Little 500C big on character

Auto Bakkie Race Legend Tests are taken from our extensive road test archive.
This Fiat 500C test was first published in Cars in Action magazine April 2011. 

Regular readers will know our love affair with the Fiat 500. Being Italian, I suppose, has something to do with it, but we fell head over heels in love with this special little car. Seems we were not alone – almost everyone loved this little yellow machine that lived with that classic 500 roof most often folded fully down while we had it. It did not rain, but had it come, the soft-top clacks quickly into position to make you believe you’re in a tin top anyway. So neat.

Around the village with the roof down was a treat, even the school run was a pleasure, but travel over 80 and it all starts becoming a bit noisy and windy even with the little deflector up. All you need do is slow down to 60, touch the button and slide the roof back up. And just as easily down when you need it open. 

The soft top is actually more of a mega sunroof than a proper convertible, never mind those roof rails double up as a safety plus too. It slides up in three stages – first the rear window pops closed, before another touch closes it most of the way to leave a sunroof gap above, while a third touch closes it all the way. To open it’s one touch to half; another to go all the way.

500C is quick enough and on the freeway — even at elevated speeds, it buzzes happily along, making you feel as though you’re driving a big car. Yet it returned just 7.6 litres per hundred, even after quite a brisk week at the wheel. It should feel like a big car, it’s equipped like one in spite of its apparent size…

Concerns? Some say 500C is expensive. But show me another styling convertible within 50 grand of this thing. Others contend it is small and uncomfortable. I’m a large fellow and I have no trouble and we travelled four-up as a family in complete comfort. Others said it was Mickey Mouse. Shut up!

They're all wrong — the Fiat 500C is a brilliant little car — it's a fashion leader par excellence despite its quite sensible base. Drive around any European city and you will notice Fiat 500s everywhere — it’s a hit wherever you go, from Rome to London; Milan to New York, Jo’burg and Cape Town and for damn good reason too. — Michele Lupini

LEGEND TEST:  2011 Fiat 500C 1.4 
Engine: 74kW 130Nm 1398cc petrol I4
Drive:    6-speed manual FWD
TESTED (April 2017):
0-60km/h          4.61 sec
0-100km/h:          11.27 sec 
0-160km/h          29.51 sec
400m:                 17.3 sec @ 126km/h
80-120km/h:           11.49 sec
120-160 sec            16.55 sec
Vmax:          209km/h
Fuel:          7.6/100km
CO2:          140 g/km
NEW PRICE (2011): R200K 
RATED:          83%