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BARCH WORSE THAN ITS BITE (some text hidden)
BY ANDY ENRIGHT
Introductionword count: 148
The Fiat Barchetta has never been a popular sight on British roads, largely due to the fact that it is only available in left-hand drive form. Look beyond this and you'll see a capable, attractively styled and well-engineered little roadster that's more practical than many of its competitors. Based on proven Fiat Punto mechanicals, the Barchetta is also quite reasonable to run. With the explosion in popularity of affordable roadsters, the Barchetta was somewhat steamrollered in the sales charts by the Mazda MX5, Rover MGF and BMW Z3, and has possibly suffered due to the fact that it shuns the 'purist' rear-wheel drive layout; its power going to the front wheels instead. The market that the Fiat has aimed for is more bar society than pure sports and it fills this niche quite well. A used Barchetta makes an interesting buy, and may cost less than you think.
Modelsword count: 8
Models Covered: 2dr roadster 1.8 petrol, [base LE]
Historyword count: 172
Looking at the Barchetta's stylish lines it's hard to believe that it has been on sale since 1995. Perhaps because it looks like a more modern interpretation of the Alfa Romeo Spider, the lines look familiar and rest easily on the eye. Some companies made a fair amount of money importing Barchettas to these shores at prices that undercut the UK list by quite a margin, whilst others offered right-hand drive conversions for the standard car. The Barchetta has remained largely unchanged since launch. In 1998 a special edition 'LE' model was made available. One of the upsides of the Barchetta's unspectacular new sales is its exclusivity. It's unlikely anyone else in your street will have a Barchetta, a statement that would be difficult to make about the MX5 or Z3. In summer 2003 Fiat announced a revised Barchetta with more equipment, a restyled nose and, most importantly of all, £2,800 wiped off the asking price. Residuals for 'old' Barchetta took a consequent duffing. The Barchetta faded from the scene in 2006.
What You Getword count: 285
The Barchetta is a stylish, sweet handling and reliable car. With prices that are eminently reasonable and styling touches that are deft and distinctive, the Barchetta has become popular with urban dwellers looking for a sports car that's a bit different. In town, the left-hand drive, position is a positive advantage, meaning you can enter and exit from the kerbside. The chief downside, overtaking, is rendered less of a problem if the car spends most of its time in cities. Equipment on the sole manual transmission model offered isn't lavish, but does include all the bare necessities, although carpet in the cabin wasn't part of the definition. Power steering is a useful feature for parking in tight spaces, and the height adjustable steering wheel allows good access for drivers of all shapes and sizes. Anti-lock brakes and a driver's airbag provide additional safety, while security comes via a Fiat CODE immobiliser, central locking and a unique RDS stereo. For anyone who wants more creature comforts, there's an optional Comfort pack, which inevitably adds to the price, but includes little luxuries such as central locking, electric aerial and mirrors, front fog lights, a leather interior and passenger airbag. While some rivals are of limited use for everyday activities, the Barchetta is practical, with a boot that's large enough for a couple of weekend bags. The manually operated hood is quick and simple to operate - flick open two catches to open the hinged metal tonneau on the boot, push the hood back into it and it's stored safely and neatly out of sight. Similarly, all the interior controls are stylish and easy to use though the slimline door handles can be a bit fiddly to operate.
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