Everything a girl needs to know about cars
FIAT 500 City Car Review
Gemma Masini
November 15, 2017

City cars can be a minefield, do you go for sexy, pretty, functional, electric, hybrid, petrol, diesel, manual, auto, auto parking???? The options are endless and so are the prices!

I live in Nice in the South of France, parking is next to impossible, especially at my kids school and congestion is ridiculous, particularly in the high summer season when the tourists (quite rightly) flock to enjoy the Cote D’Azur. Here a city car really is the ultimate choice and so I jumped at the chance to test drive as many as possible before settling on my number one choice, the iconic Fiat 500.

Let me begin superficially, because quite frankly looks do count, especially when taking into account the history of this pocket sized Italian beauty. Originally launched after the §twar in 1957, as a cheap, functional and economic car in Italy. For the petite (9 feet long) design with the 479cc two cylinder engine we can give thanks to the designer Dante Giacasso whose original design appealed to men who liked to ‘ogle women’ as they got out of the car with rear hinged doors (dubbed suicide doors). The rear mounted engine aided the agile maneuverability of the original models and its affordability and economical running costs helped it to secure its place in the hearts of the people. When production stopped in 1975 the Fiat 500 looked to remain etched in our hearts and memories as simply a part of iconic Italian heritage. However fast forward to 2007 and the re-launch of a retro city car.

Dante Giacasso’s original design has been somewhat preserved in the modern version of this little mouse with the original curvature particularly visible from the front and the sloped rear that now features more modern square lights but with a characteristic retro feel.

Aesthetically this car has it all, it has beautiful curves, streamlined and finished well with a choice of 70’s style alloys or a more modern tyre with the renowned Fiat 500 logo concealing the wheel nuts, and inside the dash and digital displays are pleasing to the eye, functional and all is user friendly. The interior dash is painted to match the exterior color and is rounded with classy chrome casing.

The Fiat 500 offers a spacious ride, with plenty of leg room for all, even in the back which is a pleasant surprise for a two door city car, adults can ride comfortably in the back without feeling cramped, even without the front seats pulled to the most forward setting. There is more leg room than the mini and incidentally more boot space too, enough for a medium sized suitcase although do not expect to get a push chair in easily.

The driver position is relatively high, personally i prefer that for my road car to the go kart feel of the mini where you are close to the chassis. The car handles particularly well and recent models have seen a vast improvement on the turning circle and weight of the steering and handling. It corners well, is light and reasonably economical but do not expect to win any awards for acceleration and power, this is a 2 cylinder car and although you do not feel like you are driving a tin pot at all, power is relative.

This is a quirky, fashionable and comfortable 4 person car with good reliability and affordability that holds it’s value. It’s a 9 out of 10 for me.

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Birmingham revealed as ‘the worst city to drive in’
October 30, 2016

MotoringResearch.com have reported the results of a survey that reveals Britain’s worst city to drive in. And some people might be surprised by the results, as most would automatically assume the title would go to London.

Infact, Birmingham was revealed as the worst city to drive in, probably not helped by the fact that Spaghetti Junction was described as ‘traffic hell’.

London wasn’t close behind, with 21% of the vote. This was followed by Bristol (17%), Liverpool (15%) and Cambridge (14%).

MotoringResearch.com also reported that George Charles, spokesperson for the website that conducted the survey, said: “Driving in a new place for the first time can always be a daunting task, but no more so than when your route takes you through Spaghetti Junction, or into a long queue on the M25 while trying to manoeuvre your way around London.

“It’s great to tackle these though, and not let the fears and worries put you off. Always keep alert, stay fully focused on the road and what’s going on around you, and where possible have a sat nav installed to help you navigate the lanes and turnings.”

The survey was carried out by VoucherCodesPro.co.uk and the full article can be found here –


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Most popular European holiday destination to hire a car: revealed!
October 23, 2016

Mallorca has been revealed as the most popular holiday destination in Europe to hire a car.

Traveldailymedia.com have reported the results of this survey and also published the table below, which handily tells you the average cost that you’ll pay in petrol or diesel while on holiday.

Mallorca was closely followed by Milan, Rome and Barcelona as the most popular destinations to hire a car abroad.

Country Petrol (€) Diesel (€) Average (€)
1 Mallorca 1.13 1.03 1.08
2 Milan 1.45 1.30 1.37
3 Rome 1.45 1.30 1.37
4 Barcelona 1.13 1.03 1.08
5 Pisa 1.45 1.30 1.37
6 Porto 1.45 1.21 1.33
7 Marseille 1.28 1.15 1.21
8 Gran Canaria 1.13 1.03 1.08
9 Lisbon 1.45 1.21 1.33
10 Faro 1.45 1.21 1.33

The full article can be found here –


And finally did you know driving abroad…
In Scandinavia it is illegal to drive without headlights on, even during the day.

If you wear glasses and you plan to drive in Spain you’ll need to carry an additional pair.

Whilst in Germany it is illegal to drive without winter tyres at certain times of the year!

In Russia, if you see people walking along the side of the road, don’t be tempted to give them a lift to the next town, it’s forbidden to pick up hitchhikers.

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Our biggest driving abroad fears: revealed!
October 16, 2016

Do you drive when you go abroad? If so, what’s your biggest fear about it – if you have one?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a survey has found the biggest fear of Brits driving abroad is driving on the wrong side of the road. Express.co.uk are reporting that 26% of participants of a recent survey said that this was their biggest worry.

22% also said that they were worried about not understanding foreign road signs.

4% of people said that they’d been involved in a collision abroad and 3% said that they had been the victim of road rage when driving abroad.

Additionally, and rather worryingly, 30% of motorists who were questioned for this research didn’t know the emergency telephone number, should trouble arise when driving abroad.

If you do hit trouble abroad and need urgent assistance, you should dial 112.

RAC European Breakdown spokesman Simon Williams said: “On the face of it there may appear much to be concerned about with about driving in Europe, but in reality many of these worries are easily overcome through some simple preparation and research. Driving on the wrong side of the road is perhaps the most obvious concern which is probably far more likely to happen on a quiet, deserted country road than it is on a busy town or city road”.

“Interestingly, the RAC European Breakdown survey found that more than a third (37%) of those questioned hadn’t even driven in Europe with 18% of those admitting to feeling worried by the thought”.

“Accidents can and do happen on roads abroad but they are probably far less frequent than many would imagine. Should you be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident or even witness one, it’s vital to know the right number to call to get help so it was very worrying to see that more people were unaware of the 112 emergency number this year than they were last year when 38% knew the correct answer.”

RAC European Breakdown carried out the study, and the full article by Express.co.uk can be found here –


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Are BMW motorists the worst drivers on the road?
September 18, 2016

Who do you think are the worst drivers on the road? Grimsbytelegraph.co.uk are reporting some very interesting findings to answer this question.

Apparently, BMW drivers are the worst motorists in the country, according to 60% of people who were questioned for this research. 8% of those surveyed thought that Renault drivers were the worst and 6.3% said Audi drivers.

BMW motorists were seen as ‘dangerous’ and ‘aggressive’.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, Boy Racers came out as the worst type of drivers on the road, but pensioners and white van drivers got a mention too!

Nearly 10% of women who were questioned for this research said that they would get rid of driving licences for pensioners.

The findings are according to Jennings Motor Group Driving Survey and the full article at Grimsbytelegraph.co.uk can be found here –


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Survey suggests UK Motorists enjoy car journeys to Europe
September 12, 2016

Express.co.uk are reporting that nearly two thirds of UK motorists like car journeys to Europe, because of the lack of congestion on the roads abroad. And one in five drivers said that they enjoy driving abroad because of the roads being better quality than in the UK.

74% of respondents said that there was less congestion when driving in other countries, and two thirds of people said that fuel is cheaper abroad.

But it wasn’t all positive news. Nearly half of participants didn’t feel that there was any difference in the quality of service stations between the UK and the continent.

And 80% of those surveyed said that they thought there were less potholes on foreign roads compared to the UK.

RAC European Breakdown spokesman Simon Williams said:

“Europe is clearly a big hit with British motorists, as the quality and traffic-free nature of its roads make for a marked contrast with our own.

“The cheaper price of fuel is also very welcome, and even though we are currently enjoying an extended period of lower prices, the level of tax we pay to the government always limits how far pump prices can fall when the cost of oil is low. In Europe where fuel duty rates are lower the price of petrol and diesel is noticeably cheaper.”

The survey was carried out by the RAC and the full article can be found here –


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Should heavier penalties be given to drivers using disabled parking when they shouldn’t?
September 3, 2016

According to the mirror.co.uk, last year, 12 million motorists left their vehicles in restricted areas and picked up a total of £80m in fines. But what do you think the consequences should be for motorists who use disabled parking spaces, when they shouldn’t? According to a recent survey, most of don’t think that the penalties are high enough.

Actually, some motorists think that cheats who park in a disabled, parent and child or a Doctor parking space when they shouldn’t, should be hit with penalty points and not just fined.

Apparently, most drivers who broke the rules said that they were only parking there because it was for a short amount of time and that they didn’t think it mattered. One in five people surveyed said that they parked there because it was the only space available. And one in ten said they broke the rules because they didn’t have time to find another space. Some drivers even said that they didn’t know the parking spaces were out of bounds.

The research was carried out by Churchill Car Insurance and the mirror.co.uk reported on the results. The full article can be found here –


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Most of us don’t know what to do when encountering a funeral procession on the roads
August 26, 2016

Driving can be tricky at the best of times, but do you know what to do when encountering a funeral procession on the roads? It seems most of us don’t know what to do for the best, according to recent research.

The Express has reported on some research by Wilcox Limousines. The study showed that 91% of British drivers don’t know what to do when encountering a funeral procession. And when British motorists were asked if they understood what good funeral cortege etiquette was, 51% said no.

Express.co.uk reports that Paul Wilcox, the CEO of Wilcox Limousines, said: “Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon today for people to have next to no idea about the proper etiquette that’s required when passing a funeral procession.

Knowledge of the etiquette near a cortege has been lost over the years
“I think this is probably a generational thing. There seems to have been a significant shift over the years away from people being educated on the rules of funeral etiquette. In previous years, etiquette was much more prevalent, but it seems that today, the knowledge is slipping away.
“In the fast-paced world that we live in, people tend to be in a great hurry to get to where they need to be. And whilst funeral directors can certainly appreciate this, does it hurt to slow down for a few minutes out of respect for a life once lived?

Drivers should put themselves in the shoes of a grieving family
“The only certainty in life is death and it’s something that will happen to all of us and indeed, to family and friends. Put yourself in the shoes of a grieving family. Would you like a beeping car horn or an aggressive overtaking manoeuvre to interrupt your mourning if you were in their place?
“We hope that our pointers will help inform people as to how to be respectful when they encounter a funeral cortege in the future.”

You should turn off any in-car music when a cortege passes

Wilcox has suggested a five-point etiquette guide for road users on how to behave when encountering a funeral procession.

1. Always grant a funeral procession right of way when driving.
2. Funeral corteges move at a slow pace, but you should never overtake or cut into a procession.
3. If using a pelican crossing as a pedestrian, wait until all the vehicles in the procession have moved on before using it, to ensure you don’t break or disrupt the cortege.
4. Be respectful, so turn off any in-car music when a cortege passes.
5. If you happen to be working at a roadside, try to bring all work to a temporary halt as the procession passes.

The complete express.co.uk article can be found here –


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The AA warn of the dangers of never checking your tyres
August 21, 2016

How long has it been since you checked your tyres? Days? Weeks? Months? Maybe years or never at all?

The AA are warning motorists about the dangers of never checking your tyres. Apparently, over one third of call outs involve illegal or dangerous tyres. And by not checking them regularly, motorists are putting their lives at risk. It doesn’t take long to check them over and you should get into the habit of doing this regularly, not just before a long journey.

Car maintenance always seems daunting at first, but follow our simple tips and you won’t go wrong.

Ensure that you check the tyre pressure regularly, ideally every month. Over and under inflation of tyres will affect performance and may potentially mean that the car is unsafe to drive. Put simply, you risk losing control of the car if the tyre pressure is incorrect. Infact, low tyre pressure may increase fuel consumption. Refer to your handbook, or often there is a data panel inside the drivers door frame showing the recommended pressures. If you do need to alter the pressure, make sure that the car is cold.

It’s impossible to generalise here but note that the tyre inflation guide may give different pressures, either front and rear, of for different driving tasks, eg towing or very fully laden, so pay attention to these guides they’re there for your safety, and the handling of the car especially in an emergency could be compromised. If you’re going on a family holiday fully loaded with people and luggage you may need to adjust for that trip alone.

Look for any wear and tear on all tyres and also regularly check that the tread has not fallen below 1.6mm. This is a legal requirement and shouldn’t be ignored. It goes without saying that you need to replace your tyres immediately if the tread is below the legal limit. Falling foul of this means a fine and points on your licence.

If you look on the groove of the tyre there are intermittent ‘bump stops’ every so often – if the tyre is so worn that these are level with the top ridge of the tyre it certainly needs replacing.

Fit new tyres to the rear of the vehicle (don’t forget that if you’re only changing two tyres, it’s possible to shift the older tyres to the front if you need to). The front tyres wear quicker and in difficult driving conditions, such as wet surfaces, it’s harder to control a car with tyres that are damaged at the rear of the vehicle.

Try not to make any sudden breaks or drive erratically as this can cause significant, unnecessary damage.

When replacing tyres, keep the same type and size throughout (refer to your handbook). If you’ve time, try contacting different retailers and online in order to get the best price. You can haggle, but ensure that the quote that you’re given includes the fitting.

If your budget can run to them it is worth buying winter tyres which have a much more aggressive pattern (See picture at the top of this guide) than normal road tyre and swapping them out during the summer, though you’ll need somewhere to store the spare tyres when you’re not using them. If you live in a hilly or rural area where there is little gritting taking place they are especially worthwhile.

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Some modern cars are so complex, mechanics can’t fix them
August 6, 2016

Have you ever taken your car in to a garage to be repaired and felt that the mechanic didn’t actually know what the fault was? Some worrying recent statistics shows that your instincts may have been correct.

According to The Auto Express Driver Power Survey, modern cars have become so complex that some mechanics don’t know what’s wrong with the car in order to get it fixed.

When drivers were questioned for this new research, a third of them said that when taking their vehicle to be fixed, the experts couldn’t find the problem.

Apparently, 30% of faults are now because of electrical problems, and they can be difficult to locate.

But other issues were raised in this piece of research too. 25% of participants said that their calls to the garage were unanswered, and 11% thought that the staff weren’t courteous.

14% of people surveyed said that they didn’t feel that any problems with their vehicle were properly explained to them.

50,000 motorists were surveyed for this research.

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