CairoScene's Kristina Neave jets to Milan and takes to the roads in a fabulous Fiat 500C, a car that blends the best of both motoring and style...
Whether you are a car fanatic or someone whose knowledge of cars doesn't stretch far beyond the vehicle you drive, when you are approached by Chrysler Automobiles in Egypt to participate in a test drive for the company's car brands in the fashion capital of the world, Milan, you pack your bags and instantly envisage yourself becoming the next young boy racer, and that is exactly what we did.
Let us set the scene. We touched down in Milan, Italy, and as we step out of the airport we are immediately overwhelmed not by the multitude of fabulously dressed fashion goers, but by a fleet of shiny Fiats.
On our first day we were taken to the Fiat design centre in Turin and guided into one of the most confidential rooms where all decisions and meetings for the next innovative models that are yet to hit the markets are held. Thinking we were going to be briefed on the latest hybrid car much like Bruce Wayne out of a scene in Batman, unfortunately no spoilers were given away. Instead the motoring experts at the Fiat production centre familiarised us with the different stages of the production of their iconic vehicles. Dissecting and explaining all the various stages, from the initial emotional pencil sketches to the final, incredibly detailed 3D images, it became clear that creativity is key. What was particularly striking was the attention to detail and their sensitivity to perfection. In fact the Italian eye for style and elegance that is famous worldwide in their fashion industry seems to extend to motoring sector, making Fiat the brandit is today. “The production of a Fiat is all about finding atmospheres. It is about finding what is not just aesthetically pleasing but also functional for our needs,” Fiat's representative explains. “Looking good is important, so each of our cars is made to turn heads. But that's not all; they are packed with innovative design twists that make your journeys easier, safer and a lot happier.”
Proceeding the tour through the Mirafiori Motor Village, perfect for a little Fiat window shopping, it was explained to us that the Fiat design is about three things: style, practicality and fun. Even the older car models displayed in the Fiat museum personified attention to detail as we were introduced to the very first Fiat ever made, a vehicle that much resembled Chitti Chitti Bang Bang and we were convinced would fly at the touch of a button. Walking through this time warp, a new found respect was formed for the modern Fiat as its design is the result of decades of knowledge and knowhow; something that often many of us non car junkies overlook. Having gone through its very own evolution, a brand that is Italian at heart and stands for discovery through passionate self-expression, today Fiat presents us with unrivalled motoring that we were dying to drive.
Now to the drive itself. It has always been my opinion that getting your target sales audience behind the wheel of a new car for a test drive was never quite the first step to closing a deal...until it completely worked on me.
Having spotted the minty-green Fiat 500C from across the parking of the hotel where all the test-drive vehicles waited patiently to be driven, we elbowed our way through our fellow drivers to claim it as our own, and it was so worth it. Driving through the scenic Italian countryside with a navigation system leading the way, darting through small cobble stone villages with the roof down, wind running through our hair and singing along to the high-definition Dr. Dre audio system with our newly bought extremely stylish Italian sunglasses, we were bewitched. Quintessentially Italian, with its bug-like headlights and bunch-backed roof, its pastel colours and chic-retro styling turned heads wherever we went. However the Fiat 500 is much more than just a pretty face.
A fusion of both beautiful Italian styling and innovative technology, the first thing we noticed when we lowered ourselves into this minty fresh vehicle and made ourselves comfortable was a sense of ever-readiness. Ducking and diving happily through city traffic we began to feel part of a high speed heist in the Italian Job but in a charm contest with the Mini, the Fiat 500C would win us over any day.
Comfortable seating, great visibility, a sturdy steering wheel and an advanced instrumental panel that allows you to easily monitor your speed, fuel level and trip information, added a unique character to our drive. It must be said that the acceleration was a bit touchy with an odd whirring noise filling the car, until we hit a large expanse of road. The wise words of Jeremy Clarkson came to mind, “Make sure to change the thing into Sports mode.” Making our driving experience much more enjoyable, the Sports mode smoothens the drive by changing the throttle map for improved engine responsiveness. In addition, the 2015 Fiat 500C is characterised by its maximum fuel efficiency, delivering 31 mile per gallon in the city and 40 mile per gallon on the highway thanks to their 1.4-liter MultiAir engine and five speed manual transmission. In other words, the car is bloody efficient and we couldn't help but be impressed by the little car's big performance. An embodiment of La Dolce Vita!
Surprisingly enough, not only the Fiat 500C but the Fiat Doblo and 500X models we drove around Milan felt spunky, spirited and sporty. The New Doblo, aka the Active Family Space, designed to satisfy the needs of the modern, dynamic family, is perfect for any kind of leisure activity and it is an absolute breeze to cruise in. Although the shape does not quite suit our oh-so fashionably orientated lifestyle and had us practically hanging out of the window at the toll stations, its large interior space, Bi-link suspension, great climate control and amazing soundproofing, (dare we say it) was an even more enjoyable driving experience down the motorway than the 500C.
And then there was the Fiat 500X, the latest addition to the Fiat lineup and a little summin' summin' for the more mature driver looking to step into something a little larger than the 500C. Combining Italian style, functionality and an all-wheel drive, this Fiat was built on the same platforms as the Jeep Renegade but with the iconic Cinquecento features, in a larger package. Perfect for the yummy mummies with its up to 70 security and safety features, and speed junkies with its fuel-efficient 1.4 liter MultiAir Turbo engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission and an output of 160 horsepower, this car truly is the definition of multi-functional.
Having completed our three hour test drive route and arrived at our destination, the Fiat racing track, stepping out of our beloved Fiat was a real struggle and, for a split second, a car heist back to Cairo was considered. Already available in the MENA market ,these cars have certainly piqueed our interest and with a wide variety of colours, and innovative new add-ons and accessories we will undoubtedly be seeing them take over the roads – you may also be seeing us cruising around town!
Find out more about Fiat in Egypt here.