If there's one application that sets Blue&Me apart from competing infotainment systems as well as demonstrating its potential power, it's eco:Drive. It's a two part application involving data logging in the car itself and a PC application providing analysis and driving advice.
The overall aim of eco:Drive is to increase driver awareness of more efficient driving practices and highlight specific opportunities for improvement. It's very simple to use. Download and install the eco:Drive application on a PC, configure a USB key as instructed, plug it into your 500 and start driving. The system is clever enough to support multiple drivers using the same vehicle, you simply identify the driver in question as you reconnect the USB stick to your PC to upload the logged data.
eco:Drive requires five days' worth of data before all its features and functionality are unlocked. But during this initial period you can still view a wealth of data. For each journey, you can examine the overall journey time, distance travelled, Co2 emitted and cost in fuel. The eco:Drive PC application, we're happy to note, is extremely slick, attractive and easy to use.
If you're the sort of person who really cares about saving either your wallet or the planet, it's fascinating stuff. You can, for instance, compare in detail the merits of attempting a given journey at different times of day or at different speeds. Likewise, it's much easier to make an informed choice about the cost of driving compared to public transport alternatives. It also appears to be quite accurate, returning exactly the same 42.2 mile distance for both legs of a return journey test route.
Following the initial five-day logging period, you are presented with overall totals and averages for mileage, emissions and so on. You are also awarded scores on an arbitrary scale of one to five in metrics including speed, acceleration and gear changes along with an eco:Trend score out of 100 for your overall driving performance. eco:Drive then gives you useful tutorials on how to improve efficiency by showing where you are going wrong in areas such the average engine speed at which you change gear. From there, you can set a target for your overall eco:Trend and analyse your efforts day to day.
Adding to the fun, eco:Drive has a community dimension which reveals how your driving compares to other Fiat drivers. Currently, there are around 10,000 users in what Fiat calls "Ecoville", though it's not clear if that is in the UK or worldwide. But as fun as all the star and eco:Trend ratings are, we reckon it's the access to the hard journey data that makes it most useful.
Oh, and if you are wondering, we achieved a fairly pitiful overall eco:Trend rating of 36 out of 100 during 361 miles of driving at an average of 44.2mpg. In truth, that's a pretty good result given the fairly merciless ragging we inflicted upon the poor little 500.