Road test: Fiat 500 TwinAir Colour Therapy
There were some good things which happened in the 1970s. I know, because I was there. We had supersonic passenger flight, we had the Dark Side of the Moon album from Pink Floyd and we had the Chopper bike. We also had strikes, Blue Nun wine, pit closures and the pink Hillman Avenger. So one should always be open to gentle mocking when playing the retro card.
However, Fiat’s extremely successful 500 demonstrates we do enjoy looking at the attractive things themed from our past. We’ve covered the 500 here at Motor Writer a couple of times with the 1.3 Multijet diesel and TwinAir 500C but the latest model is now available in a new trim level called Colour Therapy (annoyingly spelled without the ‘u’ on Fiat’s .co.uk site) with different colours and an openly 1970s theme.
Things I never said in the ‘70s
Available in Countrypolitan Yellow, New Age Cream, Volare Blue and Pasadoble Red, Fiat’s fresh trim range sits between the base Pop and better-specified Lounge. Other than ’70s-tinged paint plus white mirrors, steering wheel and wheel trims there isn’t a great deal different but it’s cheery and gives the marketing team something to shout about. And shouting they have been: ‘Hubba hubba’, ‘you dig’ and a number of other things I never said in the ‘70s are all over the web site. To get into the spirit, I have donned some brown trousers and a tank top and taken the helm of this Countrypolitan Yellow model.
Looks and smiles from passers-by
The 500 is a really cheery place to be. Well-established though the 500 is, it still manages to catch looks and smiles from passers-by. Driving the Colour Therapy model isn’t any different to a Pop other than the funky pool ball-styled gear knob. The 85hp TwinAir is a lively beast and suits the 500 well, from both power delivery and aural perspectives. It must be kept on the boil, though and don’t expect to hit any of the economy figures – Eco mode is for fooling the emissions people and pretty much squashes out all the fun; the 0.9 litre two-cylinder petrol engine is a proper fizzy thing and should be kept between 3 and 4 thousand rpm for maximum pleasure.
The compact dimensions and ease of driving make the 500 an ideal city car but it is also fun on the A-roads. I took a run out to the edge of the Peak District to capture these ‘70s postcard-style pictures and the drive still feels fresh.
There is certainly a place for cheery, inexpensive cars
Now, it’s time for a confession. I actually own a ‘proper’ 1970s Leyland-built MGB GT. In Inca Yellow. And I love it, so my review of this little charmer may be a tad biased. However, after seeing an entire row of black, mid-sized hatchbacks in a supermarket car park yesterday, there is certainly a place for cheery, inexpensive cars which don’t take themselves too seriously.
Objectively, it is a very mild refresh for the 500 range and it doesn’t have a huge spec. Yellow is notoriously poor for resale values but impact is probably less for the cheeky 500 and the red and blue options are smart. There is always the risk that the white bits won’t look too fresh a couple of years in – even on this low-miler press car, the ‘white’ aerial has already turned grey. For the now generation though, it remains one of the best car fashion statements on the market, it’s a good all-rounder and maintains sensible residual values. Add the TwinAir engine and it couldn’t be more characterful.
Power: 85 hp (5,500 rpm), torque: 145 Nm (1,900 rpm), emissions: 92 g/km CO2 (band A), 0-62 mph: 11.0 secs.
Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○