The very definition of a city car It arrived all dressed up with what appeared to be a huge smile on its face; not unlike a little puppy eager to play.
This week, the Double Clutch garage was pleased to welcome a very happy-looking little car. It arrived all dressed up with what appeared to be a huge smile on its face; not unlike a little puppy eager to play. The pearl white 2012 Fiat 500C I drove came equipped with virtually every option you can get on a non-Abarth model. It was definitely an interesting contrast with the V8 Camaro in the garage the same week.
Powered by a wheezy 1.4L 4-cylinder putting out 101-horsepower, the Fiat isn’t going to win any races. No seriously, I think I was outrun by a man on a bicycle. However, the 5-speed manual on my test car definitely adds some pep and makes it a zippy little runabout in the city. I’ll go as far as to say that for its class and price range, the 500C’s shifter is among the best out there. The clutch is virtually an on/off switch, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I used the Fiat numerous times in rush hour traffic, and my knee wasn’t tired or sore in the slightest bit; something I tend to experience when driving cars with stiffer clutches.
While the 500’s low starting price makes it an interesting option for those looking for an economical commuter, this fully-loaded convertible made my jaw drop with its as-tested price of $25,990. Granted; it does come with pretty much everything from two-tone leather seats, Sport mode, a retractable soft-top, navigation, and an iPod tuner. A $26,000 price tag puts it right into Mini Cooper S category; and a Mini Cooper S this car is not. It handles very well, but the high centre of gravity makes it feel a lot less stable at higher speeds. In comparison, even a base Cooper feels planted to the ground right up to its limits. The base Cooper also has enough power to be able to pass garbage trucks, a trait the 500C lacks.
The overall driving experience of the 500C was actually incredible. My mind was blown; and I’ll explain exactly why. I’ve personally owned and tracked a Mini Cooper, so my expectations of the 500 were exactly those of the Mini. That’s where I was wrong. While these two cars are both niche-market vehicles that cater to a presumably similar crowd, they just don’t! The Mini has its rally and sporting pedigree, and it excels at that. The Fiat, however, is an absolute blast to drive in the city. Where the Mini lacks is its inability to not demolish my left knee when driving through traffic, the Fiat actually makes rush hour traffic a pleasant place to be. The Fiat takes regular fuel and literally sips it; my observed economy was an incredible 4.6L/100km in combined driving.
One niggle I do have with the Fiat is the ridiculous seating position. The rear seats are absolutely atrocious for even short people, as the headrests are positioned in such a way that they dig into your neck or spine regardless of how they are adjusted. The steering wheel doesn’t telescope, and doesn’t tilt low enough to my liking. In order to remain even slightly comfortable in long-distance highway driving, I had to position myself so that I felt as though I was driving a full-size conversion van.
I’ll be honest, I completely despised the Fiat the first few hours after I picked it up. I kept commenting on how it lacks any sort of guts whatsoever. I kept commenting on the stupid driving position and the less-than-adequate stereo. As the kilometres progressed though, I began to like it more and more. As the time came to turn the Fiat in, I came to the conclusion that I was actually sad to give the car up. As a resident of downtown Toronto who has to drive through a plethora of stupid taxi drivers, agitating jaywalkers, and streetcars that decide to hit the brakes at any given second in life, I learned to truly appreciate the charm of the very definition of a city car. Kudos, Chrysler!3 comments