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Old 10-06-2018   #1
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Smile New user with a couple of questions

Hey everyone, I've just joined and was wondering if anybody can answer a few of my questions

I'm taking automatic driving lessons currently (more of a personal preference thing than anything else but that's that), I'd like to get a 500 Lounge model once I've passed - my main concern is, with this model being a semi-automatic, would I still be licensed to drive it upon passing? I've been searching high and low online but nobody seems to have a definitive answer sadly.
I was under the impression that a car with a clutch pedal = manual and anything without a clutch pedal is considered automatic, in which case I would be able to drive it. However, with the option to change gears in the 500 I'm wondering if that would make any difference where the law is concerned. I may be being really stupid here but I just want to be sure before fully committing to getting one.

Second thing - I've heard that the automatic Fiat 500's take a bit more getting used to than your standard automatic, could anyone give me a rough idea of whats different/what to expect? e.g. I've heard some stuff about rolling back and hill starts being more difficult? Again I'm no expert on any of these things, its just what I've read when doing some research.

So if anyone could answer any of my questions/provide any general advice it'd be much appreciated, thanks guys!
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Old 10-06-2018   #2
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

Welcome to the forum

I can't answer your question about license restrictions, but if I had to guess I'd say it would be fine due to the lack of clutch pedal.

Now this is where it gets a bit complicated. Whereas most other manufacturers use torque converters and specialised gearboxes for their automatics, Fiat have basically robotised one of their manual gearboxes. So you don't have the usual 'creep', which makes roll back and hill starts a bit more of a challenge than in a standard auto which always wants to go forwards.

Having not driven one myself I can only speculate on how you might need to change your driving style, but my initial suggestion would be to use the handbrake when stationary for more than a few seconds, especially on hills, to try and prevent the roll back. Apply a little throttle before releasing the brake to engage the robotised clutch and get the car moving forward again.

The best thing to do though would be to go to a dealer and ask if they'll let you try one out, this might be a bit difficult as you're on a provisional license but you may be able to try it out in a private carpark for example.
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Old 10-06-2018   #3
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

As far as I'm aware you'd be able to drive it on a automatic lisence as the car doesn't have a clutch pedal
And they are registered as automatic cars
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Old 10-06-2018   #4
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

Ah I see, thank you! That makes a bit more sense now, I think nearer the time or maybe even once I've passed I'll look into taking one for test drive beforehand. Sounds like things you'd get used to quite quickly but at least now I've got a rough idea of what makes them different
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Old 10-06-2018   #5
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

Awesome, thank you - it does seem like the general consensus is that it'd be fine w an auto license, I just didn't want to have my sights set on one to later find out I'd still have to have a manual license if you know what I mean. Like you said, with the lack of clutch it shouldn't be a problem I guess
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Old 10-06-2018   #6
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

Does the lounge have hill start assistance?
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Old 10-06-2018   #7
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

Silly question? Any reason youíve limited yourself to automatics?
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Old 10-06-2018   #8
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

Yes it is an automatic for licence purposes.
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Old 11-06-2018   #9
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

Hello and welcome to the forum.

Whatever your preferences regarding automatics, and whatever you go on to choose as your first purchase, I'd strongly recommend you take your driving test in a manual car.

Not being able to drive a manual car is life limiting.
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Old 11-06-2018   #10
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

Any car with only two pedals is considered an auto for the licence category.
For a short time BSM used the 500 semi-auto for their auto lessons, and tests in them resulted in the auto only licence being issued.

As said above, they take a bit of getting used to and using he handbrake is essential with any semi-auto unless you like replacing expensive clutches regularly. As also said above, have a test drive before deciding, and try to include at least one hill start.
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Old 11-06-2018   #11
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

Thanks for the responses guys!


I was taking manual lessons for a while before switching over, I was fine changing up in gear but I found coming down in gear whilst breaking, observations etc. quite difficult and the frustration of not getting it right was putting me off altogether. I know a lot of people say it comes with practise, and I'm sure it does but at the mo I'm in a bit of a rush to get my license and am otherwise confident so I thought I'd switch to automatic to hopefully get through it a bit quicker. I will consider upgrading to the manual license a bit later on but for now it's like time is of the essence.
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Old 11-06-2018   #12
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

Quote Originally Posted by J3012 View Post
I found coming down in gear whilst breaking,
Not supposed to change gear while braking. Brake first, early, so you have enough time and space to change gear, then arrive at the hazard all done, with correct speed, correct gear, and plenty of time to scan. Then there will be fewer stops as you'll be able to keep moving having aligned with gaps.

It will be hard work, as it feels like you are slowing too soon, but once mastered will allow smoother safer, and quicker progress. If it is all happening at once, you need to start the process earlier. Choosing an auto may only be masking poor technique.

Find some quieter estates if possible, and go around gently, practising a slower approach, allowing time to get it all done. Stepping back a little to master the basics will help throughout your driving career.
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Old 21-06-2018   #13
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

Hi J3012, I can probably be of some help here. I passed my test last year (aged 32) and learnt in an auto (a Vauxhall). I got my Fiat 500 auto shortly after I passed and have no complaints (as others have said, it's fine for you to drive with an auto license). I live in Somerset, which is pretty hilly, and can't say I've noticed the issue with controlling the car on a hill that others have mentioned here. Gear box seemed fine to me from the start, didn't notice any differences that threw me or made me reconsider the car. Also; I loved learning in an auto - so much easier! Don't let people put you off I passed with zero faults and haven't had any issues in my first year of driving; a good driver is a good driver, doesn't matter what car they're driving.

A few weeks back the car did have a bit of a meltdown accelerating away from some traffic lights (on a flat bit of road) and going into a very steep incline as I turned left, but that's the only time anything like that has happened. It basically wouldn't go above a walking pace, even though I had the accelerator pedal to the floor. I don't really know what happened but if a similar thing happened again I would just manually shift the gears. Something to be mindful of.

I drive around a mix of urban and rural areas and the car handles it all fine. You do "feel the road" quite a bit with it, but it's a dinky car so I guess that's to be expected. You won't be the fastest motor on the road, but if that's not a big deal for you then go for one - they are full of character and really fun to drive! Best of luck with your test!
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Last edited by safflet; 21-06-2018 at 22:13.
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Old 22-06-2018   #14
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

I have to drive automatic vehicles of all marques on a daily basis on account of my job, everything from Mercs to Audis, Fiat 500's, you name it, I drive it, 40 to 50 cars a day on average, 5 days a week. My overall experience of automatics is that whilst they are incredibly easy to drive, it doesn't take a huge amount of thought or effort to sit and operate the stop and go pedals. They aren't in the main, very economical either. Indeed when I have to do a customer or dealership delivery off site and have to travel a considerable distance, I always have to put more fuel in an automatic than a manual car because the autos drink more gas over the same distance than the manual boxes. I also find automatic vehicles incredibly boring to drive. I stress, this is my personal experience of autos, they're just not my cup of tea.

Autos are also more expensive to insure I believe?......
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Old 22-06-2018   #15
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Re: New user with a couple of questions

Quote Originally Posted by frupi View Post
My overall experience of automatics is that whilst they are incredibly easy to drive, it doesn't take a huge amount of thought or effort to sit and operate the stop and go pedals.
Exactly why I liked learning in one; I could focus more on the road than the car.
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