Fiat 500 1.4 16V Cabriolet

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What an amazing little car.

This was spectacularly fun to drive, it was even relatively practical. The bottom end grunt was there all the time and it came alive with the sport button on. It isn’t the fastest thing out there but the acceleration is excellent. You can tell it was made more for City driving than highway driving, it’s comfortable on the highway but that isn’t where it belongs. For the size motor it has, the performance is seriously impressive! It isn’t “getting the back out” levels of fast but it does a lot and for its size it really does stick to the tarmac nicely through turns.

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The cabriolet isn’t that noisy either, which was lovely. It opens up in a very old school way but very effectively. It was really fun with the roof down. Justifying the cost of the cabriolet is difficult but in the end it’s a lifestyle choice and how efficient the Fiat is with the roof up helps with this decision. The boot space isn’t massive but it is effective. It has just enough space not to be annoying. The back seats don’t have the most leg room but it’s comfortable enough. The whole image of this car is brilliant. What I like is that it’s not an updated replica of the old 500 instead it’s a completely new 500 with homage to the original; it’s its own car.

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At R200,000.00 it is expensive for a smaller car. You must remember, though, that it is a high performance cabriolet. To me this does make that price tag justifiable. One thing is that the interior felt underdone for the price and the type of car that it is. I wanted the quirky nature of the car to come across inside the car, and I felt very let down by the interior. There were some nice finishing touches though.

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The gearbox is smooth enough, though I did have moments getting into 3rd instead of 1st. Small irk but it was just the nature of the box. The handling was good, I didn’t feel too small while driving in the 500 which was a change from some other small cars I’ve driven. In some smaller cars you become so aware of the size of the car that it feels an insecure drive. This car has wonderful character but I think the next model may be a more finished product. The 500 feels almost perfect, it just needs that last little bit of ‘je ne sais quoi!’

Specs worth noting:

  • Price: R200,080.00.
  • Engine Layout: Transverse inline 4 Cylinder 1.4 16v.
  • Gearbox: 6 Speed Manual.
  • 0-100kmph: 11 seconds
  • Power Output: [email protected]
  • Torque: [email protected]
  • Airbags: Driver, Passenger, Driver, Knee, Front side and Front and Rear Curtain Airbags.
  • Brakes: ABS, EBD, ESP, Traction Control, NBA and Hill Holder.

Competitors:

  • Citroen DS3 1.6 VTi Style: R204,900.00
  • MINI Cooper Convertible: R282,381.00
  • Opel Corsa OPC 3-dr: R259,790.00
  • Renault Twingo Gordini 1,6 3-dr: R214,900.00

We asked Claire Spector, ballerina, to give us her comments on the car.

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This is a very attractive little car. It looks compact and sporty, and gives the feeling that it is hardy and dependable. I like that it is also a little bit quirky in its design, with the soft top giving it an easy-going look. It gives off the vibe of being practical for both zipping around the city, and lazy afternoon drives around the countryside, and it’s the kind of car that I’d imagine a “young professional” would enjoy driving.

The interior, while having been accused of being stark, looks like it could be the interior of a little space pod, with all the knobs and dials prominently on display, so if that’s your thing, then this is your car. For the luxury seekers, it may be a bit of a disappointment, because it is clear that it was designed to be functional, though it does have a crispness that is easy on the eye.

All in all, the Fiat 500 seems to be reasonably roomy for a small car, while still being undeniably cute and sparkly. I’d recommend it to someone who isn’t planning on having a vast family any time soon, and who has an eye for the quirky.

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Special thanks must go to AutoGlym our new cleaning product partners.

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