You either love it or you hate it, the 500C is Fiat's answer to returning an icon, that no-one knew needed bringing back. It's a trend that is sure to sell, so long as the retro models of our past are done justice. And if they weren't great before, it's the perfect opportunity for manufacturers to improve a product ten fold.
The 500 brings Fiat's brand into the 21st century and is definitely a talking point when it comes to modern day motoring. But I can't help but feel it's another small convertible that has joined MINI and smart to be tagged as a 'gay' car or a 'womens' car (I hear the term roller-skate used a lot). So I booked the 500C in the hope to dispel this stereotype and prove that not all small convertibles are that bad.
Reminiscent of the original Fiat, the 500C looks true to it's original form, but with some fairly massive improvements in both design and dimensions for sure. The rounded lights characterize the car's essence of fun and the surrounding lines and detailing almost give an impression of a bumper car. Finish it all off at the rear with some oblong lights and you have yourself a quirky and fun car. The convertible gets a coloured hood that runs on tracks inside the body's roofline and really speaks to the heritage of re-creating this iconic car. If it had a normal conversion style, rather than it's 'sardine' style of opening, it would look odd.
Although I prefer the traditional style of convertible, keeping a permanent roofline definitely helps make the car feel like a hard top, you know for those days when you aren't feeling as sunny inside. The only downside to this, at full conversion the rear view mirror is rendered useless as the folded hood sits directly in its line of view. The 500C isn't the only car to suffer with this, as drivers of both the MINI and the Beetle will testify, as both cars suffer from exactly the same problem. However, what the 500C has got over the MINI and the Beetle convertible is visibility, roof up or down the rear pillars aren't too big to stop you seeing the car your about to reverse into, and with such a tight turning circle, you'll be facing them sooner than you would hit them anyway.
So let's talk interiors…. Running with more of the same retro feel to the exterior, the 500C has lots of shiny plastics and chunky buttons. The single circular dial matches in beautifully with the overly rounded steering wheel, and the giant '8 ball' style gear stick feels equally as chunky and finishes the retro, bubbly styling jus t nicely. A cream and white colour combination doesn't do it for me, and I should imagine switching the white highlights with a bold red or yellow would make the inside more striking. But that's the idea of the Fiat 500 brand, a totally customizable, personalized and unique car, to suit only its owner. This of course comes at a cost; particular eccentric personalities will find it pricey indeed. The other downside to this is when you come to sell your 'totally you' florescent pink and green striped 500C, not everybody may be so 'individual'. Remember to air on the side of caution when to comes down to personalization, not everyone wants a full colour Zac Efron portrait plastered across the bonnet and boot of their new car.
The 1.2 litre petrol is by no means going to win any races, and to begin with I wasn't overly impressed with its round town performance either. Where this car really excels though is the size and maneuverability, a key selling point for any city car, and with Fiat's 'city' steering as standard nipping in and out of traffic has never been easier. Although the cars acting ability makes up for a lack of engine power about town, the 1.2 is surprisingly nice at speed. Like I said acceleration isn't fantastic, but when you hit a comfortable cruising speed, it's a comfortable ride and handles beautifully through bends and tight corners.
I tested the entry level 'Pop' trim. Fairly basic, even for an entry level, you'll be paying for any creature comforts you may be used to. So, I'd definitely say it's worth spending the extra couple of grand for a higher specification, and what's an extra £2000 when you're already spending £12,465. Yes, unfortunately it's also very pricey for an entry level too, some might think. But it seems that this is due to that one little letter, that little 'C' added to the model name. But the 5 00C isn't about cost, it's better to think of it however as a lifestyle choice. When you drive a 500C, you join tha t exclusive 500C owners club of unspoken coolness, rivaling the 'MINI Mo b' and the 'Beetle Bunch'.
Overall, I have to say over the week, I found myself becoming extremely fond of the 500C. I haven't even covered off everything within my word count, which is such a shame! I enjoyed the feeling of an engaging drive and one that made it fun, even on longer trips. The little 1.2L 'Pop' 500C has definitely grabbed my attention, and I won't be surprised if I find myself wanting to book the other variations of the 500 brand. Yep it's true, I've joined the '500 Flock', and I'm proud of it too!