Test Driving: Keeping it Gucci

A Chinese woman looks at Fiat 500 co-designed with fashion house Gucci car on display after a launching in Beijing, China, Thursday, April 19, 2012. Automakers are bringing SUVs and luxury sedans designed for Chinese buyers to China's biggest auto show this year as they scramble to keep sales growing amid a slump in this giant market's once-explosive demand. (AP Photo/ Vincent Thian)

Test Driving w/ Tia

Welcome to Test Driving. I’m S. Tia Brown, a Senior Editor at JET. As a seasoned journalist, life coach and licensed therapist, I’m going to test drive something new every week and give you the lowdown. Buckle up. 


I’m really not a label whore — OK, I do have one LV logo bag — but besides that I’ve lived a relatively logo-free existence. That’s probably why I was less than enthusiastic when my friend and colleague, Marielle Bobo, Style Director for Ebony magazine, told me she wanted us to test-drive the new Fiat 500 Gucci Edition. The image of Jennifer Lopez body rolling (remember her commercials) could not get me past one thing: the car is the size of our office’s front desk area!

Still, I couldn’t deny it seemed like heavenly intervention when we happened to be gifted the vehicle the same weekend as Diversity Affluence’s Brunch in the Hamptons. So we rolled. Sunday morning arrived, and we’re parked in front of my Brooklyn apartment trying to figure out directions to the venue. I’ll admit it; I was embarrassed…initially. I mean, I had to fold all 34 inches of leg — I’m 5’8 and lanky folks — into the front seat. And the car, while cute, was shorter than the motocycle in front of it.

Then I noticed something. Our Fiat, yes, it was ours by then, didn’t rattle or roll when the city bus passed by. I think that was the predecessor to my first full exhale.

S. Tia Brown poses in the Hamptons during her test-drive with the Fiat 500 Gucci Edition.

My next realization? People were looking at us. First, I assumed it was because one could have been halfway thru a sitcom before Marielle, clad in my favorite dress from Tracy Reese’s Spring 2012 collection, and I, looking Sunday fresh in a JAX special (same effect, different price tag) figured out the directions/TomTom and how to work the car’s ventilation system. But it wasn’t. They were ogling the car! Now that made me smile… and realized that the Fiat 500 didn’t feel or look like a clown car. Yesssss.

On the road (it was a two-hour trek, mostly highway) the 500 handled like a midsize vehicle. Its pick up was sick. Most important, that non-rattle effect lasted even with the big body trucks, semis and bulking sedans cruising past us at 85 mph. In fact, the only time I remembered the car was pint sized was when it was time to park— no trunk, so it was super easy.

Then there was the Gucci factor. Fiat did a good job of giving the ride just the right amount of accents— striped seatbelts and convertible top only— to remind folks about the designer without making the vehicle feel like a blatant ad. I liked its subtleties more as the day progressed because I actually forgot the car was Gucci’d down to the socks during most of the time we had it.

Overall, I say the car is a cool find, particularly for a city slicker or someone who travels solo, or with one other person, and with a light load— though it does seat four. I wouldn’t recommend the car for a weekend trip with multiple pals because the trunk space is limited. However, it is perfect for a day trip.

The Fiat 500 starts at $15, 500.


To find out what’s happening with Tia, follow @tiabrowntalks on Twitter.