By on August 22, 2011

Due to the state of the economy and the price of gasoline in America, it’s no small wonder small car sales are on fire. For those that wish to hide the fact that they have downsized for sensible reasons like lower operating costs, there is a segment of the market just for you: small retro cars. While everyone has tried their hand at this game from Chrysler’s PT cruiser, Chevy’s HHR and the continual resurrection of the VW Beetle, nobody seems to have hit the nail as squarely on the head as BMW with their Mini franchise and their 40,000 in yearly sales. What’s the new Italian owner of an American car company and dealer network to do? Sell a “minier” Mini-fighter of course.

Back in ’68 Fiat had a cheeky little car with some crazy windscreen wipers. While the car wasn’t modern, as Samir Syed found out, it was, and still is a hoot in the Italian countryside. In 2007 Fiat resurrected the 500’s soul by putting a retro wrapper on the Fiat Panda and the result is a city car that, like the Mini Cooper, has grown from the original to more American proportions. Back in 2010 Tal Bronfer got his hands on a European 500C and now that the Fiat has landed on our shores Fiat lent us one for a week on the back country roads in the SF Bay Area.

From the outside, the 500C is certainly a cute little car. Perhaps it’s the size (it’s shorter than a Mini Cooper by seven inches), the round headlamps, or the striking red folding soft top, but I haven’t had this many people point and stare at a car; ever. It even garnered more looks than a Jaguar XKR convertible which was described as “sex in automotive form” by one of my passengers. On my daily commute an SUV full of people on their way to the daily grind practically stopped in the carpool lane (causing major traffic disruptions behind them) so they would all whip out their iPhones and take pictures of the topless Italian puttering along in the next lane. If you like being the center of attention, never has the price of admission been this low. Starting at $19,500 for the “Pop” trim and $23,500 if “Lounge” is more your style, this is significantly cheaper than the Mini Cooper convertible. For those without calculators, this is an approximate $4000 premium over the “regular” 500 or a 26% premium to remove your lid. What if the BMW 3 convertible cost 26% more than the coupe? Oh wait, it does. Why do people complain about the cost of the topless Fiat when the Mini convertible is $5450 more expensive and that’s not a “problem”? The answer of course is: brand. But the plucky Italian has a few tricks up its cheap sleeves to add value to this proposition, is that enough? Let’s find out.

Before we get into comparisons, we must stop equating size with price. There’s a new world out there and with new CAFE rules looming, things may be getting smaller, so deal with it. Of course at $19,500, the 500C is the cheapest four-seat convertible in the USA, so it should come as no surprise that interior plastics are not high-rent. They are appropriate for the price tag however, and vs the Cooper-sans-top, the plastics seem fairly competitive especially when you factor in that discount. I might even say the carpet in the Fiat has a slightly more premium look and feel, but this would be counterbalanced by the hard plastic door trim panels inside the 500’s cabin. Our tester wore red and black fabric with a charcoal dashboard, but buyers can opt for a lighter color scheme with an ivory steering wheel and dash that looks decidedly euro-chic.

All Fiat 500Cs sold in the USA have Fiat’s “Blue & Me” system which combines Bluetooth speakerphone integration with some minor voice control of your audio system. If you were expecting SYNC-like iPod or USB control, you will be disappointed with the strange Blue & Me interface. It’s too complicated to explain in print, if you’d like to know more, check out our TTAC Quick Clips video. Our tester came with the $1,250 optional Bose premium audio package which uses six Bose speakers and a very small subwoofer located under the passenger seat. Bose turns out to be the prefect company to handle the audio for the 500 as the subwoofer performed admirably top up or down. With such a small driver in the sub, I estimate 5-inches, if you are into bass heavy music at ear splitting volumes, install your own beatbox.

Out on the road the first thing you notice about the 500C is the over-boosted steering thanks to the electric assist, the second thing you notice is the grip. The 500 is no race car by any stretch, but it does feel as “go-karty” as any base Mini I have driven. As hard as this may be to believe, the Fiat also honestly feels more refined than any Mini on offer. Unlike the topless Brit, the 500C handles almost identically to the hard top 500. This is thanks to that wacky canvas top we haven’t discussed yet. Instead of chopping the entire top off a 500, Fiat decided to remove the rear window and 98% of the roof leaving the B and C pillars as well as the door frames intact. The resulting ginormous hole was plugged by a canvas soft-top that runs on tracks and collapses like a venetian blind on top of the “trunk”. This almost-topless design results in a stiffer chassis and only a 50lb increase in curb weight over the hard top. Speaking of weight, the way the 500 drives is dictated largely by its heft, or lack thereof; at 2416lbs it is lighter than the 2701lb Cooper convertible and this difference is noticeable out on the road.

When the going gets twisty the 500C gives up little to the Cooper, let alone the Cooper convertible, at a tested 9.5 seconds to 60, it may be slower than the 8.9 we clocked in the Cooper ‘vert, but it makes up for the reduced go with a greatly improved ride and grip. On rough twisty roads the topless Cooper feels less settled and far more flexible than the Fiat (a quality I don’t really seek in a convertible). While the “Sport” button in the Fiat helps firm up the steering, it does nothing for the feel which is the only real niggle I found on my trip down California’s windy Highway 35. Being able to raise or lower the top at speeds of up to 60MPH without skipping a beat on a windy country road made me forgive the steering feel. (At speeds up to 60MPH the top can be opened, and up to 50MPH the top and rear window drop to the trunk.)

Motivation of the 500C comes courtesy of a 1.4L 101HP “multiair” engine coupled to your choice of a 5-speed manual or an Aisin-sourced 6-speed auto. Since peak HP is achieved at only 400RPM shy of the 6,900RPM red line, wide-open-throttle is a frequent and pleasant companion. The need to rev the nuts off the 1.4L engine to extract all the horses and the 98 lb-ft of twist means the 5-speed manual is the dance partner of choice for maximum enjoyment. We can thank our lucky stars the jerky “Dualogic” robotized manual didn’t make it to our shores; instead the 6-speed auto (standard on Lounge models) is exactly what you expect out of a slushbox: early upshifts, smooth gear changes and a not quite as much soul as the manual offering.

Aside from being more “balls-out” fun than the automatic equipped 500, the 5-speed manual also delivery significantly better mileage with EPA numbers of 30/38 as compared to 27/32. In our 880 mile week-long review we averaged an admirable 33MPG average. Keeping in mind my daily commute is comprised of rural mountain highways and plenty of idle time while shooting video and still photos, I came away fairly impressed. A 40-mile highway trip on US-101 in moderate traffic yielded an average of 41MPG. As always, your mileage will vary.

Passers-by first wanted to know what this little rag top was; after they found out it was a Fiat they wanted to know whether it had broken yet. There is the problem; deserved or not, Fiat still suffers from a lingering reliability worry in the US. Almost on cue, the folding top gave us cause for concern on day three. Fortunately, the fix was easy and took only two minutes. Unfortunately, the local Fiat dealer was far less than helpful. Even if the 500C’s reliability is stellar, a poor dealer experience could put a serious dent in the small Italian’s debut on our shores. For those that come after me, here’s the issue. The roof’s one-touch feature would not work, the trunk would not open and the rear defroster wouldn’t turn on. A call to the local Fiat dealer resulted in a most worrying conversation: we were told we would need to bring the Fiat in to have it reset, I asked if I could do it, I was told no. Frustrated, I finally explained I was a journalist and “broken Fiat=bad review.” Information began to flow: all I had to do was to hold the open switch for 3 seconds after the roof had fully opened, then close the roof and keep holding for 3 seconds after it had closed. Viola; the Fiat was back to life but my faith in a quality dealership experience was dashed.

At the end of the week I was sad to see the plucky Italian head off into the sunset. At $21,649 as equipped with Sirius SAT radio, Blue & Me, the Bose audio, aluminum wheels and some red vinyl decals, the 500C is still about $10,000 less than the average new car sold in the USA not to mention $5,000 less than a comparably equipped Mini. While it may not have the value that a new Nissan Versa brings to the table, it is far more entertaining to live with. Until the 500 becomes US mainstream, if you want a high gawk factor for low bucks, the 500C is for now the best choice. Since the original 500 was eventually replaced by the Fiat 126, which looked like an Italian Trabant but was called “progress”, raise some vino to the hopes the Nuovo 500 has a long and healthy life.

Fiat provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Not a fan of our Facebook page? Too bad. For our facebook peeps, here’s what you wanted to know: Chris M: Quite fun, and the mileage is still fairly good while having fun. Chris: The roof is automatic with one-touch. Richard L: No, but I did have an insatiable desire to drive up and down stairs. John L: Yep, the roof stays “folded.” Drew W: Yes, but the chic part is a major attraction. Daniel S: I hate convertibles, but I love this one. Go figure. Anthony G: I wanted more power. Darren W: Got it in one…

Statistics as tested

0-30: 3.0 Seconds

0-60: 9.5 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 17.3 Seconds @ 78MPH

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55 Comments on “Review: 2011 Fiat 500C Convertible...”

  • avatar

    People don’t reject the value proposition here because of brand. Some think it isn’t worth the money because all you get is a big canvas sunroof. It isn’t a full convertible, and cars that don’t offer the security of a hardtop or the open experience of a convertible have always been a hard sell in the US. Think Triumph Stag, Citroen 2CV or Bauer BMW. None of them sold here in real numbers.

    • 0 avatar

      The brands that you mentioned did sell quite well in Europe. Still, I think this 500C will sell nicely in the US in the largest cities and that is because the times have changed. Panoramic roofs are now in style, especially in New York City and other places with very tall building like Chicago, etc.

      Ford and Kia vehicles so equipped already have found a niche. And the niche I see is young women in short short dresses. Unless you have seen a good looking woman in a short short dress crawl out of a Smart for Two, you haven’t lived.

    • 0 avatar

      I guess the 911 Targa was a bit too successful for your list…

      • 0 avatar

        The Targa was another good example. The first 912 Targa had a zippered plastic back window that made them far more open than later Targas, but invited vandalism and break ins. Porsche replaced the vinyl back window with fixed glass to restore hardtop comparable security and expand sales. Ultimately, sales fell off anyway and it was replaced by a full convertible. More recent ‘Targa’ Porsches have had entirely rigid moveable roof panels, showing that Porsche knows what I wrote is true.

        Another good example would be the Jaguar XJ-S. Jaguar introduced the XJ-SC partial convertible with fixed side window frames in 1983. Sales were pathetic enough in the US that Hess & Eisenhardt in Ohio introduced a full convertible to facilitate US sales and then Jaguar adopted the full convertible configuration for other markets.

        Another expample would have been the Lancia Zagato, completely dominated in the market by full convertibles from Alfa and FIAT.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know, I see a lot of 80s and 90s Camaros and Mustangs running around with T-Tops here.

  • avatar

    @ CJinSD… Gotta agree with you. Its either convertible, or its not.

    For a small convertible I don’t see anything out there that can compare with a Miata.

    • 0 avatar

      You know what the problem with the Miata is? Four inches. As in “how much I’d need to shorten my legs by before I could drive it” as well as “how much my spine would be crushed by if it rolled”.

      I’d like a Miata, too, but I’d take the 500 because it’ll fit a few things (like children, or, well, me).

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    True convertible or glorified sunroof?

  • avatar

    I don’t get why the dealer was so hot to have you bring it in. Obviously the car was under warranty, so no chance to soak you there. Is Fiat paying their dealers to hold the sunroof button for a few seconds?

    • 0 avatar

      If they’d brought it in, then I assume their tech would have spent 2 minutes doing that reset procedure, and the dealership would have filed a warranty claim with Fiat for an hour’s labor or something.

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    That really depends on how you define “real convertible.”

  • avatar

    A “real” convertible consists of the following factors:

    The entire top goes down.
    The windows are frameless.
    When the top is fully retracted, the car above the beltline, except for the windshield, is not visible. Period.

    The Fiat fails on all three points. Just a re-iteration of the 2CV and few others.

    Don’t want one.

    • 0 avatar

      Welcome back Zackman!

      Look at what you missed:

      • 0 avatar

        Good Lord! I hope they build it!

        Can’t a guy take a short vacation anymore? I hate missing good stuff like this! That’s really impressive if they build anything close to this.

        Thank you, mazder3!

    • 0 avatar

      This is indeed not a true convertible but it is a clever solution to a convertible’s problems (extra weight, loss of rigidly, etc). When I was a kid we had an old VW bug with a huge rubber sunroof that slid towards the back, like this car. It was really nice! So I don’t revile this approach.

  • avatar

    Tachometer inside speedometer, semi-convertible with fresh to US look. I like it.
    Thanks for a fun review, Alex.

  • avatar

    Alex, oddly, I drove a Fiat Panda (and a Fiat Punto) while I was in Italy on the same trip where the 1968 500 review was born. I had similar impressions as you did upon driving the 2011 500. I’m just shocked at how fun these little FWD hatches can be. Thanks for the shout out btw.

  • avatar

    Of course it’s a convertible. Quirkier, ot of the norm solution, but of course it’s a convertible. Not calling it a convertible is more semantics than reality IMO

    BTGW, great review. Yeah, made me want one. FWIW, in BRazil they don’t offer it yet, but rumor has it, it’s comimg soon. It’s the only convertible I’d ever want.

    Oh, and I”d get the ivory interior. SOme would rathe the black interiorclaiming it’s more sporting. Don’t knoiw why people equate black with sports. Black and grey interiors are, to me, common, drab and sad. The ivory gives it some life

  • avatar

    I found a great deal of that video absolutely appalling. It’s a CAR, not a bleepin’ audio console! Well, actually I think that thing is a bleepin’ audio console that comes with an attached car as a useful accessory should you want to do something like go to work while you carry on a halting conversation with the system so that even after your voice command you have to push multiple buttons on the front and back of the steering wheel at the same time and do lord knows what else before it actually starts playing a song. Whew. I get tired just thinking about it.

  • avatar

    Regal Cielo with a fabric roof anyone?

  • avatar

    A video review on TTAC! Awesome! 10 minutes though is a long time. My A.D.D. kicked in around the 2 minute mark, and I went to the article. Cut it down to 3:05!

  • avatar

    Uh, dudes? Fiat doesn’t call it a convertible. For all you know the “c” stands for cloth.

    Now please get back to arguing whether Green Day is punk rock.

    • 0 avatar


      Rag-tops aren’t convertibles; they’re cheaper and more structurally sound (with the inherent enhanced safety/driver performance over their B/C pillarless brethren.)

      I know most convertible drivers are inherently form over function, but think about it for a second, the only pillar that is literally ‘in your face’ is the A-pillar. So if the choice is B/C pillar, stiffer chassis, and 4 grand in your pocket vs Big-Ass Chrome Pipe sticking out over the driver/passenger, well…

      As I said form over function: the stereotypical ‘chick’ will dig the Herbie the lovebug factor and see past the B/C pillar.

      Contra CJ’s position, I’ve maintained in other threads, and I’ll repeat here: it would be nice to see more econo-muscle cars with rag tops, leave the ‘true’ convertibles to the sedan-Sebring crowd.

  • avatar

    Good review Alex,

    I’m well versed in this FIAT and want one, but want the hatchback for obvious reasons, with sunroof.

    That said, this car follows in the exact footsteps of the original as it was like this to begin with. It didn’t have the hardtop like they do now as they ALL had the cloth folding sunroof.

    The first year or two, the roof DID slide all the way back including the window, but the later iteratiosn had a fixed rear window and it was just a huge folding sunroof instead.

    So in that sense, it’s faithful to the original, just updated.

    As for the automatic, it’s actually a true, shift it yourself slushbox as I’ve read you CAN hold it in your gear of choice until almost redline before you blip the shifter into the next higher gear.

    I’d rather it not have a conventional torque converter, but oh well and most people really love the 6speed automatic for what it is.

    Even with the automatic, if you are not too heavy on the throttle, it can even surpass the EPA estimates for the auto box easily like you can with the manual.

    I’m going for the manual, thankyouverymuch.

  • avatar

    I asked if I could do it, I was told no. Frustrated, I finally explained I was a journalist and “broken Fiat=bad review.” Information began to flow: all I had to do was to hold the open switch for 3 seconds after the roof had fully opened, then close the roof and keep holding for 3 seconds after it had closed.

    Yep, that sounds about right for a dealer service department.

  • avatar

    The dealer experience is what’s going to make or break it.

  • avatar

    Alex, was that Hwy 9 that you were driving in the video?

  • avatar

    This is a cabriolet not convertable

  • avatar

    Seems Alex liked the ride and handling much more than I did.

    I’d like to answer the big question, on reliability. Might have an initial stat with the November update of TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey. Additional participants very much needed for these cars.

  • avatar

    A good review, but I’m wondering if the comparison to the MINI is apt? It’s logical enough, on the face of it, but I wonder if customers are really cross shopping the two cars?

    I wonder in part because the price differential seems important. The MINI runs about 5K more than the 500, whether in hardtop or soft top configuration.

    IOWs I’m thinking a lot of people might give the 500 a look because it’s sticker price is under 16K. If that is their primary motivation, then they aren’t cross shopping the MINI, and they probably aren’t going to spring for the extra $4K for a fidgety cloth top that runs in tracks and will inevitably be a problem.

    I suspect people will cross shop on price, which means they might look at say a Hyundai Accent. They’d be saving $1,300 off the top, and getting a bigger more comfortable car. And I don’t believe most Americans will be quick to disassociate price with size. They’d also be getting Hyundai reliability, compared to Fiat’s reputation -fair or not, the reputation precedes it.

    I have a feeling the 500 will not do well here, and a big part of that is because (most) people are not out to buy a cutesy retro car, but are out to buy value.

    We motorheads think the 500 should be a MINI fighter, but I suspect the market will pigeonhole the 500 very differently than we do.

  • avatar

    I desperately want the 500 to make it here…if nothing else than to change the automotive landscape some. The Mini proved that Americans could (albeit in relatively small numbers) make a leap of faith that small could be accepted and that not all of us aspired to own a Suburbscursion. After having driven a 500 Sport, I’m sorely tempted to consider one seriously when the Abarth comes out. I know, I know…the whole reliability thing comes into play, but I drive 20 miles (at most) a day, plus we have a new Celica (er, I mean tC) that can handle the longer drives. I guess it’s just me having grown up in Europe that doesn’t mind small cars, and actually prefers them. Looking forward to Michael’s input on how well they are holding up. If so, make mine a Rame Copper Abarth, please…

  • avatar

    Before we get into comparisons, we must stop equating size with price.

    Before we get into comparisons, we must stop equating value with price.

    Before we get into comparisons, we must stop equating reality with price.

    Before we get into comparisons, we must stop equating attractiveness with price.

    Before we get into comparisons, we must stop equating convertibles with what you usually call convertibles.

    Before we get into comparisons, we must stop equating this brand’s craptastic history with any Japanese, Korean or American car.

    Before we get into comparisons, we must stop equating usefulness with price.

    Before we get into comparisons, we must stop equating performance with price.

    Before we get into comparisons, we must stop equating resell with price.

    NOW – isn’t this a pretty good car designed by Hello Kitty!?

  • avatar

    Having spent an entire afternoon testing a 500 Sport, I would concur with most of Alex’s review.

    This little car wants to be driven close to redline, and it’s sounds fantastic going up and down with the gears while it’s revving. Coming out of some tight corners and taking some cloverleaf ramps at high speeds the car felt like it was on rails. This car is a blast to drive.

    My biggest complaint was the steering feedback – I would have it in “sport” mode all the time. My wife’s biggest complaint was the odd clutch feel – our tester had more than expected pedal travel, and the pressure point seemed to be quite long. This may have something to do with having driven a manual equipped BMW 335i for the entire weekend prior – the Drier’s clutch and stick are the most precise I have ever used.

    The car’s interior belies it’s price point – it felt quite more luxurious than it’s $25K sticker, and the front chairs were a revelation. It would be cramped seating for 4 passengers, but it’s normally just the two of us on trips, so it’s not a major concern. I will say that our sales person was at least 2″ taller than my 6′ height, and he was able to find a comfortable seating position behind me whilst I was the driver.

    Mrs. Monty was so taken by the little car that she’s willing to trust Chrysler again, and she’s willing to buy a brand new factory order version of the 500C. We’re going to bide our time, though, and wait for the Abarth version with 50% more horsepower.

  • avatar

    About a month ago, I was in Nashville TN. for a family reunion. The hotel we stayed at was having a Fiat convention that week. There were about 15 500’s stationed in & around the front door/lobby. I even managed to talk to a Chrysler VP (for the life of me I cannot remember her name) to some length. She was very enthusiastic about this model.

    Inside the lobby they had a 500 “shell” set up with a 84′ Panasonic plasma (Grand Tourismo take that!) set up as a real life-sized game/driving sim. (I came in second on the eco loop :)) I’m 6′ & about 260. I have an even heavier (& shorter) cousin & we fit in the front seat comfortably. The shifter through was long & the clutch was a little too light for my tastes but it was good enough. For those harping on the canvas top, just get in one, I think you will like the experience.

    The number of paint schemes/custom rims etc on these things are a big plus in my book. Now my next vehicle is going to be bigger than my current Mazda 3, but I will probably test drive one of these just for kicks.

    They just may have a hit on their hands with this one.
    p.s. One of the sales people told me that the USB dock (in the glove box) was standard & iPod ready.

  • avatar

    Any photos of the trunk open and the top down? I’m not asking for much—just the ability to stash a grocery run and/or a few laptop bags.

  • avatar

    I recently replaced my jaguar XType Estate with a fiat 500c Lounge 1.2, why? Because the family did not like the jag and it remained unused at weekends and sat in a company car park during the week. The family love this car!

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Nice review, and I agree with your decision to benchmark this car against the MINI. Regarding performance, if I’m not mistaken, the MINI with the base motor (no turbo) takes considerably longer than 9 seconds to reach 60 mph.

    The one thing I think you should have discussed was how usable the rear seats are. Looking at the standard MINI’s rear seats (not the Clubman’s), or at the BMW 1-series rear seats for that matter, I think “Why bother?” They look too small to carry an average-height adult for even a small distance. Not that I have to have a limo, but if I’m going to sacrifice my “toy” (a roadster) in the interest of carrying more than one passenger, I want those passengers not to be limited to children and small dogs.

    So, how’s the Fiat in that department? (As a point of reference, when in Europe several years ago, I rented a Fiat Punto . . . which did just fine at carrying me, my wife and two of my adult children, the shortest of the group being 5’9″.)

  • avatar

    Looks to me it’s blind out the back with the top down … true?

  • avatar

    I’ve already priced one out on the website, seems a bone stock one is ok with me. I can’t wait!

  • avatar

    This is a convertible in exactly the same sense that the 1951-1953 Nash Rambler was a convertible – the same doors and top side structure as the sedan, with just the center part of the top actually movable.

    I don’t think that will hurt it in the present US market, as more and more often I see people driving with the top down and all the windows up. That’s something I don’t understand, but I’m kind of old-fashioned, I guess. When my convertible top went down in June, so did the windows, and stayed down until September.

  • avatar

    100% Agreed with the best and brightest on this one…

    If the 500C is a convertible, then a girl in a bathing suit is naked.

    Perhaps a more fair comparison would be between the 500C and the Mini with the huge sunroof. Apples to Apples in my book. Except the sunroof has benefits when closed, and rear visibility when open.

    • 0 avatar

      Or… Does anyone consider the Jeep Liberty with the sliding fabric roof option a convertible? I’d be willing to bet it opens up a much larger hold in the roof than the 500C – not to mention you can see out the back even when it’s open.

      Don’t get me wrong – I love sunroofs and fabric folding jobs – but I live convertibles more and am in the market for one… The Mini is on the list. As is the Mustang, and a C70. (All very different, I know…) The 500C simply isn’t a convertible. The proof is in the pudding: If you have to try really hard to convince people that a car is a convertible, it probably isn’t. A top-down profile shot makes this painfully clear.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a Mini with the sunroof, and I don’t think they compare. Only the front half of the roof actually opens, it slides over the rear half. I believe the Fiat would give a much more open-air feeling. It may not be a true convertible, but it’s as close as you can get for under 20 grand, and that’s something.

  • avatar

    Wow…I’m just amazed at the level of discussion revolving around if the 500c is a convertible, or not…from Webster’s (1913):

    =>convertible= capable of being converted; susceptable of change; transmutable; transformable

    And from merriam-webster (updated): having a top that may be lowered or removed.

    Since it “converts” it is by definition, a convertible…maybe not in the automotive purist’s sense of the word…

  • avatar

    I went by then new Fiat dealership in my area last weekend and they were delighted to let me test-drive a couple. I drove a 500 Sport with the five speed and a 500 Pop with the five speed for comparison. The review is spot on in that it’s very fun to drive. The test drives were at low speeds through residential areas but the car felt substantial and had enough power. I even managed to chirp a tire on a hard 1-2 upshift, which rather surprised the salesperson. In this environment I could tell no difference between the sport suspension and the standard suspension, and the Sport button didn’t seem to make much of a difference either.

    The interior was very pleasant but some of the buttons were very flimsy, especially the Sport/Hazard/Defrost trio. Pushing one made the others move as much as the one I pushed. The Pop I drove had the non-automatic climate control system and while I normally prefer the simple three dial setup, the dials were so flimsy and cheap feeling that I would probably spring for the automatic system who’s buttons felt much nicer by comparison.

    I sat in the back seat as well and found adequate room except for my head. I’m only 5’8″ and I couldn’t hold my head upright.

    Despite these criticisms theI did like the cars very much. Fun to drive, stylish, economical, and given well built especially considering the low price. I would recommend one to anyone who wants a small car. Personally, I might hold out for the Abarth if the price premium isn’t extreme but the salesperson mentioned there is already a waiting list for them and production will be limited.

  • avatar

    This is a cool looking car but…

    The Gauge thing is too complicated and busy, there is a reason most cars have 4/5/6 gauges.

    This car is a little to small and light for the US Market. In places like Wyoming, Montana, etc winds can do 50+ mph and little cars get blown off the road.

  • avatar

    Don´t waste my time, by arguing if it´s a convertible or not.
    This car is good for what it is, a city car.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Okay, but what we want do know is , does, “Fix IT Again Tony, still apply?

  • avatar

    I’ll be buying an Abarth Esse Esse when it hits our shores… Fine Italian Automotive Transportation… but I’m biased.

  • avatar

    A funny thing happened on the way to the forum…..
    I consider myself a car guy. I love automobiles. Cars, not SUV. The automobile. I’ve owned 31 vehicles in 39 years of driving. My first a 36hp 1959 VW that sat curbside on my walk to the bus to HS every morning. Bought it for $75.00. Needed battery and carb. at 16 years old my friend and i pushed it the 2 blocks home. Over the years I found i prefrefered RWD in everything from my 68 Road runner to BMW,Mercedes, Jaguar. My last pride was a 2010 Chrysler 300 3.5 touring signature that i banged out the sound system and recalibrated with a diablo pretator box. This car rocked, subtle chrome add ons, nothing to over the top and this beast made no excuses.i smiled every morning i walked to it and started it for the 28 months i owned it. 300 in Black and always gleaming. Stunning. Whats more I live in the city of Philadelphia, parking sucks but I wedged this in everyday and learned this car to be able to throw it around like a rag doll. It was strong and mighty and proud.

    So this is my baby and here goes…my lovely wife couldnt name a car for cash on the spot. I always park conciously to avoid careless dent so even leaving the mall and walking and chatting my wife would consistently walk to the first Black car and tug on the door handle with that look of ” could I be quicker on the remote”? And it was NEVER the right car, black yes, ours no….my point here is, it meant nothing…..sigh….

    Enter FIAT….
    My wife being the fashonista, people magazine reading, current events, fancies city living wife, notices the FIAT,
    next thing I know she is spouting off models, POP, SPORT, LOUNGE and what tire size comes with each and what option and colors and features oh my! There is smoke coming out of her ipad as she can spout of more facts than the Fiatusa website. Well, we know what happens next….I dont have my 300 anymore.
    Let me add that I get an import for a company car. Japan subcompact. I would leave that for her in the city while I drove the Chrysler.
    Once she noticed the Fiat, it was game on for her about a car? Huh?? ….and for me game over.

    We drove a few and she picked the POP 500C , deep Opal white/ red top/ red n white interior.
    Heres the deal.
    Our dealer experience was well, actually pretty cool! I was looking for trouble but it never came.
    On the car, hey call it what you want, the top freaking opens all the way, convertible or not. Fiat calls it a Cabrio, she calls it AWESOME.
    She like the ease of entry n exit. Its like sitting in a chair, rather than on the floor. She loves that she did not have to fold herself and duck.
    She loves the style and everyday someone asks something, she likes spouting off facts and she is scaring me.
    She has accessorized the car, chrome mirrors, chrome center hood strip, chrome rockers, mouldings , coffee cups, its basically out of control. But whats cool to me is I go from a woman who can’t find our car in a parking lot, either of them , hers OR mine, like really? To a fan who now has a hobby! ( don’t google FIAT ACCESSORIES..)
    She just dove in , loves this liitle beast and they have officially bonded.
    For me, I enjoy the enthusiasm as I said I love cars.
    My takes:
    Fun as hell to drive, underpowered yes, but adequate, tight little bugger, not a rattle, feels solid, very quiet, quuick steering. Brakes are well matched, corners great and overall, hey to be honest, I dig it. Price was right, we did buy extended warranty, just cause.
    I know its not for everyone but city folk, for sure, i laugh outloud every time i park it!
    One cool side effect is my girl feels she needs to look cute to go out and run errands, so I benefit from a little more lipstick and a tighter skirt or shorts here n there, i call it coolateral bonus!
    Must say its been a fun experience , she didnt buy a car, she bought a lifestyle / accessory. In an odd comparison a few freinds of mine have Harleys and they are absorbed in lifestlye and accessories for sure, after all HD does stand for “Hundred Dollars” everytime you walk in the door!
    Well this is the same, done “girl style”….maybe? LOL

    I dig toolin around in her car…and she does now notice other cars now like Yaris and Fit and she calls them ” wish they had a Fiat ” drivers. She especially notices MINI and that never happened before, its the hissing sound she makes when she sees one that I cant get used to.

    And at the end of the day, its all good man, if she’s happy, well, you know the deal.

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