The ultimate designer car at a decidedly undersigned price

0
19

The Fiat 500 Pop 1.2 – now also the 2009 Design Car of The Year Europe’s 2008 Car of the Year?
Yours from just R150 500.

Accessorise to your heart’s content?
From R290* for chromed winged mirrors to R8 830 for an electric glass sunroof.

A car that epitomises ‘La Dolce Vita’ (2009 Design Car of the Year)?

Priceless.

There is one designer car your money can buy, for everything else ask Warren Buffett…

The irrepressible and surprisingly affordable Fiat 500 has just been elected 2009 Design Car of the Year by 59 journalists from around the world, beating 51 short-listed cars from the world’s top car makers.

The Fiat 500, along with contenders like the Jaguar XF, were selected as finalists for the last round of judging at the New York International Motor Show, with Fiat’s chic and sophisticated small car bagging the top design prize. (Four international design experts, namely Silvia Baruffali, Editorial Director of Auto & Design magazine, Robert Cumberford, design critic and journalist for Automobile and Auto & Design magazines, Akira Fujimoto, Editor-in-Chief of Car Styling magazine and Tom Matano, Executive Director of the School of Industrial Design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, voted the Fiat 500 absolute winner of this year’s award.)

The best news, of course, is that this little design icon can be yours for a mere R150 500 for the Pop 1.2. While it might sound a tad ‘vulgar Dahling’ to talk greenbacks when worshipping on the altar of style, it’s very heartening to know that you can pick up a 21st century cult masterpiece for the same price as some soulless, pared down, anonymous econobox.

Fiat’s Head of Design, Roberto Giolito, calls it ‘practical beauty’ – the ability to create striking, innovative yet affordable cars which express the best of Italian manufacturing.” Oscar Rivoli, Managing Director of Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa, concurs: “This design accolade is the greatest artistic endorsement of the Fiat 500 and it serves to highlight what a great value proposition the Fiat 500 Pop 1.2 at R150 500 really is.”

Consider this:

  1. Designer styling
    In Pop guise the Fiat 500 loses none of its saucy charm. To borrow a phrase coined by uber design diva, Kimora Lee Simons – “there’s an awful lot of fabulosity to maintain” – and the 500 Pop does it with aplomb. In fact, the only visual differentiator between the Pop and its posher playmates (the Lounge and Sport 1.4) is that it sports wheel trims as opposed to alloys. The latter are, of course, available as cost options as are the nearly 500 000 other customisable niceties.A peek inside reveals the same flirtatious interior as its siblings save for the black cloth trim, more traditional gear knob lever, a different steering wheel (sans leather and remote audio controls) and the deletion of Blue&Me – once again all available as cost options. But bear in mind that the Pop is definitely no mean-specced, entry-level model – it comes with the same bells and whistles as its pricier stablemates including remote central locking, air conditioning, dual-drive power steering, height-adjustable steering, electric windows/mirrors, stereo system, trip computer and follow-me-home headlamps.

  2. Eco-Chic 1.2-litre engine
    The Euro 5 compliant Fire engine that powers the Fiat 500 has a capacity of 1242 cc, and has undergone a series of refinements designed to make it a champion of fuel economy, but without detracting from performance. The engine delivers 51 kW at 5500 rpm, and peak torque of 102 Nm (10.4 kgm) at 3000 rpm, with a top speed of 160 km/h.That is not all. With the 1.2 8v engine, the Fiat 500 leads its class for consumption, delivering 5.1 l/100 km in the combined cycle, with CO2 emissions of 119 g/km – one of the lowest on the market. Acceleration over the 0-100km/h dash is also excellent at 12.9 seconds.

    This figure is even more significant in view of the car’s low consumption. The credit goes to the structure of the engine, which achieves generous torque at low revs (this makes for more enjoyable driving and outstanding flexibility) and ratios chosen to highlight fuel economy – the Pop comes standard with a 5-speed box (the Lounge and Sport are kitted with 6-speed transmissions).

A few highlights of this engine include:

  1. The adoption of an electronic throttle valve control system known as ‘drive by wire’ (with no mechanical connection between the accelerator and the throttle), while it is the electronic control unit that delivers the torque on the basis of the driver’s demands (torque-based system).
  2. Fluid dynamic optimisation achieved by a new high turbulence combustion chamber combined with a continuous variable cam phaser. This innovative system allows a substantial part of the exhaust gases (about 25%) to be recirculated in the combustion chamber, significantly reducing fuel consumption and exhaust emissions when driving with a partial load.
  3. The timing components have been made lighter and the valve springs are of the low load type, to reduce friction.
  4. Another interesting feature of this engine where fuel consumption is concerned is the use of an active knock sensor capable of managing the advance in the best possible way in all conditions and, above all, the multipoint sequential phased injection system by Magneti Marelli.
  5. On the environmental front, the 1.2 8v fits a catalytic converter in the engine bay, welded to the exhaust manifold flange. In this position the device is extremely efficient because it reaches high temperatures very rapidly thus abating emissions even while the engine is warming up.

Class-beating safety

  1. As with the Lounge and Sport, the Pop comes standard with 7 airbags (two at the front, two curtain-bags, two sidebags and one to protect the knees) and ABS complete with EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution). ESP (Electronic Stability Program) and ASR (Anti Slip Regulation or traction control), plus Hill Holder, to help the driver on hill starts, and HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assistance) which steps in for emergency stops, are standard on the Lounge and Sport and available as cost options on the Pop.
  2. And the Fiat 500 boasts all the dynamic features and comfort that enable its occupants to tackle any type of route comfortably and safely. Plaudits must go to the suspension: an independent MacPherson system at the front, and semi-independent interconnected wheels with a torsion axle at the rear. The two layouts have evolved from a Magneti Marelli design and have been used on other Fiat models in the past; they have now been revised and modified for the new car, to guarantee outstanding handling and the highest possible level of comfort.
  3. Pricing, warranty and servicing
    • Fiat 500 1.2 Pop: R150 500
    • Fiat 500 1.4 Lounge: R188 500
    • Fiat 500 1.4 Sport: R188 500
  4. Enhancing the ownership prospect, the Fiat 500, as with other premium products in the Fiat stable, has 30 000 km service intervals and enjoys full after-sales support in South Africa thanks to a comprehensive parts inventory (housed and distributed in an all-new, state-of-the-art facility) and the back-up of trained technicians at Fiat dealerships countrywide.
  5. Fiat Auto South Africa offers a three-year 100 000 km Warranty (three years on paintwork and five years on rust anti-perforation) as well as a five-year / 90 000 km service plan.
  6. The new models are covered by the AA Fleetcare roadside assistance for 12 months. The service is active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is available by calling the dedicated toll-free number 0800 223 727.