Fiat 500 C
By Bill McCarthy
FIAT’S funky 500 is one of those cars that came from left field to become a stunning success.
Much like the tiny original from the late 1950s through to the mid-70s it has appeal in spades, so much so, that it now comes in sporty, longer body and Abarth versions.
But unlike the famous Italian Job film, the sequel is actually better than the original. It has the same retro look of its diminutive predecessor, but is very much a city car of the 21st century, particularly this drop top version.
The retro bubble shape on this model includes high tech additions such as LED lighting and smart alloy wheels and body coloured bumpers.
It is cheap to buy, although the cabrio is quite a premium, is very economical, is kind to environment with low CO2 emissions and is cheap to tax and insure.
An excellent funky city car runabout, that can even squeeze two adults into the rear, just about.
The attraction for many is the funkiness can be enhanced and customised without breaking the bank. But perhaps the most fun is getting the roof down.
Not a full drop top, but more a sliding fabric roof that nestles just above the boot, nevertheless it still offers the wind in the air open road motoring much beloved by British motorists.
The fabric roof slides back in stages via a dashboard button so can act as a sunroof or fold it all the way back to open fully to the elements. It’s great fun.
It is also pretty well equipped, certainly this version, and you can still customise it all you want with various colour combinations and optional extras
The interior is less soft touch plastic finish, more painted dash and cheaper, but still sturdy trim. It does look good with pinstripe fabric seats with leather inserts and circular head restraints, while steering wheel, column and retro stalk controls, plus binnacle surround are in a contrasting white colour.
The dashboard features a five inch touchscreen with this model featuring optional sat nav and Apple Carplay and Android phone connectivity, along with Bluetooth and DAB radio, while the binnacle is dominated by a single large dial.
Electric windows are standard as is air con, central locking and power steering.
It feels surprisingly spacious with the roof down, not so much when in place, but there is no doubt the rear two seats would only accommodate adults in a any comfort for a short distance. More suited to children really.
Boot space is, well, limited to say the least at 186 litres. It looks more like a drawer and opens down because of the fabric top sitting on top. However there is access to the rear once the two passenger seats are folded to give a moderate amount of space.
But that’s not what this car is about. You can get your overnight bag or a couple of bags of shopping, which is mostly adequate.
On the road, the 1.2 litre petrol engine is lively enough from a standing start, but then has be worked pretty hard for any kind of decent acceleration. It takes around 13 seconds to hit the 60mph mark.
Mated to a smooth five-speed gearbox, plenty of shifting up and down is needed, particularly around town. It is economical however with economy of a claimed 60.1mpg, near sub-50 in the real world, and emissions of 110g/km.
Handling is pretty good with the wheel in each corner layout giving plenty of stability and grip in corners. For parking the familiar city button allows the steering to be lightened for those tricky manoeuvres.
Safety kit is comprehensive with seven airbags, driver and passenger airbags, side airbags, window airbags and driver’s knee airbag,stability control and ABS and parking sensors.
Fun, funky, economical and safe. The tried and tested recipe is still a success.
Fiat 500C 1.2 Lounge
Mechanical: 69bhp, 1,249cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via five-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 106 mph
0-62mph: 12.9 seconds
Combined mpg: 60.1
Insurance group: 11
CO2 emissions: 110g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 milesKeywords: