Fiat 500 review – a family car?

The awfully-lovely people at Fiat saw Keris’ Carless whispers column, and spotted that she had always yearned for a Fiat 500… and really rather sweetly asked her if she’s like to try one out for a couple of weeks. Well, she wasn’t about to say no, was she?

One of the first songs I can remember learning at school was called “Hey, Topolini!” I don’t remember much of how it went (“Hey, Topolini! Vroom, vroom, vararrrr!”) but I remember the illustration on the song sheet – a Fiat 500 with Mickey Mouse’s face where the badge should have been. Later, one of our neighbours got a black Fiat 500 and I would admire it every time I walked past. It was just so tiny! And cute!

It had long been my plan to buy myself an original Fiat 500 someday and then Fiat came out with the new version. I became a bit obsessed. So when I was offered one to review, I was beside myself. As was Harry, who’d joined me in my obsession wholeheartedly. My husband, David, was less convinced. At 6’1″ he figured it would be much too small for him to drive.

I was the only one home when it was delivered so I got to try it out on my own and I absolutely loved it. It was just so easy to drive and really comfortable. I loved the glass roof and the shiny pearlised dashboard (I never thought I’d comment on a dashboard, but really – it’s pretty).

Another nice thing about the Fiat 500 is the approving looks you get from other drivers. Lots of people came over to ask me about it (yeah, okay, two). And our next door neighbour with whom conversation has been limited to “Hi.” “Hi.” “Alright?” “Yes, thanks.” for almost seven years practically jumped over his front garden wall to tell me all about the Fiat 500 he owned in the early 80s (he was proud to recite the number plate to me. Baffling.)

When Harry came home, he was interested in the sunroof and the shade, but mostly keen to find out what the Blue&Me could do. Unfortunately for him, I had no idea. I knew it was in-car Bluetooth and someone had told me it meant you could play songs from your phone through the in-car stereo, but… *clueless face*

The following morning, we were driving over to visit my sister, I got out to buy a paper and while I was gone, David hooked up the Blue&Me and voice-dialled my sister. When I got back in, they tried to demonstrate it to me, but it kept trying to phone someone else who we did NOT want to talk to. “Nooooooo!” We all shouted. “End call! END CALL!” Fortunately, the car ended the call, but it made us so nervous that we didn’t try Blue&Me again.

David was right, though, the Fiat was much too small for him. He had his seat pushed so far back that Joe had to sit cross-legged in his car seat (occasionally stretching his legs out on to rest his feet on the back of his dad’s head) and even then, D’s left leg started to hurt him within about five minutes of setting off. There was plenty of legroom in the passenger seat and we liked the fact that the gearstick was higher up so our elbows didn’t bash together like they used to in our (tiny) Daewoo, but it’s definitely a car more suited to someone short.

It’s only two door, which David was worried about – he didn’t think we’d get the car seats in. That wasn’t a problem as it turned out and it was actually easier for me to get Joe in his seat since I just climbed in after him. (Joe also found it easier to climb into the car seat himself than he has in any other car. Not sure if that’s because of the Fiat or because Joe’s grown!) The boot is tiny, but fine for shopping, etc. We couldn’t fit Joe’s buggy in it though (which he was delighted about because he’d much rather walk anyway).

So. To sum up. I really REALLY loved the car. I did. But it doesn’t work as a family car at all (and to be fair, it’s really not meant to).
If I’d had it when I was young and single I would have totally felt like the dog’s doohdahs… but it’s really no good to me now.
I’m glad I drove it, but it’s definitely cured me of my obsession. I still might buy a vintage Topolini, but it’ll have to wait till the boys have left home.

Keris Stainton

OUT NOW! Jessie Hearts NYC – “A breezy summer rom-com, with oodles of New York glamour.” The Bookseller

Twitter: @keris
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Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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  1. So, you don’t want a go in my Abarth one now???

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  2. I will be collecting my 1st fiat 500c in two days time. I currently drive a jeep renegade (which I loved until I realised how thirsty they are – approx 26 miles to the gallon). I’m a keen environment activist and my Jeep was a real sticking point. My husband would not consider buying an electric car and so the fiat500 is a compromise. I have two teenagers and a small dog. We all fit in fine, even if hub is driving. I had one on loan and was instantly smitten ( the 46 miles to the gallon doing urban driving convinced me). We’re looking forward to having the roof down in the summer!

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