Forget all of your preconceived ideas of a Fiat 500 being a small car – the Fiat 500L is definitely BIG – in fact at traffic lights I found myself looking some 4×4 and people carrier drivers in the eye!
I have always liked the look of the original Fiat 500 (or new Fiat 500 depending on your point of view!) but I was initially not so keen on its big brother. From the outside it certainly bears only a passing resemblance to its smaller counterpart. It is not just a bigger version of the 500 – it has a completely new look of its own.
The sharp colours and funky, modern interior that I absolutely love are still there though, and the 1.6 diesel version I drove was in a great looking bright red with black and red interior. It also has plenty of room inside and, being four door, it was easy to get in and out of and had plenty of room for my daughter’s school bags, sports kits and hockey stick! The touch screen multimedia system made it easy to tune in the radio and simple to connect my phone and iPod. Apparently I could also have checked my fuel efficiency and even see how I was driving and share this via Facebook and twitter (I am not quite geeky enough for that though!)
Being so much bigger I was expecting it to be heavy and a bit slow – on the contrary, I found it to be quite nippy and the steering was really light. The 1.6 engine made it pretty responsive and it went up through its 6 speed gear box quickly and cleanly.
All in all, this car actually won me over. I am not sure that it can ever replace its iconic little brother but if you like the 500 but need a lot more space, than this could be the one for you.
As winner of the Auto Express Car of the Year in 2012 and the What Car? Best City Car in 2013, amongst other accolades, I was keen to test drive the SKODA Citigo to see what award-winning qualities it had to offer above and beyond other small cars.
Overall I was impressed with the SKODA Citigo – the exterior appearance of the car may not be to everyone’s tastes, but inside, the simple dashboard layout and the sporty styling of the seats, gear stick, hand brake and steering wheel with red stitching on a dark background were appealing!
Some people may want more gadgets, but for me, the simplicity was a part of the appeal of the Citigo. There were no fancy gadgets to work out before I could drive away – it was an easy car to just get in and drive with no instruction manual needed!
I found the car comfortable to drive – the gear change was smooth, there was good visibility and the sport style seats meant that I was really comfortable whilst driving. The steering was light and the car seemed to glide over every bump in the road with ease – a very smooth drive! As the Citigo only has a 1 litre engine, I expected it to be quite slow, but I found it to be a nippy little car and handled driving around town with ease!
As I have driven a few other small cars in the past, the Citigo had a lot to live up to, however it compared favourably to the other cars I’ve driven. With low road tax, an economical engine and easy driving, this is an undoubtedly a great choice of small car!
My initial impression of the Peugeot 208 was that it looked stylish – it has a streamlined shape which gives it an almost sporty appearance and I was keen to test drive it.
The first thing I noticed when sitting in the car was that I felt high up, which meant that I had a good view of the road and didn’t feel vulnerable when driving. The speedometer was viewed above the steering wheel, rather than through it which was different to most cars I have driven before. As well as the speedometer, there was a digital display which showed the speed the car was travelling and when to change gear – this was a nice feature of the car and came in handy.
I was surprised to learn that the car had a 1 litre engine, as it felt like it had a lot more power than that- it was a speedy little car and the light steering made it easy to drive. I was also impressed by many of the features that the car had to offer. At the top of the fascia there was a touch screen infotainment system, which had different functions like the radio and travel reports. This really adds a modern and funky touch to the car. The steering wheel had buttons to control the radio volume and I was also surprised to find the car had cruise control!
The front seats were spacious and the windscreen seemed large, giving a good view of the road. The gear changing wasn’t as smooth as some cars I have driven, however I quickly adapted to this and I found that overall the car was good to drive. The up-to-date features were a nice surprise and I found the Peugeot 208 to be a solid car that I felt safe in.
I choose to review the Seat Leon – it is a more powerful car than I am used to driving, but not too intimidating. I also really like the new shape which looks modern and appealing to younger drivers. The FR is a sporty version with a 2.0 litre diesel engine and double exhaust, so it had more power than I was expecting and I really had to watch my speed as it was so easy to go fast!
The interior of the car is smart and sporty; suede leather sports seats with red stitching, which were both comfortable and stylish, a flat bottomed steering wheel and lots of different buttons and gadgets to improve the driving experience – although some of them just kept me guessing!
SEAT Leon Touchscreen Display
The car has a touch-screen infotainment system positioned at the top of the fascia, which is very cool! Different screen options include Radio, Sat Nav, Traffic reports, Vehicle status (which was handy as it told me the windscreen washer fluid level was low) Phone, and Voice. It was easy to work out and even sensed when my hand was about to touch the screen, when extra menus appeared at the top and bottom of the display! Very clever and user friendly.
There is a smaller display between the rev counter and speedometer which shows other useful information like the compass direction the car is travelling in, time, the gear you are in (and should be in) and the connection to your phone (if you have it set up). This display was also handy as it showed if any of the car doors had been left open.
Although it’s not a huge car (which makes parking manageable), there was plenty of room inside to take passengers and it is generous with leg room. It felt spacious inside but from the outside looked like a great medium sized vehicle.
The steering wheel had different buttons on to control the radio and for answering phone calls. The front arm rest and dual-zone climate control make the car very comfortable to drive and even though I’m only 5 foot 4, I didn’t have any issues with visibility or getting into a good driving position.
I would definitely recommend the new Seat Leon; it’s a great looking car with a lot of power behind it and it’s comfortable to drive. It was a very smooth drive and has some really funky features and gadgets that make the car fun and appealing to a range of drivers.