The Fiat 500 has already been snapped up by many Island drivers.
ROADTEST FACT FILE
Model...0.9 Twin Air Pop
Mpg (comb cycle)...68.9mpg
Loaned by Harwoods Fiat, Wootton
SINCE the new Fiat 500 was launched three years ago, these cute little retro numbers have become more and more popular, with more than 400 bought by Island drivers.
The 500’s attractive shape and styling have caught my eye many times, so I pushed myself to the head of the queue when a road test became available.
I was not disappointed. This cheeky little Italian number has more feel-good factor than any designer handbag I’ve ever met. It was plain good fun to drive.
The appeal was infectious. I had anticipated a weekend off mum’s taxi duties, believing that the 500 was too girlie for would-be-macho teenagers.
But no — they were quickly charmed by its cool vintage features and zippy ride and begged me to take a detour to Totland on a drive from Newport to Ventnor, so we could drop someone at the beach before taking the 500 down the Military Road.
It was surprisingly comfortable for long-legged back-seat passengers, too. The suspension was bouncy, in a fun way.
The Twin Air Pop model has loads of green features, including clutch-activated stop-start.
Tim Thomson at Harwoods Fiat explained: "The computer won’t allow the engine to stop until it knows for sure that the engine will restart."
I found this stop-start quicker to get used to and less startling than similar systems on bigger cars I have tested.
The 895cc two-cylinder engine has two modes, eco or power. For most of my driving, I chose the power setting, with increased torque. Even with driver-plus-three, totalling nearly 300kg, it had great acceleration. The zero to 60 figure is 11 seconds.
The 500 is dripping with great style features, such as a single clock-style dial incorporating speedometer, fuel gauge and rev counter, as well as a gleaming, enamelled dashboard.
If you’re looking for a zippy runabout with oodles of fun factor, the Fiat 500 might be the wheels of your dreams.