We own a Twin Air 500C. Taking in mind the looks, performance, fuel economy, desirability, usability and price, this is a perfect small car.
Everywhere we go people look and admire Bella, as we have christened her. The tiny 2-cylinder (two beer cans in size) engine is gutsy with a surprising amount of low-end torque, and even when loaded with four adults it can keep up well on most road conditions with most cars.
The engine is also very economical, although not as good as FIAT would lead you to believe, yet the small tank will return a decent long range when motorway cruising. Economy dips in city traffic, but then what car doesn’t?
She’s as cute as a button with timeless looks, so there's no desire to update the car every couple of years. She’s an instant classic, unlike the ever growing MINI - or should it now be called the MAXI? We don’t have kids, so the car is ideal for a fortnight road trip for the two of us, even if we take our dog. Even shopping at IKEA poses few problems as a quick push of a button opens the roof and even a wardrobe can be transported home, albeit with quite a bit sticking out of the top. But, we did get it home, so the weekly shop is no problem for this little car.
Sure other small cars come with a heck load more electrical goodies, but in reality the only thing I would like is cruise control. Our version, with Dualogic cog box (a godsend in city driving, although not the quickest shifter), leather and a chrome bonnet spur was AU$23,000 after a lot of haggling on a special order. For the day it was a bargain but not in comparison to other marques. Still we don’t get hit with depreciation because we don’t want to upgrade her.
Problems. No cruise control as mentioned, and the cupholders don’t hold our cups. The rear view is obscured, but that doesn’t bother people who can drive - it’s just part of the charm. If you’ve any complaints then try a truck. Being Italian means it does suffer from the most appalling dealer service though. On a day to day it’s not a problem as we have a specialist mechanic that looks after her, not that we have had any problems other than a clutch replacement that the electronics said we needed (but was about 20,000km too early).
The dealer problem was when we ordered the car. We had selected pale blue, beige roof and cream interior with white highlights. We then placed deposit and waited the three months that we were told it would be before a car could be transported to our side of the world. That date came and went without any communication from the dealer. No car. It disappeared. Four months later the car arrived.
The transportation company couldn’t find it in their yard after it had been unloaded off the ship. A week later the car was in the dealer's yard being offloaded from the transporter. I rushed to see it. It was the wrong car. Pale blue, yes, but with a black roof and interior. I went ballistic got a few grand knocked off the price and a promise that a new order was being placed that day.
Eighteen months after the first order was signed, Bella arrived. It was still the wrong car as the wheels were wrong and the headlights were not the projector units as ordered. They swapped the wheels, but could do nothing about the lights, so got another couple of grand off and a free plug-in sat-nav, without the optional plug-in hole that was needed to operate it. Ah the fun of the Italians. We left the dealer, never to return, and headed off to our favourite Italian restaurant for lunch.
Half an hour after leaving the dealer, and while parked outside Mario’s in Fitzroy we were enjoying a glass of wine ordering pasta and watching a passerby taking a picture of Bella. That's quite a regular thing these days.