Sunday, 28 July 2013

A car with character

I was delighted when the car hire firm Easirent offered me a Fiat 500 as a car in the cheapest economy price range. In the past, they'd rented me a Hyundai I10, a dull little vehicle with the charisma of a squashed cornflake box. Despite the manager's attempt to upgrade me to a Hyundai I20 as a token of appreciation for being a multiple return customer, I stuck to my guns and held on to the Fiat.

What a lovely car - once behind the wheel, I felt an immediate affection for the cheeky little vehicle, a feeling I'd never experienced before sitting in the driving seat of a hire car. For taking two people plus their baggage and the occasional third passenger, the Fiat 500 is ideal. It comes into its own on narrow streets, supermarket car parks and winding Welsh roads.

Below: here we are in Derbyshire, outside my brother's house. Plenty of room to squeeze in and out!

Below: 134 miles further south, outside my parents' house in West Ealing, London. Motorway driving in the Fiat 500 entirely comfortable.

Below: on a moonlit night, outside Hut 6, Penrhos, North Wales. The ideal holiday hire car if there's not more than two of you. Fuel consumption - average 50 miles to the gallon (5.6l/100km). This is the 1.2 litre engined version. The 900cc Twin Air is more frugal, though I suspect it may be not as comfortable on motorways.

The Fiat 500 has stop-start ignition - disconcerting at first as the engine just dies at traffic lights. As soon as you floor the clutch, it returns immediately to life, having just saved you fuel that would have burnt needlessly while idling. Another feature that came in handy was the air-con (once I figured out how to point the nozzles so my knuckles wouldn't freeze to the steering wheel). The panoramic roof was a bonus while driving through Snowdonia.

I love the dashboard. The rev-counter needle is coaxial to the speedo needle; with an engine this quiet, you can end up driving at motorway speeds without noticing that you're in third. Keep an eye on the rev-counter to ensure that it's somewhere clockwise of the speedo needle.

And another good thing about the Fiat 500 - it's made in Poland (Tychy, actually). Fitting then, that after the long drive to my parents' house in London from Duffield, I refreshed myself with a Tyskie beer - also from Tychy.

[UPDATE] Spotted today - there's zero road tax to pay on the Fiat 500 in the UK because the CO2 emissions don't exceed 100g/km.

This time last year:
Llanbedrog Beach and a farewell to North Wales

This time two years ago:
To the Polish seaside, by night train

This time three years ago:
Accounting for the past - 20 years on from PRL's fall

This time four years ago:
An introduction to fine British cheefef

This time six years ago:
Over the Peaks by bus

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