I spent all of last week using a Nokia 130. It is a basic old school mobile phone. Talk, text, torch. My normal smartphone, the HTC One M8S,suffered a workplace accident and was out of action while the nice people at Fun Max, Galway Shopping Centre, sourced a new screen. The Nokia was a shock to the system. It seems I have become damn near dependent on my touchscreen, technology packed, always online, HTC.
I missed Facebook and Donedeal and WhatsApp and the ability to save a message as a task so I would remember to reply. My apologies to the people who I neglected last week. Several times, I was disheartened to realise I had no camera handy. I didn’t miss the short battery life, but I suppose that is the price you pay for all the good stuff. Well, that and about €400. The Nokia 130, by comparison, is available for just €29.99. A mere 7.5% of the cost of my HTC. That very small outlay gets you a device with many days of battery life, a reliable means of verbal and electronic communication, a calendar, and an embarrassing ringtone.
Which brings us to the Fiat Panda. For just 7.5% of the cost of a new Ford Mondeo 1.5TDCI (€27,750) you can have a 2006ish Fiat Panda 1.2. About two grand will get you a good example of the Panda. The new Mondeo is all the car the average person needs. It has some seats, a big boot, it is efficient, it will propel you from 0-100kph in 11.7 seconds, and it’s a good looking machine. So what would you miss if you were to use a ten year old Fiat Panda? On paper, the Panda holds its own. Despite having only half the power of the Mondeo, it is only a little slower to 100kph. It still seats five. The load space is obviously smaller than that of the Mondeo, but the Panda is quite tall so it’s still useful.
The driving experience in the Fiat is typical of a small Italian hatchback – rewarding if you are willing to drive without any mechanical sympathy whatsoever. Redline it in every gear and enjoy the busy, revvy soundtrack, as the engine tries to escape its mountings, blasting along at what feels like the raggedy edge. With its skinny wheels, tall leaning body and characterful engine 80kph feels like plenty. The controls fall easily to hand, particularly the gear stick, which protrudes from the dash. It is easy to park. The wing mirrors are a bit small but there is plenty of glass so the blind spots are easily accounted for and the cabin feels light and airy.
So why doesn’t Mondeo man just save twenty five thousand euros and drive a used Fiat Panda? The same reasons I threw the Nokia into the glovebox without a second thought when my HTC was repaired – my smartphone does the same job as the basic Nokia but it does the job so much better. Sure, the Panda will get you to your destination, but in a new Ford Mondeo you will get there better. On a dark wet October evening, you are going to be more comfortable in the Ford. The lights are going to cut through the weather better. The speakers are going to sound better. The ride is going to be more refined. Overtaking will be a viable option rather than an outlandish notion.
Do you know what happens when you are in a professional setting and your Nokia 130 makes it’s woeful electronic beep meep message alert tone? People actually look at you and recalibrate their opinion of you. He has a very old phone. He is not at the races. I wonder if he is simple.
I’m not sure what people think of you if you drive a Fiat Panda. Not much probably.