Mild-hybrid Fiat 500 and Fiat Panda models revealed

Fancy a 500 or a Panda but want to cut your fuel bills? Fiat has created mild-hybrid versions of these popular models. Read on for more info

James Wilson
Feb 5, 2020

Fiat has entered the electrified car circuit by announcing mild-hybrid versions of its 500 and Panda hatchbacks. Having added a small electric motor which aids the engine under certain circumstances, rather than being able to power the car by itself (the defining feature of all mild-hybrids), Fiat is claiming impressive fuel economy and low CO2 emissions figures for both vehicles.

On paper, the 500 and Panda look like they are competing for the same customers. Both models are small, easy to drive, relatively affordable hatchbacks which promise decent levels of equipment. However, take one look at them in the flesh and it becomes clear that Fiat pitches these cars at different motorists entirely.

The 500 is a stylish city car, only available as a three-door and very much aimed at younger drivers – trim levels such as Rockstar are unlikely to be targeting Dorothy from bridge club. Meanwhile, the Panda is more functional and practical (but still city car-sized) and even available with four-wheel drive and a little off-road ability.

Both Panda and 500 ranges have historically been made up of petrol-powered variants with these mild-hybrids being Fiat’s first proper mild-hybrid cars. Electrification shouldn’t come as a shock, though, as more and more drivers are hunting for lower-emission options and electric vehicles for some time now.

Quick facts

  • Fiat 500 priced from £12,665
  • Fiat Panda priced from £13,885
  • Both use a 1.0-litre, 70hp petrol engine
  • In showrooms by the end of March 2020
  • Initial limited-run Launch Edition trims
  • Fiat 500 with a claimed 53.3mpg

Fiat 500 hybrid and Fiat Panda hybrid specifications

Fiat is offering hybrid versions of the 500 and Panda in the same trims as petrol-powered models – there are also limited-run Launch Edition models on offer. Special trims available when a car is first launched are very common in the motoring industry as manufacturers have realised that those desperate to purchase a car ahead of everyone else are likely willing to pay over the odds for the privilege. Be smart, however, and you can pick up one of these equipment-stuffed models for a far lower price a few months down the line as a nearly-new model.

In summary, the Fiat 500 hybrid is available in the following trims: Pop, Lounge, Sport, Star, Rockstar and Launch Edition – listed in order of price. Entry-level Pop trim is affordable but not blessed with much equipment. Steel wheels - no alloys here - electric front windows, a speed limiter and a USB input are the highlights.

Sitting at the top of the regular model range is Rockstar trim, which features 16-inch alloy wheels, seven-inch digital dials, a seven-inch touchscreen media system, tinted windows, air-conditioning, cruise control and parking sensors.

The mild-hybrid Panda range is a little easier to follow as there are only three trims available, City Cross, Launch Edition and Trussardi. City Cross trim brings equipment such as air-conditioning and electric mirrors, while Trussardi trim comes with 15-inch black alloy wheels, Trussardi badging and Bluetooth.

As a note, Launch Edition models come with a handful of potentially attractive features. For example, the seats are made from a material called Seaqual Yarn which is made from recycled plastic taken from both land and sea. There is also a unique paint hue called Dew Green.

Fiat 500 hybrid and Fiat Panda hybrid prices and delivery dates

Those wanting to pick up a mild-hybrid version of the 500 or Panda don’t have to wait long. First to arrive will be the 500 mild-hybrid, in showrooms at the end of February 2020 with the Panda mild-hybrid following by the end of March 2020.

Prices for 500 variants range from £12,665 to £16,795 with Panda variants available from £13,885 to £14,485. For a full breakdown of the trims and prices for each see the table below.

Fiat 500 mild-hybrid

Trim

Price

Pop

£12,665

Lounge

£14,395

Sport

£14,565

Star

£15,895

Rockstar

£16,065

Launch Edition

£16,795

Fiat Panda mild-hybrid

Trim

Price

City Cross

£13,885

Launch Edition

£14,385

Trussardi

£14,485

Fiat 500 hybrid and Fiat Panda hybrid economy and performance

Both models use 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines paired with a small electric motor which collectively produces 70hp and 92Nm of torque - that second figure refers to the low engine speed muscle available. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard as well. These identical figures don’t translate to identical performance, though. The Fiat 500 hybrid will accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 13.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 104mph.

In comparison, the bulkier Panda hybrid will reach 62mph from a standing start in 14.7 seconds and go on to a top speed of 96mph. While these figures seem leisurely, they are (just) within common limits for a city car.

As for economy and emissions, Fiat claims that the hybrid 500 can reach up to 53.3mpg while doing a mixture of driving in and around town and emit as little as 88g/km CO2. As for the Panda mild-hybrid, economy and emissions figures stand at 49.6mpg and 89g/km respectively - meaning the Panda will cost a little more to fuel.

Fiat 500 hybrid and Fiat Panda hybrid electricals

Fiat is using a starter/generator electric motor in hybrid 500 and Panda models. This means Fiat is using the same motor which gets the engine going when the driver turns the key to also give the engine a helping hand when driving down the road. These types of systems are typically most useful when setting off from a standstill.

As the starter/generator has to get its power from somewhere, there is a lithium battery pack onboard which is recharged through regenerative braking – i.e. taking energy otherwise wasted when braking and pumping it into a battery. Being that this is a self-contained hybrid system, there is no plugging in and charging to worry about.

Fiat 500 hybrid and Fiat Panda hybrid rivals

While the number of electrified cars offered by car manufacturers is increasing, the number of mild-hybrid city cars on sale is rather small. In fact, you only really have the choice of a Fiat Panda or Fiat 500.

Look at superminis (the size above city cars), though, and things change. Toyota has been selling a hybrid version of the Yaris for quite some time now and offers a more substantial electrical system than that offered in the mild-hybrid Fiats discussed here. That said, the current Yaris does start at nearly £17,000 and is due to be replaced with a new model soon. If you want one of these, you'd be wise to go for a used Toyota Yaris Hybrid, as you can take advantage of far lower prices than for a new, but soon-to-be-replaced version. Renault will be launching a self-charging hybrid version of its popular Clio in 2020, too.

There are also a number of all-electric city cars and superminis on sale or about to be launched, too. These include the Skoda Citigo-e iV, Seat Mii Electric, Renault Zoe, Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e, while the Fiat 500 Electric is also due to arrive later this year, although switching to an electric car does have a number of ownership implications – namely where will it be charged and the significantly higher initial purchase price.

 

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