It’s got a boot smaller than Victoria Beckham’s breakfast, it’s got a serious lack of power steering, it doesn’t work with a conventional design and is built like a wet cardboard box. Famous solely for being picked on throughout Channel 4’s The Inbetweeners, don’t rule the Fiat Cinquencento out as a great car to own. This is as close to zorbing on the road as you can legally get.
People with no money or sense could often be found buying a Fiat Cinquecento back in the day. Weak gearboxes, rampant build quality issues and Italian poilitician-esq reliability sent most customers scurrying furiously into the arms of Renault, Ford and the Japanese. In typical Fiat fashion, Cinquecentos have all but disappeared from our roads- but it’s got a legacy that will live on thanks to Channel 4 comedy The Inbetweeners.
Almost like origami held together with a rubber band, or sitting in a helmet with wheels, the Fiat Cinquecento made for a perfect reflection in car form of our four favourite onscreen teenagers. The now famous Fiat Cinquecento first appears in episode three of the cult sitcom, a gift to Simon (Joe Thomas) from his parents upon passing his driving test. His reaction can be viewed below, although the ‘Hawaii’ edition is a fictional aspect. (Choice language rampant throughout the video - you have been warned!)
Suffering serious abuse throughout the three-season run, the Fiat eventually ends up in a lake with a smashed window - and is never heard from again. A fitting place for it really, as the Fiat Cinquecento isn’t what you would call robust motoring. In reality, it was downright dangerous.
The driving experience is unbearable after more than an hour, unless you are genetically engineered by Fiat purely to drive a Cinquecento, due to a rigid seating position and off-set pedal arrangement. Reliability is pretty poor, coming a lowly 29th from bottom in a Top Gear survey covering 137 models back in 2003, ending with a 74.9% satisfaction score in 2005 (18th from bottom) and making various motorists lives agony.
Oh yeah, and then there is the crash protection - or lack thereof. If it weren’t making your life hell, it would simply send you to it instead.
In reality, chances are that Will, Simon, Jay and Neil would never have made it to school without the assistance of the AA - or indeed without being killed.
There are upsides to the little Italian Fiat, however. There is an immense sense of speed on offer despite not going very quickly, almost like a distressed go-kart. The experience is rather exhilarating too; due to the impending sense of death upon leaving first gear.
Handling is also charismatic in the same way Sean Penn is charismatic - unforgiving on bumpy surfaces due in part to firm suspension and flimsy construction; it’s the B-roads where this supermini belongs. And, at the end of the day, you have the car from The Inbetweeners at your control. Forget the James Bond Aston Martin, this is the king of showing your classy nature - in that you clearly couldn’t care less.
At the end of the day, you shouldn’t expect miracles from such a budget car. Complaining about the lack of rear legroom is like bemoaning the difficulty in parking a limousine. Complaining about the trifling issue of boot space is akin to getting grouchy over a 4x4s fuel consumption - the Fiat Cinquecento is what it is. Besides, there are a number of things you can fit in the boot:
A Bic Biro
Most of the spare wheel
We can’t forget that the little vehicle was revolutionary for Fiat, too. Besides updating Fiat's Tychy factory, it opened up a new market to Fiat - and can claim to have set the path towards the überpopular contemporary 500.
And of The Inbetweeners car itself? It’s still alive despite being vandalised at Thorpe Park by a party of insulted Down-Syndrome children, having the passenger door ripped off to be replaced with a mismatched colour and literally being sexually abused - all before ending up underwater. It was put up for sale in aid of Comic Relief, quickly becoming the most expensive second hand Fiat Cinquecento ever.