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A section devoted when deemed necessary to cars the engine capacity of which does not exceed 1,000 c.c.

THE N.S.U. 1000L

N.S.U. of Neckarsulm are in a strengthening position in the German Motor Industry, for the Wankel rotary engine is a technical achievement of great merit and with the introduction of the 4-cylinder transverse-rear-engine air-cooled N.S.U. 1000 this long-established company has moved into the family-car market.

I have always had a warm regard for N.S.U.s and the N.S.U. 1000L lives up to the reputation they have earned, with a delightful gear-change, the little central lever having shorter movements than the twin-cylinder models, the exterior paintwork and interior finish being just as commendable, and the acceleration from the new 996-c.c. 43-b.h.p. o.h.c. engine impressive. The N.S.U. 1000L is a quiet car up to 65 m.p.h., but becomes too noisy above this speed, making Motorway cruising tiring. Another deterrent to continual over-70 m.p.h. motoring is the front-wheel shake which intrudes if bad surfaces are encountered. The suspension is excellent at absorbing shocks but becomes too lively over bad surfaces. Stalks control lamps-dipping, lamps-flashing, and turn-indicators, and there is a full horn-ring, sounding a horn which might have been inside the car.

Reverse is none too easy to find. There is very reasonable luggage space in the front boot but, unlike the compact Wankel, the engine occupies a lot of space and nothing else can share the rear boot with it. Perhaps because it was so new, the bonnet and boot-lid releases were stiff to operate. The fuel tank is at the front, its filler neck being of transparent material, which obviates overfilling. The fuel gauge indicated that refuelling was desirable >after 233 miles. The front wheel arches intrude, resulting it off-set pedals, but the seats, upholstered in p.v.c., are pretty comfortable. The big unseparated press-button minor controls are “nimbly.” A combined rubber press-and-twist button looks after washers and wipers.

Road-holding is good but sidewinds provoke wander. The rear seat can be folded to give additional luggage space. Altogether, N.S.U. should be pleased that they have entered the family-car field with such a lively, well-finished and smart, if square-rigged, little car, which contrives to sell here for under £700 including tax.

The consumption of Premium petrol was a useful 35.6 m.p.g. and no oil was added in 600 miles. The fuel tank gives a practical range of 231 miles without running dry.—W. B.

FIAT 500D—Second interim report

Following the first interim report on the Fiat 500D published in June. I had intended writing a full-length article about the car I have had on long-duration road-test. But there is really nothing much to say, because this staunch little car just goes on and on without doing anything out of place, fitting unobtrusively into the family scene. It is ideal for local journeys, for shopping in congested areas when it is so easy to find a slot in which to leave it, and my daughters think nothing of driving it, laden to the sunshine roof, as far afield from Hampshire as Wales and Scotland. These little cars are sometimes referred to as seating two adults and two children but I have frequently seen five teenage girls accommodated not too uncomfortably, and neither engine nor suspension complain.

It is such fun to row along, beating casually-driven big cats on pick-up, that I use it with relief in London and found nothing incongruous in returning the road-test Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III to Conduit Street, proceeding to my eldest daughter’s flat in Weymouth Street, where the 500D was parked at a meter, with acres of space all to itself, and driving home in it—from 6.2-litres to half-a-litre within the hour!

Practically nothing has gone wrong since the throttle-cable broke and nothing that hasn’t been mended without tools. For example, the n/s. screen wiper blade went berserk but was pushed back in place and hasn’t slipped since. The engine went onto one cylinder; cause, a broken connection in the TV-suppressor in one h.t. lead, mended with fingers and thumb. The pedal-rubber came off the clutch pedal, but was put back by a strong-fingered friend. Nothing else has gone wrong, in months of hard usage. The sump-level so seldom requires attention that I can believe Shirley Lowe, the Sunday Mirror Weekend Girl, who says her Fiat 500D didn’t need any oil for a year. It is significant that a magazine devoted to the Volkswagen recently spent nearly 2 1/2 pages praising the little Fiat.

And it is pleasing to learn that Fiat of Turin have no intention of discontinuing their brave little car. Indeed, it is now being sold in Italy with forward-hinged doors and a bigger windscreen.

Humble the Fiat 500D may be but I rate it amongst the World’s most accomplished designs, yet it is the least-expensive 4-wheeler you can buy in Britain—in spite of Import Duty the Fiat 500D sells for £77 less than a Reliant 3-wheeler!—W. B.

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