Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Neutral Blog & Car Reviews

A collection of stories, reviews and rants

Review - Fiat 500 Pop

fiat-500-11957 was a watershed year; it saw the launch of Sputnik and thereby frightening the pants off the Americans.

The unleashing of the raw talent of “The King” with Jailhouse Rock and Italy proved beyond doubt that small things DO come in small packages with the release of Fiat’s Nuova 500 (the new 500) but lovingly known as the Bambino.

Rereleased in 2007, the Fiat 500 has a heartfelt following, primarily because of its endearing looks. A Wheel Thing has spent time with the entry level, $14K driveaway, Fiat 500 Pop and found that none of the fun factor has gone away.

Normally I’d start with the engine however the sheetmetal is part of the attraction the 500 has. It’s a rarity in that it is almost identical to the original; with the quad light front and driving lights pushed out to the bottom corners through to the rear window line and hatchback, it’s an eyecatcher.

fiat-500-2For some “odd” reason the most common comment is “Oh wow it’s so cute” and, unsurprisingly, it’s from members of the fairer sex and those of an vintage to remember the original. It’s smooth, rounded, with a similarly upright nose as the original running into a more angled front line for the window. At the rear the main noticeable change is the deletion of the airvents….otherwise, apart from growing in every dimension the design is a faithful homage to the original. Cute, that is.

Under that tiny bonnet beats a tiny heart. It’s just 1200cc, a touch small than the bottle of aerated flavoured drink in your fridge. There’s a tiny 51 kilowatts (5500rpm) and a commensurately small amount of torques, just 102 of them from 3000 revs. Matched up to a five speed manual (gasp, horror from the gallery) shifted by a short throw lever mounted high up on the dash, on paper the numbers state boredom.

fiat-500-5However, with a body weighing less than three soggy feathers, give a take a bird or two (865kg really….), the numbers metamorphose into a three letter word: FUN. Sure, it needs to be revved to extract the best but it’s FUN watching the tacho zing around the dial. The clutch has a natural and smooth movement, allowing just enough slippage to get away without a bunnyhop or stall.

The engine note is coarse but clears its throat and becomes rorty as the revs climb over 3000. Once under way it’ll ratchet through the five gears, but the revs die away quickly as does what torque there is.

The ride is choppy, thanks to an overall length of just 3.5 metres and a wheelbase of 2.3, which has the 500 tucking the nose in for a touch of understeer whilst the rear steps out in oversteer when thrown into a series of tight, slalom like curves. Sadly, the fun factor is diminished by an overbearing road roar from the 14 inch diameter steel wheels and rubber. fiat-500-4Over the rubber speedhumps that infest certain roads the suspension doesn’t deal nicely with them, crashing harshly and being thrown off line.

The narrow track and short wheelbase also combine to make the 500 somewhat unstable with a cross breeze, however, on a dry road, with no wind, it’s easy to throw around and have fun with it.


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