Fiat 500S TwinAir
Apparently, two cylinders are enough
Standard issue city car for the middle classes. Break out your Ugg boots, reusable Starbucks mug and Daddy’s credit card. Welcome to the Fiat 500. This 2014 example comes 7 years after the modern version of the Italian classic was launched. Obviously, it’s nowhere near as small as the original, but the deceptively high roofline helps to shrink the size of the car. It still has a small wheelbase, though, and a turning circle of 9m. Inside there’s space for four(ish) and a boot that’s big enough for your average Topshop haul.
Sporty-looking steering wheel and gear knob
The TwinAir refers to power unit applied to this particular 500. Specifically, an 875cc two-cylinder turbocharged unit. It does sound slightly odd, particularly at idle. Power is a surprisingly healthy 105bhp and there’s less than a tonne to move, so it’s nippy and quite fun. As for the “S” added onto the name, that refers to the sporty-looking trim package fitted to this car. A “Sport” button in the middle of the dash changes the weight of the steering mostly, as well as a not so noticeable change power (had to Google it to check).
The "Sport" button, mounted just below the radio on the centre console
Power in the other engine available for this car, a conventional 1.2L four-cylinder, is a lot lower at 69 bhp. There’s also the added benefit of no road tax for the TwinAir. Which means you can laugh at the 1.2 drivers paying £30, still not expensive by any means. Mileage is good, according to the trip computer it’s done 44.9 mpg over the last 2000 miles. So, I’m not entirely sure why you would buy the 1.2, other than for capacity snobbery reasons.
Showing off its snazzy rims
This particular car belongs to my dad and is his fun weekend alternative to the Z4 he smokes around in most of the time. “Fifi” and I are well acquainted as I spent a few weeks driving “her” after I had disabled my own car (see How to kill a Honda Civic). One particular person at work was thrown off by the change in cars, as well at the odd sound of its engine. My commute at the time was mostly motorway, and the car was quite happy with it. Road noise is slightly louder than your average German saloon but perfectly liveable.
Climbing inside the first thing I always notice is the high seating position, armchair sort of height. Changing through the six-speed ‘box can feel odd as the plastic gear leaver is somewhat indirect. Generally, it rides pretty well, it is a bit easier to ground out on speed bumps than you might expect though. Steering, particularly in the lighter non-sport mode, isn’t telling you much about what is going on at the front. However, if a hardcore, engaging driving experience was your cup of tea an Abarth might be a better option…