£14,000 - £21,200 Price range
60 - 83 MPG
The 500C is a brilliant little car to enjoy open top driving in.
The reviews are very positive, they say it has a lot of character, looks great and has an excellent interior, with a well-designed retracting fabric roof.
Fiat caused quite a stir when they rebooted the Fiat 500, a sixties classic and company icon. It was a great success, as it managed to capture the sophisticated Italian charm and chic factor of the original at the same time as suitably updating it for the 21st century.
The convertible version keeps all the charm but provides the added option of getting your hair messy.
Cheapest to buy: 1.2-litre Pop petrol
Cheapest to run: 1.3-litre Pop Star diesel
Fastest model: 0.9-litre 105hp Lounge petrol
Most popular: 1.2-litre Lounge petrol
The 500C’s interior is identical to the one put in the standard 500, and it gets great reviews from critics thanks to its retro-yet-modern design.
Combining quality materials with irresistible Italian taste, the cockpit is a lovely place to be.
There is plenty of space for people up front but where the Fiat falls down slightly is its lack of room in the back – two adults of average height can fit but a long journey wouldn’t be very comfortable.
Reviewers have noted a downside of the 500C’s design of the folding fabric roof, which is that rear visibility is poor when it is fully retracted.
In recent years small family hatchbacks have been getting more and more fun to drive and the 500C brings enough to the table to challenge rivals.
On the road, there are few better ways to have more fun for the money, with a great little chassis and Fiat’s Dualdrive system, which decreases the amount of resistance through the steering to make moving the car about even easier in small spaces.
The 500C is a whiz around town, and is guaranteed to leave you beaming from ear to ear, at least until you get to the open road, where you may notice the body-roll and slightly unresponsive steering more.
Also, the ride is not quite up to the standard it should be, sometimes feeling too bouncy and out of control.
Despite the above, critics have noted is that the handling is an improvement over the normal Fiat 500, even if it isn’t quite up to the same standard as a Mini Roadster.
There are a range of small engines to choose from, all of which are cheap to run due to being frugal and low on emissions.
The entry level 1.2-litre has just 69hp, but for zipping around town it’s more than adequate. Likewise the 0.9-litre turbo-charged unit has 84hp, is perfect around town and can cope with slightly larger roads better.
There’s a more potent version of this engine available with 105hp which feels much more sprightly around town. Like all Fiat’s twinair two-cylinders, it has a thrum under hard acceleration that either makes the car feel exciting or unrefined depending on your point of view.
However, if you ever decide to venture well outside the city walls then you will want to opt for the slightly more powerful 1.4-litre petrol engine, or the incredibly frugal 1.3-litre Multijet diesel, which is sprightly but quite noisy, and perhaps misses the point of fun open-top motoring.
The two 1.4-litre turbo-charged options make much more sense for those seeking retro looks with modern performance; the Abarth and Abarth esseesse offer around 140hp and 160hp respectively, with the Abarth esseesse hitting 62mph in well under eight seconds from standstill.
Although the 500C already has clear links to its sixties forbear, these links were enhanced when the 0.9 TwinAir was released. The original had a tiny 2-cylinder engine and the TwinAir is very much the 21st-Century recreation of it. Eking out 85bhp from the 875cc available, the TwinAir 500C was the lowest CO2 emitting car when it was first released.
Only 95g/km CO2 is let loose which means that this 500C is exempt from both tax and the London Congestion charge which is good, as this engine should only really be used around town. But critics do say that if you really need to venture forth into the countryside, the TwinAir will have more power up hills than you would think.
Fiat claims that you should be able to hit 68.9mpg but realistically, you’ll be lucky to reach that in the real world. Still, that in no way means that this isn’t a decent little runaround; you will still have just as much fun in this car as you would in any other 500C, except perhaps the Abarth.
The entry-level 1.2 petrol gets some very good reviews across the range from critics. The engine comes with 68bhp on tap which admittedly does not sound like a lot, however the 500 series is the definition of being able to have lots of fun in a car without spending an astronomical sum of money.
Sure, you may not always feel the power when you need it on a motorway for instance but around town, there are few better ways to get around. 0-60 occurs in 12.9secs and the top speed is 99mph. Average miles per gallon is 58.9 and a relatively small 119g/km of CO2 is released meaning this engine will not bankrupt you in tax or at the pumps.
All in all though, this is the base engine for a reason; if you don’t need pace and just want a car to rumble happily in the sunshine with then the 1.2 could be for you but if you like getting to your destination quickly, splash out on one of the bigger engines.
The 1.3 Multijet is the diesel option among the range. It's nippy, with 96bhp on tap this 500 will reach 112mph passing through 0-60 in 10.7secs on its way there. Put your foot down and the 1.3 will respond with an urge (and a noise) that would make any driving enthusiast proud.
What you would really buy a diesel 500C for though is its economical value and it in no way disappoints. Happily, the 1.3 can return 72.4mpg meaning frequent trips to the local petrol station will be a thing of the past. Car tax will also be vey low too as only 109g/km is released, so will only cost £20 a year.
On a slightly more down note, a lot of critics do bring into question the £1400 price hike from the smaller 1.2 Pop, asking whether the premium is worth it. Some say yes, some say no, therefore the choice may well come down to whether you prefer driving a diesel or a petrol. Regardless, if you opt for this diesel you will not be disappointed.
The 1.4 gets positive reviews. With power up a cheeky four horsepower over the 1.3 diesel variant at 100bhp (yes it may not sound a lot but in a small car its even the smallest difference that can make the car) you have more to play around with. 0-60 will take 10.5secs and top speed is 113mph.
This engine is described by critics as ‘willing and keen’ whilst making a good noise as well. This makes this the 500C of choice for the regular motorway enthusiast. However, quite often you have to make the engine work to get the best out of it. This is a trait that is shared across the 500 range though so don’t think you can avoid it by opting for a different power plant. Economy is fairly average for the class, 48.7mpg and it releases 135g/km of CO2. This is nowhere near the figures that the diesel can produce though; in fact, one critic claims that the diesel is a better drive as well.
In essence then, the 1.4 is a decent engine, but not as good as others in the 500C range; go for the 1.3 diesel or the 1.2petrol.
hen Han Solo says “This is where the fun begins” obviously he must have been talking about the Fiat 500C Abarth. The Abarth range, like the 500, is a throwback to the older, ‘hot’ Fiats and, like the 500, it has been brought back in recent years. So far, the tuning company has set to work perfecting quicker versions of both the 500 range and the Punto with excellent results that have attracted widespread acclaim from automotive critics.
The 500C Abarth comes in three trim levels, each offering different amounts of power; the Abarth, Abarth Competizione and the Abarth Essesse. The Essesse is the most expensive as it has the most power, 157bhp over the standard Abarth’s 133. Some critics say that the premium you pay for the Essesse isn’t worth it over the perfectly capable Competizione and normal Abarth.
Indeed some say that you should simply ignore the higher spec trims and opt for the cheapest Abarth. It comes with a 1.4litre turbocharged engine that delivers plenty of punch when you need it. 0-60 is dealt with in 7.9secs and the top speed is a tidy 128mph. Economy and emissions are to be as expected from a fiery Italian hot hatch; 43.5mpg and 155g/km CO2. But you don’t buy these kind of cars when looking to look after your money, you buy them for fun, and the 500C Abarth delivers that in spades.
Those that wonder if the changes to the roof arrangement may affect the structure of the 500C need not worry too much as it has retained four fixed roof pillars.
The 500C has not yet been tested by Euro NCAP, but the normal 500 was the first of its size to score 5 stars, which is very impressive.
The car has seven airbags as standard, ABS with an electronic brakeforce distribution system, and all models except the base version have electronic stability control.
Child seats can also be safely secured in the back with two sets of Isofix anchor points.
The 500C is fairly expensive considering what you actually get; for a medium spec model paired to one of the better engines you are looking at paying over £14,000.
However, when you factor in the very low running costs, it begins to look a little better. All engines provide excellent economy figures and release minimal amounts of CO2, keeping tax costs low and petrol pump visits infrequent.
Standard equipment should be enough for most fun-seekers, and then you must consider the strong residuals.
You can expect a 500C to hold its value well over the first few years of ownership and to get a nice chunk of what you paid at the dealers back when it is time for an upgrade.
Fiat 500C Riva special edition
A collaboration between Fiat and Italian speedboat builder Riva sees the release of the new 500C Riva. This model comes as standard with exclusive Sera Blue paintwork, aquamarine pinstripes, 16-inch alloy wheels, a blue fabric roof and multiple mahogany trim pieces in the cabin. A seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and LED daytime running lights are also fitted as standard.
The Fiat 500C is clearly an attractive proposition for those wanting 1950s retro looks, open-top driving fun but the creature comforts of modern day family hatchbacks.
Critics writing about the 500C seem to feel that it’s all about looking good darting around a city centre, rather than powering through open countryside, and it does the former very well indeed.
Those wanting to pay a little less for chic and charm may wish to consider the normal Fiat 500, and those needing practicality can seek out the Fiat 500L, but for outright fun-factor, the Fiat 500C is tough to beat.