2012 Fiat 500: Word to the Wise
August 01, 2011
As you can see in this photo taken by Kurt Niebuhr, the Fiat 500's five-speed manual transmission has its Reverse gate situated way off to driver's right. There's also a pull-up ring to "unlock" the R gate. And you need a deliberate hand and, often, a teensy bit of throttle to avoid a slight grinding as you ease into reverse.
This arrangement is slightly unusual among U.S.-market econoboxes, and upon leaving the car with a valet at a local Italian restaurant on Friday night, Michael Jordan and I realized some preliminary instruction might be prudent.
... was what we heard 5 seconds after turning to our back to the car. I rushed back over, eyes wild, and ostensibly, the loud unhappy noise was the result of the valet not having pulled up the ring, maybe? Although (perhaps flustered by the sight of my waving arms), he also seemed not to be pushing in the clutch pedal and I had to remind him to do that, too. Eeek! He apologized immediately.
Still, when we picked up the car after dinner, I said, no, no, no need to bring the car around for us, we'll drive it out from here. It was a small lot, and the car was sitting 50 feet away, so no one raised a fuss.
And this incident reminded of why I usually try to self-park, street-park, whatever-park cars I really like (even if it means walking an extra 10 miles to a Vegas hotel room). Any other valet avoiders out there? Surely, you must be aching to share stories of incredible efforts you've made to keep your car out of the valet lock-up.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 6,318 miles