Fiat 500: compact, capable and fun
The first time I drove a Fiat 500 it was tiny, rust brown and powered by a 500cc, air-cooled twin cylinder engine. As a method of negotiating Edinburgh's cobbled streets it was slow, bouncy, cramped and indescribably uncomfortable. It was also achingly cool, and belonged to the senior art director of the ad agency where I worked at the time.
An awful lot of years have passed since then, but the memories of the car still remain.
Fast forward a generation, and I encountered Fiat's venerable ‘small car' on the Greek holiday island of Corfu, where it is a staple of the tourist car hire fleet. My rented villa came with a ‘free car' for the duration of our stay, but the exact nature of that free ‘car' was glossed over in the brochure. And so it was that George turned up one morning in a tiny blue buzzbox labelled Cinquecento, and we laughed. That thing, we thought, is never going to make it up these hills.
And how wrong we were. That tiny car was perfectly at home on Corfu's narrow roads and precipitous climbs. As nimble and lively as a mountain goat, it took us all over that island with a grin as wide as a mile.
Engine 1.4l 16V 4-cylinder petrol
Output 100hp, 131Nm
Transmission 5-speed Dualogic robotised manual
Price from Dh72,500