So far, the 1.4-litre turbo engine is coping well with the capital’s stopstart traffic. Yes, there’s some turbo lag, but it doesn’t detract from the driving experience. And once the Fiat is on the open road, it just feels that bit nippier than the MX-5.
There won’t be much clear tarmac on this trip until I reach north Sweden. Traffic is bad and it takes three hours to reach Folkestone, only to discover a train has broken down in the tunnel and I’m facing a big delay.
While I’m sitting in a queue with the roof down, a McLaren suddenly pulls up in the next lane. I can’t work out which model it is from side on, but its driver isn’t sure what I’m in, either. He’s off to Mönchengladbach to drive flat out on the autobahn, which I suppose is what McLaren owners do.
Unfortunately, industrial northern France and Belgium don’t pass in a flash and it takes nine hours to make Amsterdam by nightfall. I encounter McLaren man again in a traffic jam near Antwerp. The congestion is so bad that somehow I’ve made the Dutch border ahead of him.
I imagined Amsterdam on a Friday night would be less than sober. Instead, I find a city of calming canals, cobbles and cyclists. There’s hardly any traffic and those pedalling give hand signals – most unlike London.
It’s 8.30pm when I finally pull up at the hotel, but it isn’t cold until I slip off the heated seat. There have been a few showers en route, but my hat isn’t not even wet. The cabin is a cosy little nest, although tall drivers and those with a wide girth might not agree.
There’s barely time to enjoy a passing narrowboat the next morning before I have to load up and head for Hamburg. I’m not sure how the Fiat will fare on the high-speed autobahn, but it holds its own at around 95mph. The heater is powerful and I can still hear the Bose sound system.
A couple of the speakers are hidden in the headrests, which is clever. Less ingenious is the infotainment system. It’s exceptionally user-friendly, but I don’t understand why the 7.0in screen can’t fold away to give the dashboard a clean look. The rotary control dial is also set a few inches too far back on the transmission tunnel. My left elbow has accidentally activated the menu page several times already, putting Ingrid to unnecessary work.
The traffic jams continue for the rest of the morning. The only form of transport moving slower than me in Hamburg is a monster Triple E supertanker, moored on the River Elbe. I stop to buy fuel and German sausage. The Spider is averaging 37mpg. It’s another five hours to Copenhagen, but at least the scenery is improving.
The Danish capital has a nautical vibe, but today the sky is grey and rain is falling. I’m a big fan of crime drama The Bridge. It’s not just detective Saga Norén’s 1970s Porsche 911 but the bleak scenery that adds to the atmosphere. I can see the towers of Øresund Bridge rising out of the mist and decide to rise early the next day to drive the five miles across to Sweden.
Twelve hours later and the weather hasn’t changed, so I point the Spider north and cross the freezing straits to Malmö. You might think Sweden has some of the safest roads in the world, but drivers are allowed to use mobile phones to talk and text – as long as it isn’t detrimental to their driving. It’s a grey area but, even in bustling Stockholm, everyone is at it.
In the more remote parts of the country, telephones are a vital piece of safety equipment during the winter months. Studded tyres are allowed from October and everyone carries a candle – to provide heat if the worst happens.