Fiat aims to retain motorists on the brink of outgrowing the pocket-sized 500 by expanding the line-up with a more practical variant fitted with a single rear-hinged half door. Called 3+1, it’s offered exclusively as an electric car.
Viewed from the driver’s side, the 3+1 looks almost exactly like the new 500 introduced earlier in 2020. It’s when you walk around to the passenger’s side that you notice the differences. Stylists made the front door shorter to accommodate a half door similar to what we’ve seen on several extended-cab pickups, the Mazda RX-8, and a couple of Saturn models. Hyundai’s Veloster is a three-door hatch, too, but its third door is hinged at the front.
Fiat explained the half door can only be opened after the front door is pulled out of the way to ensure the passengers don’t accidentally unlatch it. It left out the b-pillar, so users can access the rear bench without having to perform contortionist-like moves to clear the front passenger’s seat. Extra door aside, the 3+1 is a regular 500; its dimensions are identical to the two-door model’s, and it weighs approximately 66 pounds more.
Everything under the sheet metal is shared with the two-door 500, too, meaning the 3+1 is built on a 42-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack that zaps a 118-horsepower electric motor into motion. Its driving range checks in at 199 miles on the rather optimistic WLTP testing cycle, and the sprint from zero to 62 mph takes nine seconds. Keep your foot down, and the speedometer needle will stop moving after it hits 93 mph, the 500’s top speed.
Fiat hasn’t published pricing yet, but it’s of little interest to us because the 3+1 will not be sold in the United States due in part to its small size. Even the last-generation 500 – which will remain in production in the foreseeable future – has been axed from the company’s American range. If you’re curious, however, the new two-door model starts at 25,900 euros (about $30,600) before various incentives enter the equation. This partially explains why it will not be sold in America; Fiat doesn’t think it can talk Americans into spending crossover money on a city car.
What about the wagon?
Rewind to 2018, when former Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) boss Sergio Marchionne presented the group’s five-year plan in front of investors from all over the world. Although he focused on Jeep and Ram, he announced the return of the 500 Giardiniera nameplate used by Fiat and Autobianchi between 1960 and 1977. It was a two-door station wagon then, and we assumed the modern version would stay in that segment while possibly gaining a set of rear doors in the name of practicality. It could have become Fiat’s answer to the Mini Clubman.
We haven’t heard anything about the Giardiniera since, and it sounds like the 500 family is done growing with the addition of the 3+1 (which is named after the Trepiùno concept shown in 2007, by the way). “The new 500 project is now complete,” Fiat stressed. Is that its final word, or is it saving the best for last? And, does this mean the hot-rodded Abarth won’t return? We’ve reached out to the company, and we’ll update this story if we learn more.