Cult Cars Road Tests

Fiat 500C Road Test

Time 12 years ago

fiat500c1A Fiat with a waiting list? You bet. That’s the measure of success earned by the funky 500, which is sold in 51 countries and has won over fans in every one. Fiat’s take on the MINI is more than up to the task.

Now it’s established, Fiat’s expanding the range. First key addition is an open-top version, which dealers have welcomed in the height of summer.

They’ll be less delighted to quote a £3,000 price premium over the standard car, particularly when, in all honesty, the giant fabric roof is more of a huge sunroof than a ‘real’ convertible.


But, don’t worry. Fiat car buyers will still adore it. Here’s the magic of the 500 – it’s utterly beguiling anyway, and that’s only enhanced by folding back the 500 C’s Citroen 2CV-style roof. Twisting a knob varies the opening position: even cooler is swinging it fully back via the remote key.

It makes the car’s other trump card, a fantastic interior, even more appealing. Elegance abounds, rather than the glitzy bling of the MINI, while canny use of exterior-coloured plastic is extremely pleasing.

As a small city car, it’s cramped in the back, of course (although the fabric roof does mean boot space is unaffected, even roof down). But, up front, the comfortable seats offer bags of room, making it feel plush and grown up.

FUN TO THRASH

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It’s no performance car, of course. We tested the base 1.2-litre unit, which produces just 69bhp. However, so willing is the little motor, this actually proves fine – it’s eager, free-revving and a lot of fun to thrash. Similarly, the handling is also entertaining, despite steering that lacks feel.

fiat500c2Just avoid speccing demonstrators with the large alloy wheel options. These spoil the ride quality substantially.

Let customers do that instead: the range of choices available on the 500 C is literally huge, and include a deluge of body colours, alternative roof finishes, seat trim variations – and that’s all before you get onto the stickers, the bodykits, the equipment upgrades…

Yes, it’s quite easy for car buyers to spend an absolute fortune on a Fiat 500 C to their exact wish-list. And this is just what Fiat car dealers find people do (and never mind the waiting list).

Many are even billing it as a city car for Ferrari buyers, something that canny Ferrari dealers are enhancing through smart courtesy car use.

The £11,300 500 C is a car we like enormously and we can completely understand where they’re coming from. With an ultra-convenient roof that can’t offer full drop-top thrills but does counter with practicality, we reckon it’s pretty much spot on. Dare we say, Bravo, Fiat?

by Richard Aucock

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James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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