Fiat 500 and Panda hybrids

30 January 2020

A pair of the most impressively environmentally-friendly commuter cars is to be introduced here soon, courtesy of Fiat.

They are mild hybrid versions of the Fiat 500 and Panda that are increasing bought by executives as second cars for the daily commute into towns and cities with congestion charges.

The Fiat 500 is regarded as classless, being a favourite of princes and paupers alike, just like the iconic original Mini of the swinging sixties.

Like the Mini, with its Cooper and Cooper S performance versions, the Fiat 500 has sporty Abarth versions, and now there are green energy-    saving hybrids too.

Due to arrive here soon in petrol and battery hybrid guise, the Fiat 500 will be offered in pure electric form in due course.

In the meantime both it and the Panda continue to be snapped up by eager punters at the remarkable rate of a whopping 400,000 every year.

Now they become available with a new petrol mild hybrid engine that combines the latest three-cylinder one-litre engine with a 12-volt electric motor and a lithium battery that delivers 70bhp or 50kW.

Compared to the outgoing 1.2-litre 70bhp petrol engine, the mild hybrid version improves fuel efficiency, reducing CO2 emissions by about 30 per cent without impeding performance. The 500 Mild Hybrid has CO2 emissions as low as 88g/km with the Panda at 89g/km. Fuel economy for the 500 stands at 53mpg, while the Panda achieves 50mpg.

The new one-litre, three-cylinder engine achieves its peak power output of 70bhp at 6,000rpm and peak torque of 92Nm at 3,500rpm.

The system recovers energy during braking and deceleration, stores it in a lithium battery and uses it, at a maximum power of 3,600W, to restart the engine in Stop&Start mode and to assist it during acceleration.

This technology allows the petrol engine to switch off by shifting into neutral, even at speeds below 20mph. The dashboard, which displays information on the hybrid system, prompts the driver when to shift, with the system using a six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive.

An indication of the so-called greenness of the newcomers is illustrated by the seats of the Launch Edition version.

They are are the first in the automotive sector to be made of Seaqual Yarn, the weaving of which produces a special material derived from recycled plastic, ten per cent of which originates from the sea and 90 per cent from land.  Seaqual Yarn is produced by transforming plastics collected from the sea into flakes of polyethylene terephthalate. These flakes are then used in the yarn from which the fabrics are made. In the weaving phase, marine polyester is mixed with other natural, recycled or recovered fibres. This process is completed by the application of dyes and finishes which minimise the use of water and energy. 

The Fiat 500 hybrids are here this month with prices from £14,400 to £16,800, whilst the Panda hybrid’s arrival is scheduled for March with prices from £13,885 to £14,485.