Who would have dreamed that the car company responsible for such machismo metal as the Challenger and the Barracuda would one day be rescued by a little Italian? These days, FIAT definitely doesn’t stand for Fix It Again Tony!
But La Contessa knows that life – vita mia - is full of irony, and relishes it. Almost as much as I adore the new Fiat 500, which in the old days we called Cinquecento. Ti adoro! My tail wags just to think of that August I spent with Cousin Giuseppe in Cassino, Frosinone. Giuseppe was the love child of a liaison between his maman and the local firehall’s Dalmation, and he has the lovely spots to prove it! A proud member of Italy’s Vigili del Fuco (The Firewatchers), he lives with a fireman who collects the Cinquecento in all its charming derivatives. Our favourite is the Ferves Ranger, a 4WD Fiat used – yes - in fighting fires.
Enough reminiscing! Back to our new Fiat 500, which pays homage to its cherished ancestor in many styling cues, from the wide-eyed headlights to the friendly silhouette. Inside, everything is compact and thoughtfully placed – although it took us a bit to get used to the centre dial, where speedometer, gas gauge, temperature gauge, clock, speed, odometer, tachometer, radio station, gear and the outside temperature are contained in a six-inch diameter readout. Anima mia, a model of efficiency.
Where Fiat plans to install the espresso machine, we can’t imagine. Not the trunk, which is too tiny to fit more than a weekend’s luggage for a single pup like myself. Was that perhaps the inspiration for JLo’s commercial? Was there a hidden message equating JLo’s ample booty to the teeny Fiat trunk? Oh wait, that whole commercial was a fake, right ...
As we cruised along Little Italy, we slid back the sunroof to breathe in the summer breeze, loving the screen that kept our fur in place. We stopped for a gelato, and took a few minutes to check out our little tesoro. Red is our favourite colour, and it sprang up in devilish little details, from the FIAT badge to the calipers in the natty 15-inch wheels, and even inside the engine. Tootling along busy College Street, we loved squeezing between the 506 College streetcar and a silly Purolator truck, nipping in and out of traffic, and pulling u-turns in front of Escalades. Che divertimento!
And we loved the 101 HP engine – how those Italian engineers must have sweated out that one extra HP. Perfecto for city traffic and the urban lifestyle – that’s how La Contessa rolls. Call us a chick, call us a girly girl, but don’t call before noon because we’re busy being fabulous.