I don’t think I’ve ever driven a car as small as the Fiat 500. That’s small on the outside because inside, it seems to stretch to accomodate all you can throw at it. The back seats would certainly take two toddlers, or a couple of young teenagers.
Jessica and I managed to pack weekend bags, coats and assorted wet eather gear into the boot easily. Our backseat was a more than comfortable platform for a large, brown Vizsla who accompanied us to the Pembroke Arms in Wilton, near Salisbury.
Fitting Malin into an assortment of cars can be a test of nerve and ingenuity. I feared the worst with the 500 but he seems happier in it than most cars.
It’s either because he can sit upright with plenty of headroom, or because he read the blurb for the Pembroke Arms, which provided him with a dog bed, his own canine menu (steak, saugages – can you believe it!) and some biscuit treats as part of the deal.
You have to accept a few idiosyncracies with the Fiat interior. It’s tricky to find the slot for the safety belt, the white steering wheel and headrests are going to get grubby pretty quickly and the 500 really should have steering columns controls for the music system.
But I still sit very comfortably on the wide fabric seats and there’s a tremendous ambience about the cabin. If colour, form and function affect your driving mood, you really need to try a Colour Therapy.
The fact that I’m already looking for reasons to drive the 500 and it’s only Friday speaks volumes. A 875cc car with modest performance and a wacky paint job might not sound that exciting. However, the appeal of this tiny Fiat – based on the same running gear as the Panda – is much greater than the sum of its parts.
You don’t need to be a fashionista to be seduced by the retro curves and gorgeous interior either. Just look at the huge number of 500s there are out there. Fiat has taken a healthy slice of Mini sales from BMW and is now copying the German manufacturer with a stretched version and the racy Abarth too.
True, the 500 lacks macho appeal but it does put a smile on your face every time to climb inside. It’s not just ‘a girls car’ either, although you can sort of understand why hairy-armed blokes wouldn’t be seen dead driving one.
I’ve got an open mind on the supermini. I want to know if it’s a practical alternative to the lower-priced Panda and whether it’s worth the £12,000 price tag too.
Today Jessica and I will head down to the Pembroke Arms in Wilton, Wiltshire, with a large Hungarian Viszla on the back seat. Not sure many dog owners would choose a 500 for transport but nothing ventured!
Jeremy – Seven people, one large dog. The Discovery has to be one of the largest 4x4s on the road but with all seven passenger seats occupied, today I ended up in the front with a Hungarian Viszla on my lap while Jessica drove us out.
I’m not sure anybody has ever cracked the problem of how to carry seven people in an off-roader AND their luggage. Once the third row of seats are folded out of the floor in the Discovery, there isn’t even enough room for a suitcase in the luggage area.
With three children in our party, at least we know that the Land Rover would survive the test of time and the arms and legs of many little people. The seats may be covered in luxury leather but I’m sure you could put an angry calf in the back without having to worry!
Two of the children decided it would be much more fun to get into the third row of seats from the rear door, rather than via the side ones. No problem. This is a true Land Rover, built to cope with anything and very, very robust.
Jeremy Anyone who thinks the Evoque is just a squashed Range Rover should consider this – despite the low roofline, I’ve discovered that there is enough room inside for five adults to sit comfortably.
Admittedly, the glass, full-length glass roof (a £1300 option) helps reduce the feeling of claustrophia if your rear-seat passengers are over 6ft tall and don’t like the narrow side windows. But overall, the leather-clad cabin in the SD4 is a very relaxing place to be.
If you are wondering how Land Rover designers managed that, well, it’s probably at the expense of a decent-sized boot. It’s best described as adequate – but as Malin the Viszla will tell you, it’s nowhere near as big as a Freelander either.
And then there is rear visibility. The small back window really does hinder vision, not helped by the sloping roofline at the back. (a standard issue Labrador will have his head pressed hard against the roof).
Loving the Evoque but all this style does have to come at a price…