Still the funkiest

city car

Fiat 500 Lounge, front static 2
Fiat 500 Lounge, side action
Fiat 500 Lounge, side static
Fiat 500 Lounge, rear static
Fiat 500 Lounge, full rear static
Fiat 500 Lounge, dashboard

THE funky little Fiat 500 has been around now for an amazing 11 years and it still looks as fresh as the day it was unveiled.

Inside, it's loaded with style and character, and makes far more expensive cars look dowdy by comparison.

Despite its tiny overall size, there is just about room for four slightly cramped adults and certainly enough for two adults and two children.

And although the boot is small, it's well shaped so that a good amount of stuff can be packed in.

Add to that very easy power steering and a city button to make it as light as a feather, the short length and parking is an absolute doddle in the smallest of spaces.

I recently drove the top selling 1.2 Lounge from the middle of the range and loved every minute of it.

It's perky and stylish in ways that few other cars can match, with fair acceleration as long as it's pressed up the rev range.

Do that and it can zip through traffic, sliding through gaps few others would manage as long as the driver has the nerve.

The 1.2 engine produces an adequate 69bhp for the light weight and its smooth and quiet right through its rev range.

But if you need to press on, the revs have to stay above 3,500 to keep the engine on song. As I said, it is very smooth, so that's no hardship, except of course in that it will seriously affect the economy.

It will trickle through town in fifthgear without a murmur of protest and, very slowly, accelerate away again.

There is a fair amount of noise on tar and chipping surfaces - just as there is in the majority of cars - and big alloys with low profile tyres don't help the ride in town, which can be unsettled and even uncomfortable on poor surfaces. Smaller wheels with higher profile tyres would almost certainly improve this.

There is plenty of grip through hard pressed corners and despite some roll, good balance and well weighted steering make it good to drive and very safe.

Visibility is good all round, helped by a fairly high driving position, but that doesn't suit all drivers because although there is minimal seat height adjustment, it doesn't help much and the steering column is only adjustable for height.

The majority of the dash and controls, plus the steering wheel, are in a creamy white and it really looks brilliant, although would probably need fairly regular cleaning.

There are also a number of chrome touches around the cabin, which add to an up-market feel.

The front seats have reasonable back and hip support and are generally very comfortable, but there is nowhere to put your left foot when it's not needed on the clutch, apart from a footrest which is much too far back. Very strange.

The front windows and mirrors are electric, but the rear quarter windows don't open at all, not even for fresh air.

Equipment in the Lounge includes seven airbags, electric front windows and mirrors, remote locking, alloy wheels and audio remote controls on the steering wheel.

But some of today's essentials, like air conditioning, cruise, parking sensors and traction control are all extra.

FAST FACTS

Price: £13,900

Mechanical: 69bhp, 1,242cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 101mph

0-62mph: 12.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 55

Insurance Group: 8

C02 emissions: 108g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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