Fiat has been struggling in Ireland in recent years, but the famous Italian cars could see a revival as they are now part of the expanding Gowan Group, who are expected to invest more support in what was once a popular brand in this country. Last week I picked up the new electric Fiat 500e from the Honda offices in Brownsbarn who are also part of the Gowan Group.
Later this year, Gowan will bring together all the car brands they import: Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel and Honda plus Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep in a new premises across the road from Brownsbarn in Citywest.
You probably would need to holiday or live in Italy to appreciate the Italians’ love for the Fiat 500 or Cinquecento. It was first manufactured 65 years ago in 1957 and was re-launched in 2007. Now Fiat have launched a fully electric version of the 500.
The late, great Fiat PR man in Ireland, John Gantly used to tell me that you could be driving a powerful motor car along the Autostrada in Italy, look in your wing mirror and see yourself being overtaken by a Fiat 500.
The cars are powerful and also very neat. The Italians love them for their durability and flexibility and how many films have you seen the 500 being driven in through narrow streets in Italian towns and cities? But the Irish are not probably as much in love with Fiat as the Italians.
A lot of the new electric cars are a bit dull looking with the grille in the front replaced by a boxy type design. But with the Fiat 500e you get a regular looking car and looking at the 500 externally, you would not realise it’s an E.V.
The range with a full charge is approximately 320km, which is probably fine for urban driving. If you are thinking of buying an electric car you will need a home charger as you cannot depend on the availability of public charge points.
It’s a small car with only two doors. In the back there is not much leg room and that space is probably best suited for two children. The boot is naturally small, but you can leave down the back seat if you want to carry any bulky item.
The interior is bright, attractive and well laid out. The dash is dominated by a user-friendly infotainment screen. And there is a plethora of slave controls on the front and back of the steering wheel.
‘Range Anxiety’ is the bit worry for users of electric car, but you should do well, especially in urban driving, in a small car like this. It’s neat and funky looking and you can as the old saying goes, ‘turn on a sixpence.’
Prices start at €24,995 for the Hatchback Action version and rise to €34,995 for the top of the range La Prima Convertible version. Road tax is €120.
I wish Fiat well in their new Irish home just off the N7 and hope that the Gowan Group has much success with their electric Fiat 500e.
Perhaps Brownsbarn on the N7 is an appropriate location for Fiat as the famous Italian-born inventor Charles Bianconi used Brownsbarn as the second last stop for his horse-drawn coaches from Cork to Dublin many years ago. The last stop was Dublin Castle.