Is the Mini Cooper too well engineered and roomy for your liking? Do you hate engine performance and love a car that starts to rattle ominously at 40mph or when you attempt any kind of acceleration? Are you a hero in a tween movie who likes a kicky-cute little car that suits the same lifestyle that also includes bright colors and a jaunty hat that shows the world your bubbly personality? Then does FIAT have a car for you. Fiat is a well known acronym (Fix It Again, Tony) but my travelling companion found a new one, which I am not happy with but sharing anyway - "F(redacted slur against homosexual men) Italian Automotive Travesty".

You will delight in a plastic, Ikea-looking duo-tone exterior that tries to hide the cheapness of the construction, while the barely functional vehicle electronics considers  a CD player the quintessence of high tech options - as the top of your head rubs against the cheap packing-material felt of the roof. If you shift in your seat, the whole car moves over half a lane - which makes it fortunate for you that you barely have the room to do so. The eight inch tires squeal alarmingly when you remove the parking brake on takeoff. And there's more storage capacity in Mother Theresa's birth canal than the trunk - and she's dead.

Moving in any way in the driver's seat causes another hazard, namely that the Fiat engineers have kindly put the shift knob right in the middle of the dashboard, where either front passenger can catch it with an elbow or a knee, making it very very very crucial to keep still. If you were hoping to move around a bit to avoid cramp or deep vein thrombosis then forget it.

It has only ONE redeeming value: when you get to the airport and they inform you that this "compact car, seats four" is actually "sardine can with lawnmower engine, seats one and a half" it's a relatively easy upsell for only $15 additional a day for an actually functional car. Which means yet more airport taxes to pay, because even though you paid airport taxes on the original rental up front, any change means you have to pay that $70 in taxes and excise again.

If you decide you've had enough with being sodomized by the airport system and decide to suffer through driving this car out of pure burning hatred and spite, there is one redeeming value. It positively SIPS gas, to the point where you actually wonder if the gas gauge is broken.

Apparently there's a "souped up" version of this, with a name borrowed from a Norwegian Death Metal Band. The "Abarth" has a higher sticker price to reflect the radical engineering improvements on the original, namely the addition of a logo featuring a striking scorpion - which makes it absolutely in no way a stripped-down, barely driveable pile of Eurotrash crap but instead a stripped-down barely driveable pile of Eurotrash crap with the kind of cool logo that a middle school kid would have designed.

Apparently "dragon holding a sword with biceps and a tattoo" was already done by Trogdor, so a scorpion it is.

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