Small, but So Very Chic
Steve Schaefer, Mon, 29 Apr 2013 04:54:09 PDT
What do you picture when you think about Gucci? I visualize handbags and luggage, but the company offers a wide range of expensive and exclusive items, including watches, jewelry, and clothing that I have neither the figure nor the budget to own. My handsome son sports a pair of Gucci sunglasses that was expensive enough to be a special gift.
To commemorate 90 years of Gucci and 150 years since the reunification of Italy, Fiat has applied the Gucci treatment to their Italian economy hatchback. To distinguish it from ordinary Fiat 500s the Gucci Edition wears the famous name and logo all over it, inside and out. On its petite body, it wears the "Gucci" script on its hatch and along each side below the rear window. Also, the trim is silvery satin chrome instead. The special Gucci White paint on my test car had a distinctive sparkle to it. The 15-inch white alloy wheels carry Gucci logos too. Green brake calipers add a subtle extra touch.
Inside, some of the plastic trim mixes the typical black with some contrasting Ivory accents--giving a light, happy ambiance. The cute little instrument panel features a set of concentric rings with miles per hour on the outside, revolutions per minute inside that, and in the center, the rest of the information. It evokes the simple design of the original 500 of the 1950s and 60s. However, the white steering column does tend to reflect into it, making it hard to see-especially with the top down.
The leather-trimmed bucket seats wear the double-G logo on the headrests and the main seat cushion features a logo-patterned stamping. Tiny armrests fold down and work well for their size. The metallic accents throughout the interior are the same satin finish as the exterior trim. I was especially taken with the Gucci-themed threshold plates with their rows of tiny double-G logos stamped into the metal.
The famous Gucci stripe is apparent on the seatbelts and along the middle of the upper seat cushions. It also runs down the remarkable Cabrio roof. The 500c Cabrio model, in Gucci or regular flavor, features a folding cloth top that, unlike a typical convertible, slides along tracks above the side windows. These stationary side structures contribute significant rigidity to the car. You can slide the roof back a little or a lot, but if you send it back all the way it will block the bottom half of the view behind --so drive carefully. The open-top experience is wonderful, and if you keep the side windows up, it affords some privacy while still letting nature in.
The car is small, and very cute, so you had best think of those back seats as perfect for children and packages from your latest shopping trip. My friend Victoria, who stands 5-foot-2, felt cramped back there.
The Fiat 500 itself is a modest little car, powered by a 1.4-liter, 101-horsepower "Multi-Air" engine. It's EPA-rated at 27 City, 32 Highway (29 Average). I averaged 31.0 mpg--but the fuel filler sign suggested premium fuel! For green scores, all 500s get a 5 for Air Pollution and 7 for Greenhouse Gas--for a SmartWay designation.
You can get a manual or an automatic transmission on the 500, depending on model. The six-speed automatic transmission in my test car shifted later when I selected the SPORT button on the dash, and it felt like the springs and steering tightened up as well.
My tester had the optional TomTom navigation device that plugs into a jack in the top of the dash. I didn't use it, but this method solves the problem of how to add a big screen to a small dashboard.
My test car, as a top level Lounge Cabrio model with the assortment of Gucci extras and automatic transmission, came to $28,850. That's much more than your typical Gucci item, but for a car, it's not that much, really. I got compliments on my cute little ride, but it's definitely not the model I'd own myself. It did prove to be a worthy freeway driver--smooth and quiet--and, if you don't have much to carry, it could serve you well.
If you want the fun of driving your own Fiat 500 but don't need all the bling, the basic 500 Pop model starts at $16,250.
The 500 by Gucci won "Best Small Convertible of the Year" at the "Topless in Miami" event held on June 14 by the Southern Automotive Media Association (SAMA).
Feel the urge to accessorize? Go to Gucci.com or visit your local Gucci retailer and select Gucci 500 travel accessories, small leather goods, drivers, tracksuits, bombers, driver gloves, sunglasses or a watch.