The Fiat 500 has, from its launch in the late 1950’s been a super-mini with an abundance of character, however back then it may not have been classed as a super-mini, as it was, I would imagine the same size as many small cars of the era, it’s just that in recent decades cars have grown to an extent that they no longer fit in parking spaces.
Even the modern Fiat 500 has grown to create a 500L which is a practical 5 door with copious amounts of room inside and from this model came a 500X which put Fiat and its ever so popular 500 into the crossover segment with the adventurous styling and option of four wheel drive.
In the UK, most residential streets will be home to at least one Fiat 500 but you may not realise as they are tiny and could be hidden behind an overgrown bush quite easily, however despite their small size they do have a big personality.
Fiat UK provided us with even more personality than we could have hoped for on this test car as it is the 500C model which offers a sliding soft top, reminiscent of the 1950’s models, only with much more refinement, comfort and technology.
From the outside this Fiat 500C makes a very bold statement with just the paint colour alone, it’s along the lines of Salmon and depending on the light can drop to an orange tone, the actual colour is “Glam Coral” and is a respectable £300 option and I feel accentuates the cream canvas roof very well indeed, if a little Dale Winton.
Whilst on the subject of Dale, the boot offers ample room for the weekly Supermarket Sweep, however for prams or any such large items then this little gem maybe isn’t the most practical. This brings us inside and what better way to view it than with the electric canvas roof fully back to display the colour coded dash with white leather steering wheel, white climate panels etc and grey/red/white tartan with half white leather upholstery.
The 500C comes with DAB, Bluetooth etc and all is operated via a 5” touch screen, however the test model had the TomTom Sat Nav and 7” screen (£600 upgrade) and with USB connectivity etc it offered a simple to use, easily viewed infotainment system that I found was a little bit of a physical reach to use.
At 5ft 10in and 16 odd stone I am most certainly built for comfort and although the 500C offered adequate room for me and a passenger, the front seats would have benefited from more bolster support. As for the rear seating, well with two average height adults in the front, they wouldn’t be much use for anything other than a handbag or small children on a long journey.
Driving the 500C was nothing but a joy, especially on a brisk December day with the roof down and the heaters on inside the cockpit to keep the hands warm, it really was so much fun and created quite some looks when cruising around town topless.
Handling wise, there really isn’t many other cars on the road that can handle just like the Fiat 500, precise, sharp and predictable and it most certainly enjoyed and thanked you for a spirited run, however once out of town and in a bit of a hurry the fuel economy suffered terribly.
This 500C was equipped with the 875cc 2cylinder “twin air” turbo engine which full of charm and character, produces 105bhp in this model and was nippy enough I must admit in such a small body with 0-62mph in 10 seconds, a top speed of 117mph and annual road tax of zero, yes that is correct, free annual road tax.
Economy is claimed to be around the late 60’s on a combined cycle but I found the car with my driving and mostly city and country lane use to be early 40’s. One other thing I did notice is that the fuel tank is very small indeed.
Pricing for the 500C is circa £17k on the road and with the several options on this test model, it comes in at £18.5k which for what it is, I find it a little expensive. One thing that was badly missing from this car, being a soft top, was heated seats.
In saying that I do feel the 500C is a wee gem as stated before and indeed would suit the stylish city fun lover absolutely perfectly and indeed during my week with the car I found it incredibly easy to park in spaces that with most cars I would not even have attempted to squeeze into when in busy towns.
Words & Photos: Graham Curry