What's the used Fiat 500 sports like?
The Fiat 500C is a city car for those who like the cute retro styling of the standard 500, but with an al fresco twist. You see, the 500C has a full-length canvas top (which replaces the metal roof of the normal car) that can be retracted at the touch of a button. This means drivers who want to savour what little sun we get in this country can do so in their car in seconds.
Open-top city cars are rare. The main competitors to the 500C are the Peugeot 108 Top, Citroën C1 Airscape and DS 3 Cabrio. Like its rivals, the 500C isn’t technically a full convertible because there are still roof pillars in an attempt to maintain structural stiffness.
The entry-level Pop model goes without niceties such as air-con and alloy wheels. If you want those, you’ll need to opt for mid-range Pop Star. Top-spec Lounge cars come with useful extras such as rear parking sensors and extra adjustments for the driver’s seat. There are also a number of special-edition versions that could be worth a look, provided the price is right.
The interior uses lots of bright colours and the dash front is painted to match the exterior colour – all of this makes for a bright and attractive environment. It’s not up to the same quality as a Mini, but it’s in keeping with its rivals. The driving position won’t suit all drivers, since the steering wheel only adjusts for height, not reach.
Engines include a tiny two-cylinder Twinair 0.9-litre petrol, an economical (and noisy) 1.3-litre diesel and finishing with a 1.4-litre petrol. The biggest seller, though, is a 1.2-litre petrol; despite not being the fastest, it is more than capable of keeping up with the cut and thrust of town traffic and is even reasonably refined.
Out on the open road, the 500C can be a bit out of its depth. Wind and road noise make their presence known, although this is true of most cars with a canvas roof. The steering is rather heavy for a small car and it springs back to the straight ahead quite quickly – this takes some getting used to. The ride can be a bit bouncy and crashes into potholes more than it should. Grip levels are good, though, and the car will hang on well in the bends, even if you do take a corner a little too quickly.
But the 500C is most at home at lower speeds on city streets, where its diminutive size makes parking a breeze. Rear visibility can be compromised if you have the top fully down because the folded roof blocks most of your rear vision. You might find it’s better to have the roof partially up because this allows you to utilise the rear window.