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Racing Teatray

500 1.2

Well, our Easter transport in Le Marche was a Fiat 500 1.2 Lounge in Grigio Colosseo, which was a slightly olive shade of mid-grey. Interesting to compare the 1.2 with the Twinair.

Driving impressions? Well, the 1.2 certainly feels slow compared to the Twinair the engine is willing enough to be thrashed like all small Italian cars but it lacks the two-pot's zestiness and the performance is more about gathering speed than any active sense of acceleration. However, to its credit, the 1.2 is much more tolerant of pulling away in a higher gear the Twinair actively grumbles if you don't keep the revs up and you need first in the Twinair where the 1.2 would be fine in second. That means that actually around town I suspect the 1.2 would be a more relaxing companion. Notwithstanding the absence of much sense of acceleration, once up to speed though, the 1.2 will happily bowl down the autostrada at an indicated 140kph without feeling out of sorts. I've not driven our 500 other than around London so it was a revelation to attack some swift and twisty roads up the Metauro valley towards the Appenines and the border with Umbria. Driving small underpowered cars on such roads can be fun because it is so much about preserving momentum that you have to really pick your lines and the 500 actually grips and flows surprisingly well for such a short, tall car on 15" wheels. Rides well too if a bit bouncy at times. Sure the controls are light and not particularly feelsome, but you work with what you have and by God the BMW's clutch felt heavy when we got back to Stansted last night! I also like the position of the gearlever up on the dash it falls very easily to hand and is very "snickable".  I could see that a "naked" Abarth (ie a Lounge with the Abarth motor dropped in but none of the chassis tweaks or ride destruction) could be lots of fun.

Other thoughts? Well, we both like the exterior colour, which was very stylish but inside the combination of grey metallic dash finish and black plastic/leather looked much less stylish and luxurious than the retro white dash finish and ivory leather/plastic in ours. Sure the ivory finish is girly, but it looks a lot more upmarket than the black. Plus worth getting the climate control (standard in a Twinair Lounge but not in a 1.2 Lounge) over the basic air-con this 1.2 had.

All in all, a cracking little car for nipping around Italy as you would expect. The size is ideal for slipping down little cobbled medieval streets, and the sassy style and Lounge trim meant it didn't feel like we were slumming it in some mediocre renta-box from the bottom end of Thrifty's pricelist.
Big Blue

Nice.

Every time I select a 500 in Vienna I get given something "equivalent". For the F1 GP in Austria this year I need a bigger car so went for a Golf and guess what: I got offered a "guaranteed model" on a 500 if I so wanted. Typical. I still haven't driven one!
Frank Bullitt

My friend has a 500 1.2 dual logic Lounge, it's a lovely smooth car but quite slow unless you cane it; the gearbox learns your driving style so as she drives like an old woman that probably doesn't help; her partner reckons it takes a few miles before it forgets her driving style when he uses it. They managed to cruise along in France at 130 clicks behind us without by drama.

I really still like the 500 and it's one of those cars that isn't colour sensitive at all - even the non-metallic beige they do suits it!
Racing Teatray

I have to say that when we ordered our 500 (white with a red cloth interior), they had a 1.2 Lounge dualogic in the showroom in the same colour combination but with red Frau leather and a bunch of other optional extras for the same price as our Twinair. After this experience, I'm almost tempted to say we should have taken that one instead - dualogic would have made sense around town and the 1.2's power characteristics I suspect suits my GF's habit of always being in the highest gear she can get away with far more than the Twinair does. But then she tends already to complain that the Twinair is slow, so she'd probably find the 1.2 overly glacial.

Obviously, we should have got an open-topped Abarth version except for the fact that comes with an altogether more stupid pricetag.
Big Blue

Racing Teatray wrote:


Obviously, she should be driving around in the Z1


FYP
Tim

I've had the, er, pleasure of driving a few 1.2s as courtesy cars and found their comfortable cruising speed on the motorway to be 80ish.
They were nice enough but it always felt like the rear suspension was a bit too bouncy compared with the front.
gonnabuildabuggy

130 european or English clicks? I can only think the former?
Bob Sacamano

Tim wrote:
I've had the, er, pleasure of driving a few 1.2s as courtesy cars and found their comfortable cruising speed on the motorway to be 80ish.
They were nice enough but it always felt like the rear suspension was a bit too bouncy compared with the front.


That was fixed when they adopted the 1.2 cabrio suspension set up across the range in 2010.

We're on our third 1.2 and last time we changed we looked at the twinair; it felt a bit quicker but was noisier, with more vibration so we stuck with the 1.2. It's a smooth, free-revving engine and around town it feels plenty nippy.
Tim

Bob Sacamano wrote:
Tim wrote:
I've had the, er, pleasure of driving a few 1.2s as courtesy cars and found their comfortable cruising speed on the motorway to be 80ish.
They were nice enough but it always felt like the rear suspension was a bit too bouncy compared with the front.


That was fixed when they adopted the 1.2 cabrio suspension set up across the range in 2010.



The ones I drove were 58 or 59 reg so before the changeover then.
PR

Tim wrote:
I've had the, er, pleasure of driving a few 1.2s as courtesy cars and found their comfortable cruising speed on the motorway to be 80ish.


My brother drove my mum's Panda 1.2 to Le Mans a few years ago. With a couple of passengers on board I can't imagine that progress was exactly effortless...
Frank Bullitt

gonnabuildabuggy wrote:
130 european or English clicks? I can only think the former?


130mph!!!

Clicks, Yank speak in 'Nam for this funny measurement they use on the continent.
Racing Teatray

Here is the mighty mite up high in the Appenines on the border between Le Marche and Umbria, where my other half comes from. Gorgeous up there.


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