There’s something very appealing about the way the Fiat 500C drives. Yes, it’s rough and ready, but it’s also very exciting, and it has a tearaway spirit that will appeal to those who want something that feels like a bit of a hooligan.
The trouble is, it feels like a hooligan all the time. Even when you want to drive in a calmer, more relaxed manner, the 500C is still bouncing all over the road and parping away with its throaty exhaust note. All of which is forgivable in a hot hatch, but in a fashion-conscious convertible like this, it feels just a little bit gauche.
Throw in its higher cost and smaller interior, and the Fiat has to lose out to the Citroen DS3 Cabrio here. The DS3 isn’t perfect – that boot is pretty useless, for one thing, and for another, it doesn’t feel quite as rabid as the 500C.
For all that, though, it’s still very entertaining. It just delivers its thrills in a slicker, more polished fashion – and as a result, it’s far more pleasant to drive when you’re simply nipping into town or cruising along on a sunny day. It’s also more spacious, more grown up inside, and cheaper to run. It is the more rounded convertible, in other words, and the fact you’ll pay less to buy it seals its victory.
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1st – Citroen DS3 Cabrio
For Smoothness; composed handling; cheap to buy
Against Narrow boot opening; higher service costs
Verdict The best blend of fun and usability
2nd – Fiat 500C
For Great engine note; sharp handling; fashionable image
Against Sensitive brakes; harsh ride; noisy
Verdict A riot to drive, but not so relaxing to live with
Specifications: Citroen DS3 1.6 THP Sport
Engine size 1.6-litre petrol
List price when new £19,675
Price today £8500
Torque 177lb ft
Top speed 132mph
Fuel economy 47.9mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 137g/km
Specifications: Fiat 500C 1.4 T-Jet Abarth
Engine size 1.4-litre petrol
List price when new £16,000
Price today £9000
Torque 152lb ft
Top speed 128mph
Fuel economy 43.5mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 155g/km
Price today is based on a 2013 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
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