RAC Cars News


Fiat 500 Can Not Get Up Hills

By raccars Published

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The Fiat 500 took a pasting on BBC's consumer affairs show, 'Watchdog,' earlier this month thanks to its inability to climb hills. The model in question is equipped with a 1.2 litre engine producing 69hp, which was revised earlier this year to bring CO2 emissions down to 113g/km, to comply with Euro 6 criteria.

Since then, `Watchdog' has been contacted by owners, claiming that getting to the top of a hill in the car is very difficult, even in first gear, as are hill starts. Owners have even complained that they don't feel safe in the car and aren't confident in its ability to actually reach the top of a hill, having started to climb it. After complaining to Fiat, apparently nothing has been done.

The programme tested the car on a hill with a 10% gradient, with the presenter noting a distinct lack of pull in second gear. 'Watchdog' also submitted the Fiat 500 to a mechanic to diagnose the fault, who found a delay in time between pressing the accelerator and the engine picking up power, making hill starts difficult. Fiat responded to an enquiry by 'Watchdog' by claiming that there are no safety issues with the car.

The Italian firm claimed that after retuning, the car may feel slightly different and take some time to get used to, essentially blaming the drivers, without giving any advice on how they can get over the problem.

'Watchdog' concluded that Fiat should issue a recall for the cars, after discovering that some dealerships have taken back the cars of customers who have complained and exchanged them for other models. 'Watchdog' claims this counts as an admission of a problem. Questioned about this, Fiat's response was that any exchanges are at the discretion of individual dealers and that the firm has received very few complaints about the problem.

Determined to prove its point, the following week, 'Watchdog' called upon professional driver, Ben Collins, famous as 'The Stig' from TV's 'Top Gear' programme, and a stunt driver in James Bond films, to test the 500 up a hill. Entertainingly, the programme's presenter was shown unable to get up a hill to Mr Collins, who instead walked down the hill to meet him. Even more entertaining was that skilled professional driver Collins then had to abandon the same hill, after completely failing to get the 500 to co-operate. Having driven the same car without a problem prior to the engine revisions, his conclusion was that there is now a definite fault and a complete absence of power within the first 2000 revs, calling it practically undriveable.

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