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vehicle

F is for fun 2013 Fiat 500 by rhiannon herbert

F

iat, as you may know, is an Italian auto manufacturer. Founded in 1899, Fiat has grown for over a century, building everything from tractors to aircraft. But what they’re best known for in North America are their superb little cars. The original Fiat 500s were sold as economical town cars in the 1950s, and while the model has come a long way in terms of refinement and styling, the premise of creating a driver-centric, well-engineered, and affordable car has remained core to the Fiat ethos. Fiat Canada is currently the leading provider of European compact cars, indicative of the growing trend towards both fuel-efficient compacts as well as the growing reach and appeal of European makes in the North American market. The 500 was re-released in 2007, on the 50th anniversary of the original model launch. The 500 has since been presented as a stylish, affordable, and distinct vehicle in the compact market, and its genuine appeal has translated to considerable suc-

cess in a country (and province) where bigger is often understood as better. It was great in 2007, and after testing out the current model, I can say it’s been getting better ever since.

Styling Photo: Courtesy of www.motortrend.com

interior

Photo: Courtesy of Rhiannon herbert

T

he Fiat provides a strong lesson in what correct proportioning can do. While a very small car, the Fiat avoids looking tiny by being made up of proportionally sized parts (e.g., 15 to 16 inch wheels) and well-formed curves. I wouldn’t say this is a “girl’s car,” either, though I hate that term — the 500 isn’t overly cutesy and the almost innumerable options for interior and exterior colour assure one’s tastes can be well represented.

Photo: Courtesy of Rhiannon herbert

T

he interior of the 500 is a smart and punchy complement to the exterior. Refraining from too many distracting bells

and whistles, the focus of the 500 interior is on driving: controls and switches are placed intuitively to keep your mind and eyes on the road. A good example are the volume adjustments, placed on the underside of the steering in order to naturally meet your fingers as they curve around the wheel. Another great interior feature is the instrument cluster, placed in classic chrome-lined rings in centre view, displays both travel and engine speed that one can effectively monitor while busting through the gears on the pool ball knob.

The dash materials are made of a mix of shiny and grained plastic material that are attractive and unpretentious. No fake wood marbling here, just bright, clean colour set against muted, textured tones. Did I mention how many colours there are? Well over a dozen are available for both the inside and outside, and Fiat keeps coming out with new colours all the time. You can literally style your own interior. Choice! It’s the stuff of a well-dressed burger, as well as a well-dressed car. Real chrome details throughout the 500 really

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Verb Issue S253 (Aug. 16-22, 2013)  

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