July 31, 2012
|Test Drive: 2012 Fiat 500 Lounge
Manufacturer’s web site
Review and photos by Mike Schlee
2012 Fiat 500
We recently took a quick spin in the hot Fiat 500 Abarth and have extensively covered the regular Fiat 500, but what about that other Fiat — the 500c? For whatever reason, the little pseudo-convertible hasn’t received much attention from Autos.ca or its readers. So while I was in Ann Arbor at the Chrysler Chelsea Proving Grounds for a Chrysler Drive Event, I made a point to spend a good chunk of time in the perky little Italian subcompact to find out if: a) it was it still the fun, economical drive I remembered; and b) was it any good in convertible form?
2012 Fiat 500c Pop. Click image to enlarge
Earlier I alluded to the 500c as a pseudo-convertible; some do not consider it a true droptop, since the D-pillars and roof rails always stay intact. The roof opening is more akin to a giant cloth sardine can that peels back all the way to the bottom of the cargo compartment hatch. If the windows are left open, the effect of the retractable roof is more like a giant sunroof than a true convertible. Lower the front windows and open-air motoring bombards you. In other words, top-down motoring leads to some serious wind buffeting in this tiny Fiat. Another issue with the top fully retracted is that you cannot see anything out the back as the bunched-up cloth roof takes over the real estate formerly occupied by the back window. Thankfully, the top can be put down only three quarters of the way (more like a giant sunroof in this capacity) to counter this and thus retains the rear window visibility.
Regardless if the top is opened or closed, the 500c has lots of headroom for front and rear passengers alike. Yes, two rear passengers can be taken in the 500c, but they may be limited to only children or smaller adults; space is at a bit of a premium back there. Up front the seats are comfortable and my initial view was dominated by a small, very white steering wheel that is oh-so Italian. While on the topic of colour, the 500c I was testing featured an interior swathed in browns, oranges, blacks, and whites. I am all for a departure from the usual black and gray interiors, but this was a bit much for my tastes. What I did like on the inside of the 500c was the ‘8-ball’ style gear shift knob and, despite there being no infotainment screen, there was still satellite radio. Since the 500 is marketed towards the younger and hipper members of society, the 500c comes equipped with a kicking stereo that can be heard by everyone around when the top is down.