2019 Volkswagen e-Golf vs. 2019 Fiat 500e

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

To maximize occupant safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Volkswagen e-Golf have pretensioners to eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Fiat 500e doesn’t offer pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Volkswagen e-Golf are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Fiat 500e doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The e-Golf offers optional Autonomous Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The 500e doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The e-Golf has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The 500e doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The e-Golf SEL Premium has standard Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The 500e doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The e-Golf SEL Premium’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The 500e doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The e-Golf SEL Premium has standard Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The 500e doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

To help make backing safer, the e-Golf’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The 500e doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The e-Golf has standard Car-Net, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The 500e doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the e-Golf and the 500e have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available blind spot warning systems.

The Volkswagen e-Golf weighs 479 pounds more than the Fiat 500e. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

Warranty

The e-Golf’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the 500e’s (12 vs. 5 years).

There are over 55 percent more Volkswagen dealers than there are Fiat dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the e-Golf’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 118 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 31st.

Engine

The e-Golf’s electric motor produces 23 more horsepower (134 vs. 111) and 67 lbs.-ft. more torque (214 vs. 147) than the 500e’s electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the e-Golf gets better fuel mileage than the 500e (126 city/111 hwy vs. 121 city/103 hwy MPGe).

The e-Golf’s maximum EPA estimated driving range is 125 miles on a full charge, 49% further than the 500e’s 84-mile range.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the e-Golf’s brake rotors are larger than those on the 500e:

e-Golf

500e

Front Rotors

11.3 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

10.7 inches

9.4 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the e-Golf has larger tires than the 500e (205/55R16 vs. 185/55R15).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the e-Golf has standard 16-inch wheels. Only 15-inch wheels are available on the 500e.

The Volkswagen e-Golf’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Fiat 500e only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

The e-Golf has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 500e; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Volkswagen e-Golf has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Fiat 500e has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The e-Golf has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the e-Golf flat and controlled during cornering. The 500e’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the e-Golf’s wheelbase is 12.9 inches longer than on the 500e (103.5 inches vs. 90.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the e-Golf is 5.4 inches wider in the front and 4.5 inches wider in the rear than on the 500e.

The e-Golf SE handles at .86 G’s, while the 500e pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The design of the Volkswagen e-Golf amounts to more than styling. The e-Golf has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .27 Cd. That is significantly lower than the 500e (.311) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the e-Golf get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the e-Golf a Compact car, while the 500e is rated a Minicompact.

The e-Golf has standard seating for 5 passengers; the 500e can only carry 4.

The e-Golf has 21.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500e (93.5 vs. 71.6).

The e-Golf has .5 inches more front legroom, 6.5 inches more front shoulder room, 2.6 inches more rear headroom, 8 inches more rear legroom and 7.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the 500e.

Cargo Capacity

The e-Golf has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the 500e with its rear seat up (22.8 vs. 7 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

The e-Golf has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The 500e doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the e-Golf has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The 500e doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

The e-Golf’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children in the rear seat from operating them. Fiat does not offer a locking feature on the 500e’s standard power windows.

The e-Golf’s front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The 500e’s power windows’ switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

The e-Golf’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 500e’s available power window controls are spread out on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

If the windows are left open on the e-Golf the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows with the driver’s door power window switch. The driver of the 500e can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Keyless Access standard on the e-Golf allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Fiat 500e doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The e-Golf’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The 500e’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the e-Golf SEL Premium detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 500e doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the e-Golf SEL Premium has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The 500e doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The e-Golf has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The 500e doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The e-Golf’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The 500e doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

For greater rear passenger comfort, the e-Golf has standard rear a/c vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The 500e doesn’t offer rear vents.

The e-Golf SEL Premium’s Parking Steering Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The 500e doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The 500e has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The 500e has never been chosen.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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