Imagine my shock when the press car delivery guy called to say he’d be picking up the barge-sized Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition and dropping off a Fiat 500 Sport. Talk about your contrasts!
docking the Titanic parking the Tundra, which had a propensity for making every parking space feel at least half a size too tight, getting the Fiat 500 Sport in the same holes was like throwing a hotdog down a hallway. The 500 was roughly 90 inches shorter in length and 15 inches narrower than our Tundra.
Most people — including some in my family — figured two things: (1) the car is too small to be comfortable, and (2) it’s nowhere near as safe as that tank of a Tundra I was driving the week before. While its much smaller interior width was noticed quite a bit, I honestly didn’t have trouble with the leg- or headroom at all — which is admirable on the Fiat 500′s part because I’m 6’3″. Also, I was heartened to see a full complement of airbags in the front seats, side curtains, lower dashboard and of course the steering wheel and upper passenger dashboard.
My father, who kept calling the Fiat 500 a “crackerbox,” seemed impressed with the “knee bags,” as he called them. After a drunk driver hit him head-on last February, his leg was broken in multiple places. He will likely walk with a cane the rest of his life. He seemed to think his injuries might not have been as bad as they were/are had his now-totaled Mazda pickup truck featured the so-called “knee bags.”
But nobody buys a Fiat 500 with safety as the deciding factor, right? After just a couple of short drives in the car, with its somewhat rorty MultiAir 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission, I can safely say I sure wouldn’t. The driving experience was the real reason to like this car. I even came to think about the little Fiat 500 as a four-wheeled Vespa of sorts. More on that in the next installment.
Disclosure: Fiat provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.