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That’s what you’re going to get when you rip the roof off a car and replace it with a canvas top in a supposed attempt to purport historical significance.

01 Jan 2010

The concept of the new Fiat 500C, if you know your Fiats well, isn’t new at all, of course. It renews faith for those who love that 13 hp 1957 convertible that had the same full-length top that folded itself into a cute pile of fabric, just like it does now.

So it only seems logical to have the 21st Century version of the 500 peel-away top retain its pillars and roof rails, just like in the original. So you would have realized by now that this has resulted, in comparison with obvious rivals, in a 500C that is less open in concept.

It also looks like a car ready for the fairer sex. Approaching two girls in an attempt to get them to "drive" for the 500C’s photo-shoot was never easier.

So yes, like any officious bystander, I, the layman on the street, will predict that a huge, 75 to 80 percent of the Fiat 500C's customers will be female. That, or a very confident, self-assured heterosexual male who puts his hand in his wallet for one.

But don’t be saddened just yet - there are lots of other advantages to be had, really. For one, the 500C body’s structural integrity is preserved to a great extent, and for a small car, it scores a full five-stars in Euro NCAP tests, just like the standard Cinquecento.

The 500, as with recent offerings such as the Punto, Bravo, Stilo and Chroma, has a reasonably high standard of interior fit and finishings.

Take for instance, that the electrically operated fabric roof is fully lined and houses the useful heated rear window.
The rear seats will fold forward in standard fashion, and everything else is pretty much on par with the standard 500 in terms of equipment and how things work. The boot is acceptably spacious for a car that size.

But the amount is so slight; you would probably not notice it anyway. In the back also finds you an anti-roll bar that iron's-out the car's ride.

This, as part of Fiat's ongoing process to improve the 500 as its production life progresses.

The electrically powered steering wheel has been the focus of attention amongst the 500's latest improvements.

Our test car came as part of the "new and improved" batch of Fiats that promised "change we can believe in."

It came with a 1.4-litre petrol engine that spins 100 bhp at 6000 rpm and a muscular 131 Nm at 4250 rpm, complete with an equally muscular-sounding exhaust, suggesting that Fiat tuned it with maximum aural pleasure in mind, no pun intended.

Driving Impressions

But first, one has to get the commanding driving position out of mind, especially if you’re coming from the relaxed, sedate driving position of a saloon.

Once you’ve got yourself settled into the snugly seats, you'll find the 500C to be very eager, responsive and quick enough for something weighing around 1000 kilograms.

A "sport" button on the dash noticeably increases throttle response, and with it turned on, the car accelerates strongly through the gears, and even though 11 seconds to the 100 km/h mark might not be something to rave about, consider that it pulls relentlessly way past legal limits.

And that’s helped along by the much welcomed "duologic" self-shifter that somehow does the trick in making the 500 smooth as it is quirky.

It shifts quicker, and only demands that you momentarily lift your foot off the gas pedal before continuing forward in the next gear, so as to avoid that dreaded forward "jerk."

It offers a level of performance that’s equivalent, if not slightly faster than a Mini Cooper convertible.

Therefore, if you’re choosing between these two in terms of speed, you’ll be turning your head slightly more in the direction of the Fiat.
In-line with the aforementioned, ongoing set of mechanical improvements, the 500C handles just as well, if not a little better than the normal 500.

The slightly soft suspension and light steering suits the breezy mentality of the 500C, while this electrical unit feels more connected to the road, although still lacking in terms of absolute feedback.

Predictably, it matches the MINI in terms of cornering feel and performance, although once again, it’s that dull steering that decreases confidence, even if both cars match head-to-head in the bends.

Calm things down though, and the 500C can actually turn into a relaxing driving experience. We found it to possess a minimal amount of scuttle shake, along with an exceptional level of climate and comfort with respect to noise, vibration and harshness.

Fiat’s aerodynamic research has paid off when you’re on the move with the roof fully extended downwards, and you can expect minimal intrusion of sorts, including rude litter and windshield wiper-fluid attacks from green-eyed neighbours during your daily course of motoring in your Cinquecento.

Would you buy one?

It also costs $105,900, $4000 less than the bigger Peugeot 207cc and a whopping $25,000 less than a MINI Cooper Cabriolet, with both cars being full-on drop-tops instead.

But we’d like to think of the Fiat 500 as a car with its own character with its own following. It's quirky and full of individuality, with big buttons inside that scream "press me!" and a white panels on the dash that beg for whiteboard markers to be used on them.
Garnish with the creamiest-looking leather steering wheel that I’ve ever seen, and you actually start to rationalize where and why your hard-earned money’s about to disappear when you sign on that dotted line.

Oh, and by the way, I’m a straight, non-metrosexual male who likes my beer cold, soccer every night and girls stark-naked and oiled on my work-bench for explicitly obvious reasons.

Car Information

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors
Fiat Cinquecento 500 Convertible 1.4 Lounge (A)
Rate it


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Engine Type


4-cylinder in-line

Engine Cap





75kW (100 bhp)



131 Nm



6-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption


16.6 km/L

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