Little Italian has a lot of charm: Fiat 500 TwinAir Dolcevita

By Jarryd Neves, automotive correspondent

Ask those with a penchant for handbags or designer shoes why they spend so much on their accessories derived from the workshop and theyI will simply answer, Because I love shoes / handbags. Those happy to trot in more humble shoes don’t see the point, but for the ultra-chic fashionista, nothing else will do.

I thought about last week behind the wheel of the recently refreshed Fiat 500 Dolcevita. At first glance, the little Italian is a small hatchback with just enough space for two people and a suitcase. At a price of R279,900, practicality would be hesitate to spend so much money on such a small car with little cargo space.

But to understand the 500, you have to ignore the practicality and head straight for desirability. He might be 14, but the retro style still looks so chic after all this time. ThisIt’s cheeky, decidedly trendy and, in a market where most cars want to look aggressive and sporty, it’s refreshing.

A convertible derivative of the Fiat 500 Dolcevita is available, at R324 900.

The test unit, a Dolcevita, mentioned a ‘jet-set / Riviera’ ambiance with its deliciously named Gelato White paint. Few small cars in particular the derivative Dolcevita exudes so much elegance. 16-inch diamond-finished alloy wheels round it out nicely. Like the exterior, the interior of the 500 is devoid of stylistic gimmicks or frivolities. Open the door via the chrome door handle and you go step into one of the nicest cabins on this side for R300,000. A large, body-colored shiny plastic plate spans the entire width of the dashboard, dotted with old world details. The hazard warning light switch, for example, looks like boiled candy.

The instrument panel is color coded with the steering wheel trimmed in white leather. The three-spoke drawbar is flanked by large switches which are a tactile delight. The door cards and dashboard are lined with hard plastics (as is the case with most cars in this price range), but somehow they blend into the background when your eyes see details. The seats, upholstered in a fabric / imitation leather combination, have the ‘500’ legend chosen in contrasting topstitching.

The interior is not without flaws, however. The narrow shell means Fiat has positioned the drivers seat height adjustment lever a few inches from the handbrake, which may cause you to inadvertently lift the seat. Although complete, the on-board computer can be a source of frustration. As new cars move on to screens that provide the driver with various pieces of information, including FiatThe small screen can take a long time.

Fiat 500
The tasteful 16-inch alloys complement the fashionable styling of the 500.

Standard specs are generous, the Dolcevita comes standard with cruise control, power windows and mirrors, central locking, seven airbags, air conditioning and a fixed panoramic roof that lets plenty of natural light into the comfortable cockpit. . The set also includes an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto connectivity and Bluetooth.

If youIf you plan to carry more than one passenger, the Fiat 500 may not be the best choice. Although technically it’s a four-seater, the rear benches are positively diminutive. Even if those in the front are willing to sacrifice legroom, space in the back will still be paramount. The rear bench is best used as a rear shelf, really, to complement the 185-liter trunk.

A unique feature of the 500 is its original powertrain. A 0-9-liter turbo-gasoline two-cylinder is housed under the chunky hood and, perhaps lacking in displacement, the 500 more than makes up for performance. The 63 kW and 145 Nm of torque propel the Italian city car to 100 km / h in 11.5 seconds. On paper it doesn’tIt sounds impressive, but behind the wheel the 500 is an absolute pleasure to drive. The bouncy TwinAir engine emits a rorty growl from its tailpipes, sending the Fiat enthusiastically off the road. Fuel consumption is rated at 3.8 L / 100 km and on the week, I got a respectable average of 6.2 L / 100 km.

The interior is a highlight, the dashboard adorned with lovely details and finishes. (Manual model shown)

Across the corners he is impatient and alert; precise, crisp and direct steering, allowing you to place the 500 exactly where you want it. The chassis is well sorted and could certainly handle more horsepower. The brakes are also excellent, which provide a lot of feeling. The choppy Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) lets down the dynamism. In automatic mode, upshifts are jerky and erratic. The ‘box hesitates to downshift, which hinders Fiat enthusiasm. Fortunately, a manual is available (but not in the desirable Dolcevita trim).

To reach a verdict on the 500, you have to look at the charming hatchback from two perspectives. From a practical point of view, it is lacking on many levels. At this price, there are reasonable and roomy alternatives that make more financial sense. The lack of a standard service plan doesn’t help either.

And yet the Fiat 500 is so charming and so desirable that, if you really wanted one, youto be ready to overlook each of its faults. Simply put, no other car in this price bracket offers such a sense of occasion. Apart from the gearbox, it’s an absolute pleasure to drive, a wonderful environment to spend time and as a fashion accessory something to highlight the style it’s unbeatable in this segment. Much like an expensive Prada handbag or a Manolo Blahnik sandal, for those who desire a 500, nothing else will do.

Fast facts:

Fiat 500 TwinAir Dolcevita

Price: 279,900 rand

Power: 63 kW / 145 Nm

Fuel consumption: 3.8 L / 100km (claimed)

Top speed: 173 km / h

Rivals: Suzuki Swift 1.2 GLX automatic, Kia Picanto 1.2 X-Line automatic

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