Fiat 500 - showing a gift for style
I SUSPECT we have arrived at that time of the new year when the mound of discarded presents grows in the corner ready to be topped off with this year's failed diet.
This pile will not include the African goat present. The one given to you by Clarissa who thought it would be frightfully proper to sponsor a cloven-hooved walking lunch which you will never clap eyes on and certainly will no receive a birthday card from.
And have you seen what they do with your gift? It is sent to live in a tree because there are only leaves to eat. Perhaps a better gift idea would have been a lawn. Clearly goats living in trees are wrong. Had this been in the natural order of things they would have come equipped with wings and build nests. A position, for good reason, God allotted to birds. Think waste disposal.
You may have wanted a scarf spun from finest banker's bonus but you have a remote control bovidae to assuage the middle class guilt.
Scarves are not my strong suit either. I live in the scarf stone age of a striped college pattern folded in the manner of an unfinished Windsor knot. My scarfism stopped dead in the days of 60s mods. My scarves went from vespers to Vespas never to be seen again
Bringing us to a car that would have rivalled the Lambretta LI as a mod style icon - the Fiat 500.
Yes, yes, I now there was a Fiat 500 in 1968 but this was purely a device to boost Neapolitan health care. It was nothing at all like the stroke of genius that is the new 500.
And in particular the 1,300cc diesel sport. 'Oooh,' you will be thinking; ' a 1,300cc diesel, and called a sport, too. I bet that's about as much fun as flying nubian Billies.'
Well, actually, it is fun. Fun that will also do 67mpg and even if the race to 60mph at 12.9 seconds is more a trot it comes without the clatter of hooves from an utterly sweet diesel engine, a 75bhp turbo unit which has none of the bottom end gutlessness that spoils so many small diesels.
Therein lies one secret of the 500's urban appeal. A city car must be cheap to run if it is to attract the beautiful people. Well it costs £11,000 and with 110g/km of climates is cheap to tax.
Not for one moment am I going to claim this to be the be all and end all of handling excellence. It's not. It crashes and bumps a bit but the ride is acceptable and so is handling.
However the main attraction is just how stylish this car is. And how much better you will feel simply for driving it. Obviously the interior decoration has a youthful appeal but it is comfortable, reasonably equipped and elegant.
This really is a car for people who know the latest way to tie a scarf and have no need to retrieve the diet sheet from under John Grisham. And where more ethical gifts are concerned remember, if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and his trawler will be off Cornwall a week on Sunday.