Tracy Ferguson spends a week in the gorgeous Fiat 500 by Gucci

Last month we ran a competition to test drive a Fiat 500 by Gucci for a week. We catch up with the Winner, Tracy Ferguson to find out just how the week is going

Day 1

It’s very weird to try and tell people you’ve won a week in a car. If you start off by saying you’ve won “a week” they immediately think you’ve won a holiday and if you say you’ve won “a car” you have in both cases to quickly qualify the sentence. Notwithstanding the initial confusion, once I had explained to family. friends and colleagues they were caught up in my excitement. 

 After behaving like a teenage girl at the Fiat dealership it was off with the car. I was nervous. I know it should be just about driving another car but I’ve had my own car for 150,000 miles. today was like taking a new lover who is too pretty, too young, too stylish and Italian and dressed in designer clobber to boot. For a 42 year old mother of a 5 year old this was scary glamour on a big scale. Don’t get me wrong – I have a fantasy of my own self – but it’s a different story when the fantasy threatens to come true.

The first leg of the journey was to get from the Naas Road to Mullingar where I got to spread the first sprinkle of the Fiat 500 joy on a friend. I was beaming when I pulled up and showed off the wheels and the Gucci gold-flecked paint and she texted me after to say that the happiness was infectious. The Fiat is small on the outside but roomy inside and with a big heart and the motorway was the perfect way to test the car’s speed and zip. The car has  throttley noise that lets you know you are woman and engine together and it’s quite pleasant. Once the iPod was plugged in and I could sing along to the great stereo sound I was a happy driver for the next 100 miles of my journey to north Leitrim/south Donegal. I made one last stop in Carrick-on-Shannon and this is where I got my second taste of Fiat fun. This car makes people smile: an elderly gentleman in a very beat up banger that seemed to be full of lawnmower parts started waving at me as I pulled out from Carrick-On-Shannon. I couldn’t resist rolling down the window and telling him that I had only won it for a week. “Oh. It’s a beautiful little motor. What make is she?” he asked. You just never know who’s going to love Gucci! On to Tullaghan and Bundoran in the morning.

 Days 2 & 3
Once back home it was time to introduce Husband No 1 and 5 year old to the new Italian lover. Husband no. 1 is impressed by the interior styling and is surprised by how much room he has in the front. My 5 year old loves the seat belts and his booster seat fits in perfectly. We have no problems getting in and out even though we’re used to 5 doors.

 

On Saturday we take a spin down through the back roads of north Sligo near Streedagh and Raghly to call in on my sister who is visiting from Dublin. There is much oohing and ahhing over the car and we get photos posing with sunglasses. The roads on the way are scenic but narrow and slowing down to pass another car or tractor gives us a giggle with everyone eye-popping at the car. I take my sister in to Sligo town to catch the train and then do a few stops to pick up stuff for the house and there is no problem with putting the collections in the boot. The rest of that day is spent with family and beeping at everyone on the street that we know when passing through Bundoran.

 

I have some work to catch up with on Sunday morning which includes dcollecting and dropping off documents. I am parked up a side road to the Promenade when 4 surfers pass by. They make no secret of examining the Fiat 500 and the Gucci branding and are delighted when I offer them a chance to really see inside the car. Catching up with friends later on Sunday the Fiat gets more photos taken and a few more spins. I take a good friend of mine out to Mullaghmore and we agree on how the car makes us feel very glamorous, young and single. We park up on the shore overlooking the small harbour and once again I am struck by people’s willingness to talk to us in this car. Another elderly gentleman approaches us in the car smiling and asking questions. The Fiat 500 is definitely an icebreaker.

 Day 4
Reality bites and it’s back to work. I had planned to take some time off but it doesn’t always work out like that. Lots of congratulations and good wishes from friends and colleagues and all looking to get a good nosey round the car. Up and down the street the Fiat 500 gets lots of attention and smiles. The Gucci branding raises eyebrows.

 Kinlough village, three miles from Bundoran in neighbouring Co. Leitrim is home to the Michelin starred Couthouse Restaurant run by Piero Melis, originally from Sardinia. I thought he would enjoy a spin in the car so I pop down the road. Bringing a Fiat 500 to an Italian evokes nostalgia and Piero regails me with escapades of his in an original version and talks about the engine being in the back and the boot in the front. Wishing me well to drive I’m  off again and back into Donegal.

 It might be worth pointing out at this stage that I have driven over 460 km (286 miles) and the first leg of the journey from Dublin to Mullingar I wasn’t on Eco setting. The tank of the Fiat 500 takes 35 litres (9.25 gallons) and it’s only now that I’m hitting the last quarter on the petrol gauge. That’s approximately 17 km to the litre or 40 miles to the gallon. I’ll recheck these figures again going back to Dublin on eco all the way.

 

Days 5, 6 & 7
 
Not much chance for a good run in the car as work takes over for the rest of the week. To the envy of many people my work is only 2 miles from my house so I’m not putting a strain on the meter this week but I do take more spins in and out than normal so I can enjoy the car. I suppose being at work and and keeping the routine is not very romantic but it tests the mettle of the Fiat. Would you take a new lover to the recycling or to pick up the dry cleaning in the first week? Sadly, all these tasks have to be done even in the throes of a new romance. I can tell you that even grocery shopping takes on and added element of frission when you bring a little Gucci.
 
On Wednesday evening I involve the car in a little community development as I take some friends of mine out for a spin. The ladies are delighted to be driven to their community work in such style and there is plenty of laughter. I also added a bit of spice to the deli counter where I usually buy my lunch by taking the women who make my lunch for a trip around town. Windows down, music blaring, we are behaving like teenagers rather than middle-aged women. The car continues to get plenty of attention and smiles.
 
 
On  Thursday I really do have to collect some dry cleaning. There is a handy hook in the back of the car and I don’t even see my jacket hanging there while I’m driving. I have a minor panic when I see one of the warning lights illuminated on the dashboard. I’ve been more careful than usual with this car as I know it has to go back and the little red warning sends me into tailspin – metaphorically of course. When I get back to the house and check it appears the boot may not have been closed properly so calm is restored. Another feature of the dashboard is an alert to tell you when to change gear. A triangle pointing up or down and the word “Shift” appears when the car thinks you  ought to change gear. At first I thought the Fiat was being inconsiderate of my married status and telling me to get out there and go for it again but than I realised what the car was really telling me to do!
 
On  Friday, husband No.1 and the five year old head off to Dublin for the weekend. They’re going to catch the Tall Ships and watch Donegal against Cork in the Semi-finals. With an evening to myself I head off into north Leitrim for the scenery. This car may be designed with the city in mind but it is a beautiful run around in the country too. The steering is responsive and it takes the hairpin turns with gusto. I discover late on Friday evening that my mother-in-law’s car has broken down. The rest of the family are encouraging her to buy the Fiat! Now that’s a mother-in-law with style.
 
 
Although I’ll be sad to say goodbye to the Fiat 500 Gucci I’m really looking forward to the long drive to return it.  I’ve enjoyed this car best on the open road: the throttley sound of the engine and the ease of speed and the glorious stereo system. In town, this car is a talking point and it’s definitely easy to meet people driving this car. I wish I’d had it when I was 25.
 
Penultimate Day in the Fiat 500 Gucci
Ok Folks, all good things must come to an end and it was inevitable that the Italian and I were not going to make it to a long partnership on this occasion. Time to go out in style and give the Fiat a taste of Ireland to remember me by. Also to really test its mettle on the open and not so open road. 
 
I left north Leitrim at 11:15. The booster seat had been removed and a smart jacket hung in the back. 2 and a bit hours later I’m in the midlands getting a taste of the fine weather and some of what Meath and Westmeath have to offer have for Heritage Week and their scenery. Let’s hit the road.
 
First stop is Lough Derravarragh where the Children of Lir where stranded as enchanted swans. My heart takes a more than a little leap here and it’s not because of the scenery but rather the grass in the middle of the narrow road and the thick brambles on either side. Unscathed, we make it to the lake where some pleasure craft are enjoying the water. I think the Fiat 500 Gucci and a speedboat make perfect James Bond companions. Back up the borreen and on to Loughcrew Cairns and Slieve na Calliagh (Hill of the Witches). We can’t take the Fiat all the way but the OPW guide gives us a wonderful outline of the story of the cairns and the tale of the witches. Apparently 17 counties are visible from the top of the hill and there certainly is a spectacular view fitting for a bittersweet goodbye.
 
I get into another bit of trouble on my return drive when I take a different road only to meet a 1992 Mercedes whose driver refuses to back down, forcing me to reverse gingerly back up the road. I should have got a good Mediterranean temper up but it is Sunday and the sun is shining and all ends well eventually.
 
 
Next stop is the gorgeous monastic village of  Fore which has seven wonders including a tree that won’t burn, water that doesn’t boil and water that runs up the hill and a funky Fiat in front of medieval ruins. I’ll be back here even if I won’t be back in such good company. After my minor tribulations at the other sites I’m relieved the parking is easy and the Fiat can be turned on a sixpence as the saying goes.
 
It is at a final stop for coffee that the Fiat works its magic again. We pull in to Tullynally Castle outside Castlepollard to the tearooms at the castle for a well-deserved coffee. This is a gorgeous spot and I ask the tearoom manager if we can drive into the private courtyard for some photos. Permission granted I drive through the castle arch and then the fun starts. The manager and the staff come out for a goo and then some customers join us. They are all intrigued at how I’ve won the car for a week from WomenforWheels.ie and everyone has a look inside. One of the castle residents has spotted us in the courtyard and comes out to investigate telling us this is her dream car.
 
 
She really must love it because she can’t even bear to take me up on the offer to sit in. Another feisty gentleman tells me I’m completely mad to be driving this beautiful car for just a week and regales me with tales of woe with hire cars and lorries full of gravel. As I only have a few hours of Fiat fun left I choose to cheerfully ignore these tales and keep my fingers firmly crossed until the car goes back. Thank to the staff and management at the Tullynally Tearooms for their cheerful and genuine interest.
 
So, how many people can you fit into a Fiat 500? Quite a lot if you’re open to the interest it seems. Fun with a capital F.
 
Thank you Wheels for Women.ie and Thank you Fiat Ireland. 
 
 
 
25th August, 2012 

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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