you’re at work. The ‘Combo 2’ socket located on the rear right side panel of the car powers fast charging, in both AC and DC. For charging at home or in public, customers can also buy a three-phase 11 kW Mode 3 cable or a Wallbox by Mopar.
Designed for a young audience, the New 500 ACTION includes all the ADAS you could need for driving in the city as standard, such as ‘Drowsy Driver Detection’, to monitor driver concentration levels; ‘Autonomous Emergency Braking’, which can also recognize cyclists and pedestrians; ‘Lane Keep Assist’, a system that alerts the driver to get back in lane when it detects any drifting in trajectory; and ‘Traffic Sign Recognition’, which reads road signs and recommends the correct speed to drive at. Where connectivity is concerned, the New 500 ACTION comes with an infotainment system designed for those who always want to stay connected. We call it ‘smart audio’. It consists of a smartphone cradle, an ergonomic base to mount your smartphone both vertically and horizontally, a Bluetooth connection whereby your smartphone links up to the loudspeakers built into the New 500 and a specific app for ideal use of and interaction with the car. That’s how your smartphone becomes the fulcrum of the car’s infotainment system.
As for the exterior, the ACTION has halogen headlights and 15″ wheel rims. Inside, the technology packs the Entry-Level version with content that could until recently only be found in higher-segment cars: from the auto-start button (‘Keyless Go’) and the Electric Park Brake to the reconfigurable 7″ digital TFT color screen in front of the driver – taking the place of a conventional instrument panel in the New 500, on which the driver can see all the most important data for the car, including range and charging status. The interior trim features a black dashboard, while the seats – in Seaqual yarn – include a geometric chevron motif and silver-colored stitching.
New 500 PASSION: electric mobility goes cool
The Mid-Range version of the New 500 is dedicated to those who want to keep up with the times and those who look for sustainability and the latest technology.
The New 500 PASSION offers a benchmark range, not only for the city car segment: 320 km in the WLTP cycle, increasing to 460 km when only driven in the city. It features 85 kW fast charging, so you can recharge from a flat battery to 80% range in 35 minutes, or to 50 km – the average daily distance driven – in around 5 minutes. Cruise Control is also added to the ADAS that come as standard on the ACTION.
Fast charging, but also fast pairing: in the time it takes to jump on board, your smartphone connects to the car, in under 5 seconds. On request, charging can also go wireless, by simply placing your cellphone on the wireless charging pad in the central compartment beside the driver.
Externally, the PASSION stands out for its 15″ wheel rims styled with a two-tone gloss finish, whereas the interiors include all the services you can use from your smartphone and the new UConnect 5 infotainment system, with a 7″ screen, Wireless CarPlay / Android Auto for connected services via the Uconnect Box, the suite of UConnect Services to offer customers a simple, comfortable and wireless user experience, and a DAB radio.
There are two interior trim levels to choose from: dark with a black dashboard and seats in Seaqual yarn with chevron motif and silver-colored stitching, or a brighter environment with a white dashboard and blue seats, also including the chevron motif.
In short, a car with the best of electric technology and the most cutting-edge connectivity, but one you still drive like any other car, simple and genuine, just like a true 500. As throughout the line-up, the PASSION is equipped with an e-Mode selector to choose between three driving modes – Normal, Range and Sherpa, to select according to your preferred driving style and requirements.
The 118 hp engine has an output of 87 kW, providing a maximum speed of 150 km/h (self-limited) and acceleration from 0-100 km/h in 9.0 seconds and 0-50 km/h in 3.1 seconds.
New 500 ICON: the top of the electric mobility range
The New 500 ICON is a veritable icon of style, technology, materials and content. An all-inclusive car, in line with the history of the 500, which shows us that top-of-the-range versions, such as the 500 Riva, have always been Fiat’s best sellers.
The 500 ICON is therefore a true icon of mobility with range of up to 320 km in the WLTP cycle, increasing to 460 km in the urban cycle alone. Rapid recharging is guaranteed by the DC fast charging system, running at up to 85 kW.
Top-of-the-range in terms of its on-board technology, too: the new infotainment system in the dashboard comes with a 10.25″ ‘cinerama’ touchscreen display, with GPS and the Uconnect 5 system. With its horizontal form factor, the high-definition touchscreen fits perfectly into the car’s dashboard, having been designed according to criteria to eliminate driver distractions. UConnect 5 also boasts the Natural Language interface system with advanced voice recognition, so you can talk to the car using the wake word “Hey Fiat”, to control its range and charging settings, program the air conditioning and choose your favorite music.
Externally, the High-End version stands out for its 16″ alloy wheels with burnished finish, while the interiors of the New 500 ICON come with all the coolest content the new model can offer, all as standard. Starting off from one detail that marks it out from all the others: passive entry, not a revolution, but a feature never seen before in an A-segment city car. An even more distinctive detail is the black button-free pebble, a smart wearable key you carry in your pocket or bag, which communicates with the car and automatically unlocks the doors when you come close to the car, then locks them again with a simple tap on the door handle when you leave. A further tribute the New 500 pays to a more sustainable world, in that the pebble is made of a special biobased polycarbonate.
Elegance and exclusivity have guided the Centro Stile designers in their selection of lighter, brighter soft shades for the interior trim: the 500 ICON dashboard is ‘body color’, painted the same color as the bodywork. On request, a highly sophisticated natural wood effect upholstery is also available on the dashboard and steering wheel, made with a vegan material rather than leather. The elegant fabric seats with Seaqual yarn and pinstripe mélange motif are reminiscent of Italian haute couture. For the upholstery, you can choose between two color variants: a dark gray, with the 500 logo and copper-colored details, or a light gray version paired with blue flecks and silver 500 logo and details.
High-tech and connected
When designing the Group’s first car ‘born electric’, FCA’s engineers created a new structure around the electric motor, integrating new control, safety and entertainment technologies. The result is a car that has the best dynamic performance in its class, agile and fun to drive, comfortable, quiet and always connected. As we made it, we looked at the ease of use of a smartphone, to bring the same concept to the automotive industry. That was the starting point for the New 500’s technology ‘ecosystem’, aimed at assisting customers in the various on-board and off-board ways they use a car, and at making it easy-to-use and intuitive. The goal was to transfer to the New 500 all the home automation systems that make our life easier and more enjoyable: from a Wi-Fi hotspot to the Alexa voice service.
With the new fifth-generation UConnect 5 infotainment system – the connected platform created by FCA for the future, available with a 7″ screen in the PASSION version and 10.25″ in the ICON – you can create a custom interface on the New 500 and even use the advanced voice recognition system, activated hands-free with the wake word “Hey Fiat”. Connectivity features are enabled by the new UConnect Box, offering access to the New 500’s “UConnect Services”, one example of which transforms the car into a Wi-Fi hotspot to connect up to 8 devices at the same time. These connectivity services are usually reserved for higher segments, but for the first time Fiat makes them accessible on an A-segment car, with features developed specifically for the world of electric cars. For example, ‘Dynamic Range Mapping’, to show on the map the extent of the area you can drive to, using calculations that take into account the maximum possible distance based on remaining range and other parameters denoting the efficiency of the car. Not only does the Fiat app mean you can view the charging points located nearby, it also displays a graphic indication on the map of those you can get to with your current battery charge level. The maps are always kept up to date, over-the-air. The ‘My Car’ service lets you check battery charge level remotely, direct from the Fiat mobile app. ‘My Remote’ enables customers to check battery charge level remotely; schedule vehicle charging for the most convenient time slots; locate the nearest public charging stations and pay directly from their cellphone, providing access to a network of 200,000 charging points throughout Europe; find the car’s exact location; lock and unlock the doors; turn the lights on and off; and program the air conditioning system, all direct from their smartphone. And this is only the beginning. The digital system of the New 5oo is an open world, continuously developed and updated over-the-air, to make the 500 experience even more exclusive.
The New 500 moves up to level 2 autonomous driving
The New 500 is designed to be the ideal car for urban use. In its creation, we considered every aspect of its interaction with the city, starting with safety, i.e. 360° protection. The 500 therefore includes Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS), making it easier, safer, simpler and more fun to drive, as well as being the first car in its segment equipped with level 2 autonomous driving.
But FCA’s engineers didn’t stop there. Their aim was to humanize the technology, by implementing specific solutions tailor-made for the 500: from advanced driver-assistance features to control the car longitudinally and laterally to sensors that detect whether the driver has their hands on the steering wheel. Risk level monitoring is therefore much more accurate, meaning we could make the automatic warnings less intrusive. And there’s more: ‘Lane Centering’ keeps the New 500 in the center of the lane, whereas ‘Urban Blind Spot’ uses ultrasonic sensors to monitor blind spots and warn of any obstacles with a triangular warning light on the wing mirror. At the same time, the eleven 360° sensors provide a drone view to avoid any obstacles when parking or performing complex maneuver: almost a bird’s eye view of any obstacles in your path.
Normal, Range and Sherpa: to each their own driving style
Electrification is a historic turning point, a sea change for automobiles and mobility, but not necessarily for the way we drive. The New 500 gives you the choice: each customer can drive their own way, thanks to the inclusion of three driving modes, which can be selected to match your driving style.
In ‘Normal’ mode, the car drives like any other automatic with an internal combustion engine, if with surprisingly exceptional performance for a city car: output of 87 kW – equivalent to 118 hp, 220 Nm of torque, available instantly, and sports car acceleration from 0 to 50 km/h in 3.1 seconds, or 0 to 100 in 9 seconds.
In Range mode, the New 500 offers the option of a new driving experience, using only one foot. The ‘one-pedal’ function means you can control acceleration and deceleration by pushing the same pedal. When you let it go, the car recovers energy to the max, which makes it slow down, until it comes to a complete stop. This driving style, ideal for urban use, means the car can recover a great deal of its energy.
When remaining range is low, you can switch to ‘Sherpa’ mode, to optimize the available resources to make sure you reach your destination. When working on an electric car, the driver always needs to be able to reach a charging point, irrespective of their location. ‘Sherpa’ driving mode works on several components to reduce fuel consumption to a minimum, to make sure you can reach either the destination set on the navigation system or the nearest charging station.
The technological and social ‘ecosystem’ of the New 500
Creativity, beauty and substance alone are not enough for a paradigm shift. All of the car’s surroundings, the way everything interacts, are also important. The FCA team has therefore constructed around the New 500 project a veritable system of physical and digital services and solutions to facilitate zero-emissions driving to the greatest extent possible. This was the spirit that resulted in the creation of a network alongside the New 500, in conjunction with our outstanding partners, to enrich and simplify electric mobility, and to make it more enjoyable. From the easyWallbox – the plug-and-play home charging solution developed exclusively by ENGIE Eps, via the ‘My Easy Charge’ apps (developed by Digital Solutions) so you can find a charging point anywhere in Europe, to a single card for charging and payment, valid throughout Europe at almost 200,000 charging stations. In terms of insurance, Assicurazioni Generali provide customized solutions based on driving style and actual use of the vehicle.
And those who have concerns about switching to the New 500 electric have at their fingertips Fiat GOe LIVE, the free app on iOS and Android platforms to simulate the use of a 500e. The simulation highlights the potential economic and environmental benefits of using the New 500 rather than the customer’s current car. The app also provides useful information on the e-Mobility experience, can locate charging stations throughout Europe and lets you book the New 500 online.
Finally, FCA has launched its Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) project, which uses electric car batteries as systems to distribute stored energy. In partnership with ENGIE Eps and Terna, the largest such plant in the world has recently been inaugurated at Mirafiori, enabling bidirectional interaction between FCA’s full-electric cars and the power grid. As well as recharging the cars, the project will use their batteries to provide grid stabilization services, now in the pilot testing phase. Once fully operational, it will be possible to connect 700 New 500 models, which – with the 12,000 solar panels on the roof of the plant – will result in a reduction in CO2 emissions of over 2,100 tons.
The New 500 has a whole other song to sing
In the world’s automotive landscape, AVAS systems are practically the same in all cars: a mundane, anonymous electric sound, whereas the New 500 has a whole other song to sing, inspired by the most authentic Italian creativity.
A time of restart and recovery requires a soundtrack to accompany the ‘new normal’. The New 500 represents change in its very own way.
Hence the unique and original choice that has been made, the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS). A sound alert to pedestrians is now required by law for electric vehicles at speeds of up to 20 km/h, which the New 500 – at over 20 km/h – transforms into ‘music’, using the tune composed by Nino Rota for Amarcord, a movie that symbolized Italian culture and nonchalance, just like the 500 does.
The New 500 and its style, materials and colors: beauty and soul
When designing the New 500, the Fiat Centro Stile focused on the soul of the car: a product that ought to be a statement of the Italian spirit.
It is exactly that Italian creativity that marks out the style and design of the New 500: an electric car that is also beautiful, a real innovation in the landscape of zero-emissions city cars.
The New 500 is therefore the first electric car with a soul that embodies its entire lifespan, made up of 63 years of history and successes. All you need to do to figure all that out is look at its front: the designers conceived a highly modern, pure front, to give it a powerful identity. Since its debut in 1957, it could be said that the ‘clean face’ of the 500 can be linked to an ‘electric’ car’s, a true one-off in the automotive landscape. The silhouette also follows the play of references between the past and the future: all three generations of the 500 are defined by the same central line, the characteristic of their proportions. It is a silhouette that stands out in traffic, that states its uniqueness, and that was modeled to be carried over to the 2020 model.
The 500 remains true to itself, yet is subject to renewal: the addition of the battery pack under the new floor offered up the opportunity to create a car with new dimensions, an evolution in line with its original proportions: the New 500 is a little wider, longer, the wheelbase is broader and even the rims are larger, while the interior boasts a roomier passenger compartment.
The chassis layout is better proportioned, resulting in a perception of increased stability and dimensional presence.
Overall, the appearance of the New 500 in its three variants – cabrio, hatchback and 3+1 – conveys a more powerful and robust character, more compact and elegant, with clean, essential lines and simple, meandering lines.
All its interior spaces have been redesigned to give passengers the feeling of a breath of fresh air, as if they were sitting on a ‘romantic bench’. In the continuous interaction between past and future, many references are also made here to the forms used in of the first 500, such as the slender, pure and elegant dashboard, partly down to the minimalist buttons, ordered like a piano keyboard; the now iconic circular instrument panel or the steering wheel, which now has two spokes once again.
In addition, the interior space available has been organized using various modular storage compartments, to meet passengers’ every need.
Compared to previous versions, the New 500 is decidedly more elegant and sophisticated, including in the choice of materials. With the 500 of the last decade coming closer and closer to the worlds of interior design and fashion, on one hand we have used the New 500 to strengthen this bond by using more refined textiles with a pinstripe effect and mélange treatments. On the other, we emphasize a stronger bond with nature and well-being by using warm and soft shades, with an element of innovation to refer to the electric soul of the New 500, related to the current major interest in sustainability.
All this has been made possible by a quest for eco-friendly and recyclable materials, which has taken shape in the application to the seats of vegan leather and Seaqual, a fiber derived from recycled plastic partly collected from the ocean, chrome replacement paints and mats made of recycled fibers.
Another curiosity is the treatment of the New 500 dashboard: as well as the bodywork paint, a styling now iconic of the 500, expressly to emphasize the concept of evolution and the greater refinement and care and attention to the interiors. The materials chosen to upholster the dashboard are inspired by natural elements such as wood, with innovative treatments including three-dimensional and graphic surface printing and weavework that recall the concept of craftsmanship, both interpreted with a contemporary, typically 500 flair.
In terms of the color palette, the New 500’s hues are mostly iridescent, to express emotions and to emphasize the inspiration drawn from nature, the nuances on offer are reminiscent of real-world materials, to strengthen the refined, evolved character of the New 500. As you can see from the colors selected for the Opening Edition, three exclusive liveries (‘Ocean Green’, ‘Mineral Gray’ and ‘Celestial Blue’) inspired by the fundamental elements of nature are now available across the line-up. The other new colors are ‘Earth Gray’, at first glance a ‘classic’ pearlescent bronze, understated and elegant, lit up when it interacts with light by flecks of light blue (the same as the 500e logo), making it a contemporary, vibrant and ‘electric’ color; ‘Glacier Blue’, a ceramic, delicate and ethereal hue, where blue, green and light gray meet in a living color that does not shout from the rooftops; ‘Rose Gold’, a fine-grain pearlescent color, resulting in a fluid, prestigious metallic effect. And then comes ‘Cloud Gray’, a gray with a highly noticeable grain. Combined with a matt finish, this feature results in a decidedly material and bold effect. There’s also ‘Ice White’, the 500’s classic pastel white, simple, elegant and timeless. Finally, ‘Onyx Black’, a pure gloss black, minimal but striking.