Autocrossing a Fiat 500e electric car for first, maybe last, time Page 2

Follow John

Andrea Kerr driving Fiat 500e electric car in autocross, Great Park, Irvine, Califronia, July 2017

Andrea Kerr driving Fiat 500e electric car in autocross, Great Park, Irvine, Califronia, July 2017

Enlarge Photo

Near the start, another group surrounded the 500e, which Andrea has named “Nemo.”

This time, the event manager told the instructor about the unclassified EV he would be piloting around the course. He told him that it was his decision.

Should the instructor believe the car to be a safety hazard, he could pull it from the line, and that would be the end.

Then a fellow who informed the crowd that he was a former technician at the local Fiat store told us he preferred the handling of the 500e to that of the 500 Abarth.

The instructor said he had no problem with driving the car, and Andrea hopped into the passenger’s seat.

Andrea Kerr driving Fiat 500e electric car in autocross, Great Park, Irvine, Califronia, July 2017

Andrea Kerr driving Fiat 500e electric car in autocross, Great Park, Irvine, Califronia, July 2017

Enlarge Photo

As the expert sat next to Andrea, he looked quizzically at the controls, “How do you shift this thing?” The Fiat technician leaned in and said, “Use the push buttons. Like a video game.”

Then the instructor began to ask Andrea questions, “How does the accelerator work, is it really touchy? Do the brakes grab? How is the handling?”

Andrea explained that the 500e acts pretty much like any gasoline car, but it had instant acceleration. He said, “What?”

Then reached into his helmet and removed his earplugs. “I guess I won’t be needing these” he said with a smile.

As they raced around the course, Andrea could tell the instructor gained more and more confidence in the car. He threw it into turns and sailed through the slalom.

Andrea Kerr driving Fiat 500e electric car in autocross, Great Park, Irvine, Califronia, July 2017

Andrea Kerr driving Fiat 500e electric car in autocross, Great Park, Irvine, Califronia, July 2017

Enlarge Photo

At one point, as they exited a turn, he said the tires have no traction. “This car would be really fast if it didn’t have skinny eco tires on it.”

As he was leaving the car, he exclaimed, “That was fun! I went slow at first, because I didn’t know anything about the car.” As the time flashed on the scoreboard, it turned out that even with his hesitant start, he would have placed among the top 10 of the class.

The instructor later discussed his views on the positive aspects of how the 500e handles. He called it a very neutral-handling car with very tight roll control. The instant torque rivaled much faster cars—and he thought the 500e was pure fun.

Andie had four course runs; her second was her fastest.

The event manager accompanied her on her first run. Obviously, he wasn’t concerned about the 500e flipping over. He told me that it was too bad, but this weekend might be the last for the 500e.

Under SCCA rules, they were required to inquire to national headquarters about running an unclassified car. It seemed probable the SCCA would not approve the 500e, based on its similar specifications to the base 500.

Results: Andrea Kerr, Fiat 500e electric car in autocross, Great Park, Irvine, Califronia, July 2017

Results: Andrea Kerr, Fiat 500e electric car in autocross, Great Park, Irvine, Califronia, July 2017

Enlarge Photo

Andrea and I enjoyed our first, and perhaps only, autocrossing event. I would have liked to try my hand at the autocross; I had raced my Corvette back in 1990 at the old Riverside raceway.

I won the timed events and was awarded an introduction to open-wheel racing. While I've participated in events with Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, when I got to take their new cars around short autocross courses, I'd never been to an actual SCCA event.

Maybe once I have my Tesla Model 3, I can come back and embarrass a few more BMWs.

Andrea placed 21 out of the 30 entrants in her class. She beat a Ford Mustang Cobra, a Dodge Charger, an Infiniti G35, two BMWs, a Mini Cooper, a Mazda Miata, a Mini, and of all things, a 1959 Austin-Healey Sprite.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank members of the Cal Club SCCA team. Their all-volunteer force was helpful, considerate, and welcoming beyond what I would have expected: Cal Club has a truly professional organization.

Our thanks also to event manager, Randy Gonzalez and his entire crew.

_______________________________________

Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.


 
Follow Us

Take Us With You!

 


 
© 2017 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by Internet Brands Automotive Group. Stock photography by izmostock. Read our Cookie Policy.