Cats are discerning creatures – they find the warmest, most comfortable spot and nest for the day. Hubble, my Burmese terrorist, is no exception. After 11 years of following me around the place, he’s become a creature of habit.
His favourite spot, from 12.30 until 4pm, is on the roof on my canvass-topped Land Rover. It’s warm, he can eye up the bird population, and there’s no chance of a scrap with the village hounds.
This morning I found him on the roof of the 500C. He’s never taken to the roof of any other car before but the canvass soft-top of the Fiat appears to have been one temptation too far. In a word, Hubble has defected. He’s sold out to a small, cute Italian Shameful.
To keep him off, I’ve had to leave the roof open. It folds back in stages, and takes about 20 seconds to crumple up. It’s not a true soft-top, in that you still have the sides of the car in place but it’s actually rather good in that you don’t get blown away at speed and small people in the back aren’t buffeted around in a hurricane.
Good choice Hubble…
My only sad moment in the 500C happened yesterday when I heard on the radio (wot, no DAB Fiat?) than comedian Rik Mayall had died. For a generation of schoolboys, Mayall was the anarchic madman, smashing his head through walls, hitting Ade Edmondson with a cricket bat and generally being a lunatic.
Twenty years ago, I met the pair of them for lunch in a Bristol restaurant, to promote their hit comedy show Bottom. It was supposed to be an hour-long interview – three hours later we were still eating cake and ice cream.
Fortunately for me, both of them were off the booze, which at least gave me a fighting chance. Except they kept filling my glass and the interview notes read like gobbledegook when I got back to my desk later.
What I also found when I got back to the office was that my jacket was heavier than when I had left several hours earlier. Mayall and Edmonsdon had filled my pockets with cutlery and let me walk out the restaurant…
How much power does a little car like the Fiat 500 need? Well, the barnstorming, 135bhp Abarth version is crazy fun but probably too much of a handful for many people, while the range starts with the 1.2-litre version we are testing. Our car kicks out 69bhp and for anything outside of the city, is way too slow.
The problem is that there is no acceleration from a standstill, to the point where it feels like you have to time your exit from a junction with extra thought and care. It takes an age to get going and with four people on board, would be bordering on the dangerous.
Which brings me to the excellent 0.9 Twin Air. This version produces 85bhp from a two-cylinder engine and has plenty of torque for accelerating too. Another safe option would be the 1.3 Multijet diesel that produces 95bhp – more than enough grunt for the little 500.
So, if you are buying a 500C, just make sure you test all the engines before making a choice. Our 1.2 probably isn’t the best, unless you want to dawdle at Morris Minor speeds…
Is your steering wheel black and boring? Just check out the gorgeous 500C! If you’re worried that the white leather might get dirty then please buy a Ford Fiesta.
I spent yesterday scooting around the Cotswolds in this crazy cool car and I think I was grinning inanely for most of it. It’s miles better than the class-leading Mini and dares to be deliciously different.
It’s been about a year since I have tested a 500 and I’m realising just how much I’ve missed it. If I lived in London and needed a city car – there’s no doubt that this would be it.
The roof on the 500C rolls back like a sardine can and Friday’s sunshine just made the whole experience more enjoyable. It’s going to lash down today but somehow, I think I will still be smiling…
People buy a Fiat 500C because it offers wind in your hair pleasures at a modest price. It’s all about zipping around town, squeezing through the narrowest of gaps and enjoying every last minute of sunshine behind the wheel.
The 500C is as visually engaging now as it was at launch in 2009. It’s has one of the best interiors of any supermini, if not the best. A cunning mix of retro chic and style with excellent build quality.
If you want real performance there is an Abarth model, or you can go tax-free with the brilliant Twin Air engines.
So peering at the 500C parked on my driveway this morning, my first thought is what a cute and fun car. The next is how the heck does it justify the £16,375 price tag?
Hopefully, by tomorrow I should have a few answers…