Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Retro Yet Modern

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Retro Yet Modern

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK JAMES

MANY, when trying to name iconic motors, instantly think of the Mini, Jaguar's E-Type, or maybe even the Ford C ap r i. Then there's the VW Beetle, in production since before the Second World War. Two of those, the Beetle and Mini, have successfully been reincarnated over recent years and a third is making an even bigger splash the third time a ro u n d .Arguably the first city car, the 479cc, rear-engined, two-cylinder, aircooled Fiat 500 first took to the Italian roads more than 50 years ago in 1957 and stayed in production until 1975.

Your chances of surviving in a crash were probably slim, but it was cheap and fun to drive and at 3m long could be parked virtually anywhere.

To mark the 50th anniversary Fiat reintroduced the car in 2007 to much acclaim with a product light years ahead of the original, sharing much of the technology of the Ford Ka.

It still looks very much like the original but now offers more in terms of creature comforts, performance and safety.

Quirky cars are very much in vogue and the Fiat 500 styling is no exception, being both retro in looks but bang up-to-date technologically.

It does attract attention, particularly the electrically operated soft-top convertible tested, which gives a cute but chic look. The contrasting colours of bodywork and fabric roof are also particularly eyecatching.

The retro look continues on the inside featuring a painted rather than plastic fascia.

Instrumentation is minimalist but funky and sturdy with the radio and climate controls and dominated by a single dial in the odd-shaped binnacle.

The ball-shaped gear lever is set off the floor and into the dash, feeing up extra room between driver and passenger.

The car features four individual seats that are comfortable and suppor tive . …

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