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Fashionable Fiat 500C convertible cute, cheerful and full of character

PUBLISHED: 14:13 13 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:13 13 July 2018

Fiat 500C convertible is the height of fashion and fun to drive and live with. Picture: Fiat

Fiat 500C convertible is the height of fashion and fun to drive and live with. Picture: Fiat

Fiat

The Fiat 500’s been around more than a decade in its current form – a tough show for any small car, let alone a niche, fashion-conscious model. Tom Wiltshire drives the convertible version of the latest facelifted model.

Fiat 500C convertible's fabric roof panel slides back. Picture: FiatFiat 500C convertible's fabric roof panel slides back. Picture: Fiat

It can be quite difficult to take yourself seriously behind the wheel of a car like the Fiat 500C. With its pastiche retro styling, full-length fabric roof, tiny dimensions and eye-popping colour schemes, it stands out.

Regular small updates mean that while there have been few major alterations to the 500 since it launched in 2007, the current car looks rather different to the original while still instantly recognisable.

Looks and image

Interior styling is as charming as the exterior. Picture: FiatInterior styling is as charming as the exterior. Picture: Fiat

The latest 500 facelift was the most comprehensive, with a raft of styling revisions, the most obvious smart LED daytime running lights and new ring-shaped LED tail lights. Inside, there’s a fresh five-inch touchscreen infotainment system and full LCD instrument display option.

The engine line-up was revised to improve economy and emissions while extra soundproofing to improves high-speed refinement.

Cute proportions and retro styling are key selling points, appealing without being a total caricature, and a wealth of customising combinations.

Driver information all in one cluster . Picture: FiatDriver information all in one cluster . Picture: Fiat

Under the bonnet

The test car’s TwinAir engine is one of the most interesting on sale. It’s just 875cc, and only two cylinders, but a turbocharger means a respectable 105bhp. Best of all is the TwinAir’s soundtrack – metallic, thrummy and charming – it sounds like an old motorbike.

It offers decent efficiency but you’re unlikely to see anywhere near the official 67.3mpg Fiat states – expect low to mid 40s.

Other engines are an 85hp TwinAir and a 69hp 1.2-litre non-turbo petrol, both also offered with semi automatic transmission.

How it drives

Quick steering, a high-set seating position and tiny dimensions make it effortless to slot through traffic and round tight bends. The convertible model just makes it even more fun.

The more powerful models are decent fun on twisty back roads, too, with tenacious grip so they make surprisingly rapid progress without a fuss.

Long-distance cruising isn’t so great – a short wheelbase makes for a bumpy ride and firm suspension ensures you feel every expansion joint on a motorway.

Space and comfort

You sit high, and the driving position’s not ideal for taller people, but the interior styling is as charming as the exterior. The rounded dash comes in a variety of shiny finishes, and a myriad of seat upholstery options allows you to make your 500 your own.

There’s decent space for two up front but the back seats are only suitable for children. Boot space is limited to 185 litres and access is compromised in the convertible with a tiny pop-up lid and very narrow opening.

Final say

As far as small cars go, the 500C is behind the pack in terms of practicality and equipment, but makes a lot more sense as a fashion statement.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Hatchback from £11,615, convertible from £14,265

Engine: 875cc, 105hp, two-cylinder turbo petrol with six-speed manual gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 10 seconds; top speed 117mph

MPG: 67.3 combined

CO2 emissions: 99g/km

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