Hold on, you’re thinking… didn’t you just recently have a Fiat 500L Trekking in on test? We did indeed. And really liked it.
However, part of a job for a client is to assess the Dualogic version too, with a different variant of diesel engine. So, enter this 1.3-litre MultiJet 85hp in gleaming white, complete with the two-pedal self-shifter.
I must admit, the thought of it didn’t fill me with excitement. The 1.6-litre car was great, a real surprise. This one, with 20hp less AND a dreaded automated manual gearbox, would surely be a comedown, I expected.
And so… confirmation of this duly came as I started it up, reversed off the slightly inclined drive and… shuddered all the way up the road, clutch jerkily auto-grabbing and snatching in almost cyclical ineptitude. Into first, eventually (the lever is hardly intuitive) and we kangaroo’d forwards too, until the clutch eventually grabbed.
It was clearly daunted by all this because, despite being in auto mode, it didn’t then shift into second. Now, I’m a stickler for not revving engines when the oil’s cold, but this was a test, so I left it to its own devices. 2000rpm… 2500rpm… gear change? Only at the top of the street did it arrive. Sorry, engine.
It was only once on the highway that things started to irritate me less. Thanks to it being so keen to show me, this engine is actually a very sweet and smooth-running little thing, a likeable motor. The rest of the 500L Trekking is as nice as the other one, of course, while the fact this one lacks the Beats HiFi upgrade of the other one but still has DAB pleased me no end (it’s a £100 option, or as cheap an aftermarket DAB conversion kit!).
And then, in the fairness of the idea behind First 5 Minutes, my first five minutes was up. Crumbs, a mixed bag, isn’t it? Certainly… so come back later to, and here’s a giveaway, find out by how much things improved…