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FUN-FILLED FIAT Fiat 500 Colour Therapy › Punto TwinAir › Panda 4x4


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ROYLE MEDIA & ROAD ince the Fiat 500 was launched in 2007, on Road Magazine is published by the 50th anniversary of the original, the Italhappy publishing & PR team, Royle ian brand has gone from strength to strength. Media. Contact us for your own They’ve sold over 100,000 Fiat 500’s in the UK brand magazine – print or diggy alone now and the urban chic city car has picked – and perfect PR or SoMe. up numerous awards, as have Fiat’s innovative range of lively eco TwinAir, Multiair petrol and Mult- Phil & Bonnie Royle iJet diesel engines, which power the whole, rapidly- www.roylemedia.co.uk www.facebook.com/roylemedia expanding range. www.twitter.com/RoyleMedia Now the Fiat 500 has been given a retro-chic, 1970s-style new range called ‘Colour Therapy’ ROAD SNAPPER: Neil Denham – packing even more fun, style and design panache www.neildenham.co.uk into the magic mix, and we’ve got a ‘Countrypolitan ROAD USA: Ashley Van Dyke Yellow’ TwinAir one on test in this Fiat special. www.avdmotorsports.com We’ve also got the newly-revamped Punto on test, also in TwinAir spec – a car that’s vital for ROAD RACER: Neil Primrose Fiat, competing in its core, competitive and highwww.islaracing.com ly-prized, supermini market. To combat rivals, it’s www.travisonline.com loaded with more technology, specification and eco-credibility than ever and is a definite improveROAD I.T GURU: Steve Davies ment over the out-going, out-dated old Punto. www.skiddmark.com Finally, we test the fresh-faced Panda, in reguFollow Road on Twitter, like us on lar front-wheel drive and also in re-vamped, brand Facebook, enjoy our daily blog & new, SUV of the Year Awarded, 4x4 specification visit our Royle Media publishing & – a legendary cool car reborn? The 500 might get PR website, by clicking on the blob all the attention, but the Panda is a car that truly links below. Thank you! represents the core values of Fiat – funky, stylish, affordable, green, practical and, above all else, fun. Enjoy the Fiat special folks! Editor, Phil Royle


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COLOUR THERAPY

Funky, fun Fiat conjure up some fabulous retro modernity, adding a glam, chic new ‘Colour Therapy’ 1970’s inspired range to the already super cool, supermini Fiat 500


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he Fiat 500 is already well established as a modern retro chic city classic – arguably even cooler (and certainly better dynamically) than the ickle original. It’s popularity (over 100,000 have been sold in the UK alone since the 2007 launch) and range expansion knows no bounds, as more and more models, accessories and tweaks get added to the expanding range year on year – satisfying popular demand for the feisty Fiat. And this is their latest 500 range offering – the

new ‘Colour Therapy’ cars. They’re inspired by the 1970’s, with bold bright, classic paintwork options and vibrant interior choices, all picking up retro white detailing – backed up by a kitsch advertising billboard campaign with tag lines like ‘ace,’ ‘you dig?’ and far out.’ Mmmm. Putting aside the questionable advertising agenda, the 500 in 70s colours idea is another good one – picking up on the car’s heritage and roots and appealing directly to the style conscious, cool, designer types market.

As if to prove my point, top fashion snapper, Elisabeth Hoff has been commissioned to capture the essence of the new range, with these superb ‘colour blocked’ images, which really do a great job of promoting the new range – unlike the ad slogans! The new range features five special paint colour options – New Age Cream, Pasadoble Red, Volare Blue, Tech House Grey and the one we have on test, Countrypolitan Yellow. And all of them have superbly snazzy interiors, with lots of white


detailing to match. In addition, the new range gets air conditioning, start/ stop and MP3 as standard and ace white mirror covers, really retro white wheel covers over the 14-inch rims, ‘Sport-fin’ white roof aerial and the piece de resistance is the ‘pool ball’ design gear knob, which not only looks great, but feels fab too. Bravo Fiat! The range starts at £10,760 (OTR) for the 1.2, rising up to £14,510 (OTR) for the ace 0.9-litre TwinAir, as tested here. Sounds

expensive, but that’s only an £800 premium over the ‘Pop’ entry-level model, with over £1000’s worth of extras. OK, it’s still expensive, but you can really see where the extra money has been splashed, stylishly. Fiat’s marketing director, Elena Bernardelli says: “The special colours and stylish new touches will make the Fiat 500 an even more attractive proposition to our customers. Tasteful features such as the white door mirror covers and ‘pool ball’ design gear knob in match-


ing colour take the popular 500 to a new level, showing just how timeless the classic city car really is.” Initially, I saw the new range as a bit of a gimmick, making the 500 even more Tonka toy than usual. But, I have to say, I’ve really warmed to it – especially with the utterly awesome TwinAir turbo in tow, which always makes me smile. The light, airy interior is as cool as it is comfortable and easy-to-use. And the daily tactility and visual stimulation of brilliantly designed, regular use items like the multi-colour key fob, that ace (and perfectly positioned) gear knob, the ergonomic white steering wheel and the awesome, retrochic but modern dashboard really win you over. Like other cars in the funky Fiat range, the main ingredient is a sense of fun – and the Colour Therapy range takes the fun factor up another notch. I loved it: but it looked a lot better on my sexy wife!


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PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE 500

American racer, Jonathan Start tells the tale of his fast and feisty Fiat 500 winning the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car B-Spec


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he 2012 Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car B-Spec was a picture perfect season for champion winner, Jonathan Start and Start Racing. It brought classic racing highs and lows with everything in-between. And few could have predicted the exciting season about to unfold at the first and inaugural race of the class at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City UT, where Jonathan would bring victory to the Fiat USA, SRT, Start Racing Fiat 500 from the off.


“If you were to ask me a year ago if I would be on the top of the podium in race one, I would have thought it was crazy,” stated driver Jonathan Start. “The Fiat 500 was an excellent car to drive and handled like it was on rails. The engineers at both Fiat on the design of the car and the engineers at SRT did an excellent job developing the car and having it ready for the season.” The rest of the year was a great show for both car and crew – acquiring three podiums and top five finishes for

the next two rounds at Mosport and Sonoma Raceway. The Pirelli World Challenge executed a great new class that brought excitement and pure racing in a new form to the sport. The races were close, tight, intense and fun to watch. Touring Car B-Spec has placed itself to add more focus to the manufactures. With so many major manufactures involved in the class, it was


demonstrated by all the teams that anyone could go to the dealership buy, build and race a car in a professional series at a competitive level.  “The Pirelli World Challenge series is proud of the level of professionalism and success that Jonathan Start and Start Racing brought to our Touring Car B-Spec class. We look forward to Start Racing and the Fiat brand’s continued par-

ticipation in the future - as this class continues to grow in 2013.” said Scott Bove, CEO of WC Vision. Start Racing campaigned the Fiat 500 with the support of Chrysler’s performance division, SRT and help from Fiat. The team ran the season on a grassroots budget, without the help of a big trailer, tons of crew and spare parts. It came down to knowing the car was built to its full poten-

tial and could handle each event with the bare essentials. With no surprise the car did everything it needed to do to bring home the first Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car B-Spec drivers Championship title.  “Our inaugural season in the B-Spec class was the perfect place to for Jonathan to showcase his talents as a driver and show the versatility of the Fiat 500 as a reliable, competitive race


car”, said Geoffrey Carter, Director of Competition for the Pirelli World Challenge Championships.  The dedication to the program and hard work paid off for Start Racing and Fiat in 2012. Racing at premier race tracks in North America with a new class and car is a big task to take on for anyone. The fans relate to small cars now more than ever and it was clear that they enjoyed watching Fiat,

Kia, Mazda, Honda, Ford and other manufactures take B-Spec Racing to professional event weekends with a promotional package for the class that is this unparalleled.  “When it comes down to the end I wouldn’t have been able to ask for anything better this year. The car was a blast to drive all season and the people at SCCA and Pirelli World Challenge created an at-

mosphere for a great show to be put on for the fans. I would like to thank SRT and FIAT for allowing me the chance to pilot the FIAT 500 this past season and for giving me everything I needed to drive the car home to a championship winning year!” says Jonathan Start.


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LEAN GREEN FUN MACHINE

Fiat’s new-look Punto is a hit across Europe, and testing this ‘Unplugged Green’ TwinAir Turbo, it’s not hard to see why


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emember the old ‘spirito de Punto’ TV adverts? Crap weren’t they? But they obviously worked, as it’s the first thing that springs to mind when I set off for a first run in this new-look Fiat Punto TwinAir, I’m ashamed to say. After all these years of road testing cars, I should be more capable of coming up with something better, but the ad slogan seems to fit – even though I’m still at a loss to the exact nature of its translation. “Forget boredom... Change Perspective... Enjoy state-


of-the-art technology that’s easy to use,” say Fiat and, in a rare display of truth in a press pack, that’s exactly what the fresh-faced Punto offers: Accessible, practical, innovative fun – elements oft missing in cars with twice the price tag. The five-door (they do a

three-door too) TwinAir we have on test here, dressed in a lurid, but mightily effective ‘Unplugged Green’ new colour scheme (not unlike VW’s colour for the sexy Scirocco) costs from just £12,100-£13,735 with the ‘Brio’ pack, adding extras like fog lamps, cruise

control, climate control, ‘Blue&Me’ comms and rear parking sensors: That’s darn good value, for a supermini easily big enough and practical enough to be a decent family car. And one that looks this good – with its new, colour-coded, twin air intake, black grille front


bumper design and new rear Fiat badge doubling up as boot entry. There’s new 15-inch rims as standard too (from a wide choice in the accessories range), and the TwinAir also offers a slick, black roof option, which really vamps it up a notch aesthetically, along

with ace black and chrome alloys. Looks great. The TwinAir is at the top of the range, with Pop, Easy, Lounge and the new GBT (built to celebrate Fiat’s support for British cycling!) below it, and comes with a generous, easy-use, welldesigned specification.

And the engine range has been rationalised from the old Punto Evo range too, with clever Multiair (electrohydraulic valve control) 1.4litre engines (with or without turbo), 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol units with variable valve timing, 75 and 85hp Multijet commonrail Diesels


and the utterly amazing, rightly award-winning 875cc TwinAir Turbo. This two-cylinder engine (“that delivers like four”) is the magic ingredient in the ‘Spirito de Punto’ mix. It’s utterly brilliant. Hooked up to a six-speed gearbox and with a dual mass flywheel, this lightweight engine is a dream. It

sounds like a fruity old rally car and makes you smile every time you hear it. It loves to rev too, easily bouncing off its soft rev limiter if you’re not careful. Sure, it may not be that powerful – only knocking out 86 bhp at 5,500 rpm and 145 Nm at 2,000 rpm – but, thanks to the Punto being nimble and light, it

knocks along really well, even cruising on the motorway, where you’d expect it to flounder. Best of all, it’s great fun to drive. I mean, great fun. Driving the TwinAir reminds me of blasts in my old Mini Cooper S – you have your fun at relatively low speed, getting in and out of trouble, slipping and sliding and with a


great soundtrack. Ace! Should the mood take you (and it rarely did me), the Punto also has an ‘Eco’ mode, which cuts torque to 110 Nm at 2,500 rpm, helping it to put out just 98g/Km and reach a peak mpg of up to 74.3 (52.3 combined). And the ‘Blue&Me’ comms system (Bluetooth & TomTom) also allows owners to

make use of “your own personal driving trainer,” downloading their eco figures onto a USB stick to upload to the Eco:Drive website and compare figures. Quite why you would want to do this is beyond me, but, apparently 64,000 users do, which makes me want to cry. Whatever floats your boat eh?

Personally, in my hands and with my lead foot and desire to enjoy life, the TwinAir struggled to average over 27 mpg in the week I had it – which, given how hard it got driven is OK, but a far, far cry from 74.3 mpg, so don’t read too much into those figures, I would suggest. The Punto also offers a


‘City’ mode on the neat dash, which is fabulous – lightening the (great) steering, to aid you around town and in and out of tight parking slots. That works and I did enjoy using in London. To sum up, here’s a car that is cheap, but looks cool and quite expensive, is economical if you don’t drive it like a frustrated rally driver, is practical and well equipped and best of all, a whole heap of fun. We’d recommend it to anyone looking for a spacious, innovative supermini. Just promise us one thing... don’t go downloading your eco data, please! That’s not ‘spirito de Punto’ at all, OK?


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UNendangered species The Panda is back! Perfectly priced from just ÂŁ8,900, stylishly, generously packaged and still big on fun in its third generation


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hirty-three years ago, back in 1980, when JR Ewing and John Lennon both got shot, Fiat gave birth to one of the most no frills cars ever born – the Panda. And the simple, ahead of its time city car was a huge hit, selling over 6.5 million units glo-

bally in its first and second generation form, until Fiat put the Panda out to pasture in 2003, just as it won European Car Of The Year in 2004. Doh! But Fiat are making up for that PR disaster now – with the birth of the third generation Panda – available from just £8,900, to £14,950. And whilst it might look a little like the last Gen II Panda, in fact the Gen III is quite different – offering greater sophistication, a more refined finish, improved ride, quieter cabin and massive trim level. Take a long, deep breath, as the trim levels in full are: ‘Pop’ which is “simply practical” with 14-inch rims, daytime running lights and CD/MP3 radio (4 speak-

ers), ISOFIX, Start-Stop, Dualdrive steering, ABS, body-colour bumpers, central locking and electric front windows. You can get either a 1.2-litre, 69hp petrol (£8,900) or 75hp Multijet turbo diesel (£11,100). Then there’s ‘Easy’, which is about “extra comfort” and adds air conditioning, remote central locking, groovy roof rails and two more speakers. It offers the 1.2 69hp (£9,550) or the ace 0.9 TwinAir Turbo 85hp (£10,750) or TwinAir Dualogic spec (£11,815) and Multijet turbo diesel 1.3 75hp (£11,750). Then there’s ‘Lounge’ which is all about “luxury touches” adding body colour door handles/mirrors, black side mouldings, front


fog lights and 15-inch alloy wheels. This is available in both 85hp TwinAir (£11,250), TwinAir Dualogic (£12,315) and 1.3 Multijet £12,250). Finally, is the new frontwheel drive, urban off-roading ‘Trekking’ model offer-

ing “a beautiful adventure” with all-terrain urban trim, ‘Blue&Me’ voice control navigation and comms, ESP and hill holder and Traction Plus control, in TwinAir and Multijet (from £12,450). Then there’s the range-topping actual 4x4 (see on).

Sorry about that! But I wanted to show you just how much is on offer in the monster Panda range these days. And I didn’t even start on the options list! First impressions are of a solid, practical, stylish and intelligently designed city


car, inside and out. It easily seats four in comfort and with a feeling of space (thanks to the roof height), although the deep but narrow boot might struggle to take all the luggage. I hated the seats – perching on them, not in them

– but my passengers were OK with them. And I hated the ride, which I’ve always found too bouncy and unsettled in a Panda and the Gen II is no different. Oh, and the over-assisted ABS brakes – a seeming must for all city cars these days to

presumably generate more whiplash claims. But I was impressed by the Panda’s new-found motorway cruising ability (despite the obvious wind and road noise), groovy designed, orange, easy-read dials, tactile steering wheel


and, perhaps best of all, the dash-operated ‘City’ mode Dualdrive steering. I’ve heard folk criticise this function for “taking feeling away”, which it undeniably does. But I loved it when stuck in heavy traffic in London. Negotiating jams with one finger touch steering somehow miraculously and marvellously removed me from the misery of the grind of the big smoke’s rushhour. In truth, I was cynical about the Panda initially. I felt it had not gone far

enough visually from the last model to justify its ‘new’ tag. I also still felt it was pug ugly, a bit too plastic for its own good and, well, a bit cheap and nasty. But I was wrong. A full week in the company of the charming little creature revealed all the Panda’s charms... and I even got used to its flaws. The acid test was a road trip into London city centre involving a bit of everything – motorway cruising, ring road navigation and nipping down through the city,

down The Embankment and onto Victoria Station, with a boot loaded with luggage and car full of passengers. And the little Panda coped amazingly – in all environments. And you can’t ask for more than that from a great value car like this eh? And fit the optional front fold-down seat and 60/40 rear split and it’ll even give room for a six-footer to stretch out in the back, feet up in the front, or act as a delivery van! Versatile, stylish, fun and fresh, the Panda is back.


return of the panda 4x4

Like the original 500, the old Panda 4x4 is a cult classic. Now it’s back in petrol and diesel form... and we love it.

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ne of the most unlikely cult cars ever built was the original, 1983 Panda 4x4. The tiny car that could blast through a muddy field was loaded with character and is now a cool, charming classic.

And now it’s back, topping the new Panda range – with the £13,950 0.9 TwinAir Turbo 85hp, 107 lb.ft 4x4 (six-speed) and the £14,950 1.3 16v MultiJet 4x4 turbo diesel 74hp, 140 lb.ft (fivespeed) versions. Bravo!

Like the front-wheel drive ‘Trekking’ model, the 4x4 offers a raised ride height of 47mm. But the 4x4 is loaded with tough-looking 15inch dark alloys, body-coloured bumpers, skid-plates, roof rails and 4x4 side mouldings, revised suspension, a higher air intake (to aid wading potential), funky interior trim with gloss black instrument surrounds, advanced traction control and a permanent 4WD system, with electronic locking cen-


tre differential and ‘power on demand’ torque sensors – giving it decent off-road ability. It’ll cope with snowy, icy, muddy fields and tracks and is good for up and downhill gradients of up to 60%, thanks largely to its super-low first gear. The new 4x4 will even top 103mph too (sadly, the Diesel only manages 99mph, in the vein of the classic!), which is a lot faster than the old model could ever hope to achieve, and the economy is impressive too – at 57.6mpg for the lively, fun

TwinAir and 60.1mpg for the gutsy diesel. “The Fiat Panda 4x4 is one of the best-known, and most capable four-wheel drive cars available” says Elena Bernardelli, marketing director, Fiat Group Automobiles UK (which is true and a tad hopeful respec-

tively). “I am very happy we are launching these and look forward to seeing them on – and off – the road.” And so do we. The normal Panda is a fun-filled joy machine. Having the ability to take it soft-roading only adds to the appeal. A future classic is born, again.


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ROAD 32: Fiat Special