Small cars are enjoying quite the run these days, even in we-love-our-big-sedans-and-SUVs-North-American markets.
Small cars are efficient, their styling often breaks free of the jellybean mold and, above all else, they’re inexpensive. I mean, when you can provide a brand new car for less than 10 grand, as Nissan does with the Micra (that’s Micr-A, not Micr-O), well, you’re going to get some looks.
So that’s all well and good. Trouble is, while manufacturers can control the build of a small car, it’s harder for mankind to control the build of a person. So what about the taller folk? They want efficient and affordable motoring just as much as anyone else, but can it be had? Can taller people really live with the new small urban utility vehicles, the roadsters and the hatchbacks that continue to proliferate manufacturer’s lineups?
With that question in mind, we’re launching the Big Guy, Small Car series, whereby our resident big man, Dan Heyman (all 6-foot-3 inches of him) sees what spending a significant amount of time behind the wheel of these vehicles is all about.
When it comes to small city cars, the Fiat 500 is kind of the quintessential vehicle of the type. Yes, the Smart ForTwo’s been around for longer, but the practicality, driving comfort and even the powertrain options it provides have been usurped by the 500. Not to mention the 500 is a revival of an Italian original that helped popularize this microcar segment along with the original Mini.
The car seen here is the Turbo model; you can also get a base 500 with a 1.4L naturally aspirated MultiAir powerplant. Or you can go the other way and opt for the Abarth version, with its Fire TurboJet turbo four-banger that’s good for 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque, which compares to 135 hp and 150 lb-ft in the Turbo model seen here.
That’s the nitty gritty. But what we ask here today is: while vehicles like this are great city options on the surface, are they really livable? Do you have to be a pint-sized person in order to drive a pint-sized car? That’s what we’re here to find out in this, the first entry in our “Big Guy, Small Car” series.