I couldn't resist getting behind the wheel of the Seicento and giving it a run over this last week to see how it performs as a second or starter car for someone motoring the bangernomics way. I have to say it is actually surprisingly nippy - especially in the lower gears and up to 80km/h.
Hard cornering, should you get too enthusiastic, does result in understeer, but it is easily controlled. The brakes are fine around town, but do require a bigger shove to stop if you are in more of a hurry and are probably the one area I feel the tiny car is a bit lacking, but for town driving they are fine. I wonder how long the pads and rear brake shoes will last for.
So how has it faired over the last week? Well I have covered around 725 kilometres in it already. The good points are that it is acceptably refined for such a small and cheap car, the visibility is ace, it's brilliant in town, surprisingly capable for a longer jaunt providing you travel light luggage wise, it is comfortable (at least in the front anyway), and of course has cheap day-to-day running costs. So far, while not driving it with economy specifically in mind, I have been getting around 5.5 litres/100km (51.4mpg). That's around 32 litres of fuel getting me, roughly, 560-odd kilometres. I hope to improve on this over the next few weeks mind.
While stuck in traffic the other day I noticed the fan was cutting in and out, nothing untoward in itself sure, but considering the Seicento has no temperature gauge I did wonder just how hot it may have been running. Given that these little cars can suffer with overheating issues it's something to keep in the back of the mind. To be sure, and safe, I have keep a diligent eye on the coolant level and have bled the system - an easy task on these with two easy to get at bleed screws in the engine compartment.
The other task to tackle was clutch adjustment. Another common Seicento malady often reported on the dedicated Seicento and Fiat forums are clutches made of paper. Well not exactly, but you get the idea. Clutch cables often go without warning on these too - something else to be cautious of, but a cable is cheap and not that tricky to replace as preventive maintenance.
Thankfully adjustment itself was another easy task taking just a couple of minutes and aided by the masses of space in the engine bay that allows my clumsy hands to wield spanners. I tackled this particular task in the hope that getting third gear without crunching sounds to make anyone wince could yet happen. It's not every time. Just nearly every time. I almost want to shout out the window "It's the gearbox not me!" as people's heads turn as I attempt a third gear change up or down the box. Maybe I should just rev it out in second like a monkey without mechanical sympathy and go straight into fourth...
Anyway, I have adjusted the clutch, and may consider having the oil changed too. If it continues after that - I'm guessing it's a worn synchromesh. I have already seen a Seicento gearbox for sale for €100, same year as mine too, so it won't be the end of the day for the little Fiat if that's the case. The fact that it didn't crunch at all when I checked it over before buying, or for the first week I had it, gives me some hope.
I have booked the NCT for it as well - being able to book in advance of its actual due date is quite handy. Should it fail I will have more than a month to sort out whatever is needed. However, a few checks beforehand should ensure I'm not caught out with some of the more common fail items such as tyres, bulbs and number plates.
I wonder if the other common Seicento issue with the rear brakes will become a problem. Even with the handbrake on a push still moves the car worryingly. Apparently it's due to the cable mechanism Fiat used - and was never brilliant even when new. Now where did I put them good luck charms?
While much of the motoring world's attention will soon switch to Paris for the biennial Mondial de l'Automobile much of Ireland's attention will instead turn to Heathpark in New Ross, County Wexford for the National Ploughing Championships.
The two-day event has grown from strength to strength in recent years and now forms an important part of the automotive as well as agricultural calendar. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will again act as the official motoring sponsor of the event with 15 Amarok double-cab pick-ups on hand to ferry organisers and personnel over the 700-acre site the…
Imagine you are two days away from starting your holiday. A holiday that will see you travel a total distance of over 2,000km in a week. Now imagine returning to your car to find that, since leaving it parked up for just a few hours, someone has reversed into it, smashing a headlight, pushing out the wing and marking the corner of the bumper. Yes, that's how I returned to find the Clio. I probably did use up my vocabulary of expletives at that moment.
With it being a weekend and my departure being…
So did you have a guess at what tiny car the new addition could be?
Well allow me to reveal the metallic silver year 2000 registered Fiat Seicento 1.1 SX. Now many of you will have pre-conceived ideas on these cars, and perhaps Fiats in general. Indeed, back in 2009 I owned a Fiat 500 1.4 Lounge with nearly all the extras. I bought it brand new and while I loved the styling and the attention it got, I felt it was a real disappointment to drive. I sold it on after just two years and never thought I would…