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Old 12-03-2008   #1
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My 500 Sport is on the road

Good Morning All

I picked up the 500 on Monday afternoon, and got it home OK despite the worst weather so far this year (80 mph gales, driving rain, etc). Of course it immediately got covered in mud and junk from our Cornish lanes, which was very disheartening, because the dealership had done a great job of polishing it all up. Yesterday it was used for work as usual, involving more trips down muddy lanes in the pouring rain, so the poor little thing has had a wintry start to life. The car is a 1.4 Sport in Pasadoble red, absolutely standard with 15” alloys and the white stripe (by choosing a stock car I got it just 4 weeks from putting down the deposit). Some first impressions (at 90 miles on the clock!) –
  • It is well worth reading the documentation that comes with the car very carefully. There are so many features which are really useful but not terribly obvious, like the A and B trip computers.
  • The ride on the 15” wheels is far less edgy over road imperfections than the 16” ones on the dealer’s demonstrator. I definitely prefer the 15” (and replacement tyres will be cheaper).
  • The boot and the rear load-space with the seat back down is actually a lot better than it looks at first sight.
  • Mine came with the standard space-saver spare wheel provided, thank goodness.
  • I am driving to a self-imposed rev-limit of 4,000 rpm for the first few hundred miles, although the salesman assured me that no running-in was required. Even so, there is plenty of performance available.
  • Driving into work this morning, which is 8 miles of mixed country roads and 2 miles of city traffic, I got 35 mpg according to the trip computer. This is about what I expected for my daily commute, so on a decent run we should do better than 40 mpg.
  • The car is much more fun with the Sport button ON. Give it a twisty uphill road and the 500 is guaranteed to put a big smile on your face – it reminds me of my little Italian motorcycles.
  • Everyone who sees it loves it, whether they know anything about cars or not.
Now I need to get some miles on it, and loosened up a bit. I haven’t had so much fun in many years


Best regards


John
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Last edited by John R Smith; 12-03-2008 at 09:33.
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Old 12-03-2008   #2
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Picked mine up on Monday too. Glad you're enjoying it. Mine's filthy . . . and it's black which doesn't help!
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Old 12-03-2008   #3
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Just been down to the local car accessories emporium, got some generic car mats for 15, some frighteningly expensive synthetic 5W-40 oil for topping up the engine, but I can't find any of the special red antifreeze for topping-up the cooling system at all. Anyone know a source, or is it back to the dealer?

John
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Old 12-03-2008   #4
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Actually I shouldn't think you'll need any coolant top-up.

The last three new cars I have had have never needed anything other than screen wash and a little oil between services, and the oil only for the first year or so until the engines were bedded in.
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Old 12-03-2008   #5
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Good grief. Things have changed a bit since 1965. I never used to go out without a gallon of water, another gallon of oil, spare plugs, fan-belt, full tool kit (you think I'm kidding, don't you?). Pity, though, I was quite looking forward to tracking down some red Italian anti-freeze. Still, if you say so . . .

John
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Old 12-03-2008   #6
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Glad you two have got your cars and are enjoying them
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Old 12-03-2008   #7
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Great news, I saw a red one today driving along, looked very striking.
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Old 12-03-2008   #8
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Quote Originally Posted by John R Smith View Post
Good grief. Things have changed a bit since 1965. I never used to go out without a gallon of water, another gallon of oil, spare plugs, fan-belt, full tool kit (you think I'm kidding, don't you?). Pity, though, I was quite looking forward to tracking down some red Italian anti-freeze. Still, if you say so . . .

John
I'd still check the coolant every week though, just for your own peace of mind. My g/f's New Bravo's coolant was below minimum after only a week, one of the bolts holding a hose down wasn't secure properly so I tightened it and its now O.K. If it wouldn't have been for that 'fluo red' coolant I wouldn't have seen were it was leaking from
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Old 13-03-2008   #9
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Wet and horrible this morning, with the usual traffic, but after a bit of poodling around to meetings yesterday the fuel consumption is hovering around 40 mpg. This car has some brilliant features, which keep taking me by surprise - if it is raining and you have the wipers on, when you reverse the rear screenwiper automatically turns on, too. Ace. Strangely, there seems also to be a hidden female passenger - every so often she tells me that there is no Bluetooth phone connected. She is a bit of a limited conversationalist, though. The driving experience seems a lot better than the impression some of the road tests give you - yes, the ride is a bit hard and bouncy, but not awful. Handling seems fine in the twisty bits. And I don't find any lack of performance. Even sticking to 4,000 rpm, the little red bambino is a bloody sight faster than our Peugeot 205 1.1.

John
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Last edited by John R Smith; 13-03-2008 at 08:20.
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Old 13-03-2008   #10
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Thanks for all this John...good reviews...It's great to hear about owners' experiences.
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Old 13-03-2008   #11
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

All these little features people are discovering are in fact carried over from the Panda
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Old 13-03-2008   #12
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Yes, I am sure that the Panda is a great little car too. In fact, if you need a bit more practical space than the 500, it looks like a steal at the price. Only snag is - these cars are stuffed full of electronics, sensors, motors, relays and heaven knows what. And the Italians have not had a good reputation for electrical systems. On my old Ducatis and Moto Guzzis, the electrics gave up in the first British winter (this was back in the 1970s, mind you). So I am a bit apprehensive as to whether all this stuff will keep working.

John
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Old 13-03-2008   #13
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Quote Originally Posted by John R Smith View Post
Yes, I am sure that the Panda is a great little car too. In fact, if you need a bit more practical space than the 500, it looks like a steal at the price. Only snag is - these cars are stuffed full of electronics, sensors, motors, relays and heaven knows what. And the Italians have not had a good reputation for electrical systems. On my old Ducatis and Moto Guzzis, the electrics gave up in the first British winter (this was back in the 1970s, mind you). So I am a bit apprehensive as to whether all this stuff will keep working.

John
That's what the warranty is for!
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Old 13-03-2008   #14
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Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Quote Originally Posted by John R Smith View Post
Yes, I am sure that the Panda is a great little car too. In fact, if you need a bit more practical space than the 500, it looks like a steal at the price. Only snag is - these cars are stuffed full of electronics, sensors, motors, relays and heaven knows what. And the Italians have not had a good reputation for electrical systems. On my old Ducatis and Moto Guzzis, the electrics gave up in the first British winter (this was back in the 1970s, mind you). So I am a bit apprehensive as to whether all this stuff will keep working.

John
These reputations are hard to shift. I have run Alfas for the last 9 years and never had an electrical issue. Even the auto wipers on a 156 were still auto wiping 4 years on when I sold the car! Yet still the jibes about rust and Italian electrics stick.

Alfa want to be like BMW but no matter how they improve quality the perceptions have to change which take years and years.

I'll get down off the soap box now

Cheers
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Old 13-03-2008   #15
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Smile Re: My 500 Sport is on the road

Baldrick

Of course I am sure that you are right, and that things have improved greatly over the past thirty years. Some of the British electrical bits were not that great in the past, either - remember AC-Delco distributors? As far as the warranty goes, that's all very well, but I might want to keep the car longer than three years, you know. The fact remains, that the more bits there are to go wrong, and the more complex the car management systems are, the higher the probability is that something will fail prematurely.

Still, the little red whizzer is all systems go at present, despite running in torrential rain all morning. I have to say that expectations for a little family runabout do seem to have changed a bit over the last few years. Nowadays you could hardly class the 1.4 500 as a "hot hatch", more a tepid one, however looking at the performance figures I can see that it is actually quicker than my old Jaguar Mk VIII, quicker than a standard MGB, and even as quick as an Austin Healey 3000. All of which were thought of as sports cars (or at least, sporting saloons) in their day. I think my old 1966 Mini-Cooper (1340) was possibly a bit quicker up to 60 mph, but it ran out of chuff after 80 whereas I have a feeling the 500 will keep on going. I am quite looking forward to getting a test drive in the Abarth, when that arrives in the UK - I am sure that the nice man at Vospers will let me have a go, despite my all too obvious advancing years.

Still, for the moment this is radical enough - the car, despite its electronic sophistication, does feel quite raw to drive. It bounces around over poor roads (but holds a good line), the little engine snarls quite aggressively when you give it a footfull, and in sport mode at least it does not want to cruise, it just wants to go faster. The brakes are very sharp (I have found myself consistently over-braking), and it turns-in like a Jack Russell after a rabbit. Consequently, it is not a terribly relaxing drive, at least not on a very wet day in our twisty lanes. However, it does feel safe, and so far it has not given me an anxious moment.

John
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Last edited by John R Smith; 13-03-2008 at 16:25.
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